Dear winter reader,
This is a gift for you, dear reader, that I have been saving for some time.
Those of you who have read The Snow Child might recall a scene in which Mabel
spends the morning picking bouquets of wildflowers. It’s June, and the Alaska forest is adorned in the fragile petals of arctic rose, starflowers and bluebells.
Last June, I went for a walk with my camera through the sunshine and green, and I photographed the flowers I describe in the book. Then I put them away for another day.
Looking outside at the gray sky and snow drifts, listening to the wind blow over the top of our house, I’ve decided it’s time to give them to you. So here they are.
When I met with my book club this past weekend, I was presented with one of the most precious gifts I have ever been given — a Snow Child snow globe.
My friend Rindi used the U.S. cover for inspiration, and she sculpted figurines of the girl and fox and birch trees out of clay. She used glitter for the snow, and a mixture of water, glycerine, and rubbing alcohol.
What makes it particularly enchanting is that the snow globe is made out of a glass Mason jar. Those of you who have read the story might recall that Esther often arrives with an armload of goodies — jams and spicy vegetables — all in Mason jars.
When you tip the jar and stir up the snow, it is like peering into a miniature world. It’s truly magical.
Dear festive reader,
Wow! What an incredible evening.
With the help of Fireside Books and the wonderful people at the historic Colony Inn here in Palmer, Alaska, we celebrated the publication of The Snow Child on Wednesday. It was an event we had been planning for weeks. I grew up here, so I expected to see a few close family friends and some of my favorite customers from the bookstore. I thought I’d visit with people, sign a few books, have a glass or two of wine.
My expectations were blown out of the water. Around 200 people showed up, including old friends, neighbors, former teachers, artists and writers, people who had read my articles in the Frontiersman newspaper over the years,and people I had never met before.
A close family friend brought a beautiful handcrafted Snow Child doll she had made for me. Another neighbor and good friend gave me several amazing art images of Snegurochka.
And in the midst of signing books and hugging dear friends, I was surprised to find the mayor of the City of
Palmer standing beside me with a microphone. She proceeded to read a proclamation, declaring it Eowyn Ivey Day. To be honest, I was incredibly embarrassed, and would have insisted the honor was too much. But then she presented me with a box tied with a ribbon. Inside I found a golden key to the city — any embarrassment fell away. I love the key! Later, when the crowd had died down and we were putting away the empty book boxes (we sold out), we all joked that perhaps we now had complete access to the library, the government offices, and the bars in town.
I don’t know what was most amazing about that night — the fact that The Snow Child broke the Fireside Books sales record, previously held by Harry Potter. The mayor presenting me with a key to the city. The lovely gifts from friends.
In the end, though, I think what will always stay with me is the overwhelming love and support of my hometown.
Dear kind readers,
Today is the day The Snow Child is officially released here in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. It’s not yet 11 a.m., and I’m already overwhelmed by the kindness and support for the book.
Tonight, I will gather with friends, relatives, neighbors, and readers at a book release party here in Palmer, Alaska, in conjunction with Fireside Books. The event will be at the Colony Inn, one of the most historic buildings in the area. A fireplace, good food, glasses of wine, people I have known my entire life, and a snowy outdoor scene — it seems like the perfect way to celebrate The Snow Child.
Wherever you are today, I hope you also have a day full of kindness and celebration.
Dear returning reader,
I have so much to tell you, I hardly know how to start this letter.
I want to tell you how wonderful the staff and readers are at Tattered Cover in downtown Denver, where I participated in my first official author reading and book signing. I want to tell you how heart-warming it is to be surrounded by talented authors, kind book lovers, a beautiful bookstore. I even had my uncle at my side as I signed copies of The Snow Child! It is a day I will never forget.
But I also want to tell you how much I’ve appreciated your emails, messages and tweets telling me where you have spotted The Snow Child. Here are just a few places where there have been “Snow Child sightings.”
- Buffalo, New York
- The Costco Connection magazine that goes out to Costco members and featured an interview with me and a review of The Snow Child this month.
- New Mexico
- Barnes & Noble in Baltimore, Maryland
- Kodiak, Alaska
- Olympia, Washington
- Laramie, Wyoming
- Powell’s Bookstore in Oregon
- Pittsburg, Kansas
- South Hadley, Massachusetts at the Odyssey Bookshop
- Lansing, Michigan
- Reno, Nevada
- Oprah Magazine, February issue, Page 111 (I had to see it to believe it.)
- Northwest Book Lovers blog
- Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City
- Rome, Italy
- Flagstaff, Arizona Barnes & Noble
- Boyd Farm in Palmer, Alaska
It’s simply amazing!
But in the end, I want to tell you about my trip back home to Alaska last night. Flying out of Denver and across the United States, I suddenly felt incredibly homesick. I missed my family, my house, my dog, my normal life. But it was something more, something I couldn’t quite identify. I stared out the window, over the endless checkerboard of cities and farmland.
It wasn’t until the airplane crested the Chugach Mountains here in Alaska that I was able to understand a little more of my homesickness.
As I watched out the window, it seemed as if the snowy peaks would scrape the bottom of the airplane, and once we cleared them, Anchorage appeared as a small clump of lights surrounded by swaths of dark wilderness. The plane began to descend and circle out over Cook Inlet, where massive sheets of ice floated on the salt water. The captain reported that it was 2 below zero with a slight wind.
I can’t count how many times I have watched that view come into focus. But it didn’t stop me from taking in a quiet gasp.
This place is exhilarating. And I had missed it.
Dear news-seeking reader,
Just a few quick things I want to share with you today:
- The Snow Child is being shipped out earlier than expected here in the United States. It should arrive at bookstores and other retailers in the next week or so. Those who have ordered online through sites like Amazon have gotten messages saying their copies on their way. I’d love to hear from anyone who spots it in their local bookstore or gets a copy in the mail!
- I’m off to the Winter Institute in New Orleans on Wednesday. Around 500 booksellers from around the country will convene to talk about the industry and learn about new books. I’m among more than 50 authors who are attending, along with Julianna Baggott, Richard Ford, Nathan Englander, John Green and many others.
- The Snow Child received this lovely review in the Book Page today.
- A librarian who attended high school with me here in Palmer, Alaska, recently wrote this sweet blog post about waiting for The Snow Child to arrive at her house.
- And last, but certainly not least, the sun has returned! Just a few days ago, the sun crept through the mountains and lit up our snowy yard for the first time in nearly a month. Beautiful, glorious sunshine!
Dear acclimated reader,
It’s official. We have a lot of snow! In fact, for the first time during the five years we have lived at this house, we had to rent a bulldozer to push back the snow berms. We were running out of room to plow.
Sam and I considered letting the road fill with snow — we could walk up the driveway or even snowmachine when we have groceries. The only problem is that we wouldn’t have a way to haul water. An extra bit of walking? Great! No running water, no hot showers or turning on the faucet, for four months? Hmmm, maybe not.
It was pretty amazing, watching our friend Adam Boyd run the dozer while Sam used our plow truck to push snow in front of him. Our property is now dotted with huge hills of snow.
We are not alone. The Anchorage Daily News reports that the city’s 1995 record of 77 inches of snow was broken on Jan. 9 with more than 81 inches. And the small fishing village of Cordova has made national headlines with its 18 feet of snow on the ground, and the deployment of National Guard troops to help them dig out roads and houses. Around the state, major highways have been closed by avalanches and car accidents.
And now this, from the National Weather Service for our area:
Winter weather advisory for snow remains in effect from 9 pm this evening to 9 pm akst thursday…
Tonight… Snow. Snow accumulation 2 to 5 inches. Lows 10 to 15 above.
Thursday… Snow. Snow accumulation 5 to 10 inches…highest amounts near the mountains. Highs 15 to 20. Northwest wind 10 to 15 mph.
Thursday Night… Snow likely in the evening…then isolated snow showers after midnight. Snow accumulation up to 1 inch. Storm total snow accumulation 8 to 16 inches. Lows zero to 5 below. North wind 15 mph.
Our neighbors are beginning to joke that we are a jinx with all this “snow child” talk.
Dear window-shopping reader,
For more than 8 years, I have worked as a bookseller at Fireside Books. And never once during that time did I dream I would someday see this in the shop’s front window:
It’s a beautiful Snow Child window display painted by the extremely talented Ruth Hulbert, who also works at Fireside Books. She completed it on Saturday while we were both on shift at the store. I’m not sure which is more amazing to me — the fox’s realistic gaze, or the ornate lettering that Ruth painted free-hand and backwards.
I confess that sometimes I’m a little uncomfortable selling my own book to customers. At the same time, it’s a lot fun to be at the shop right now. Fireside Books is giving away tote bags with each prepaid order in the store for The Snow Child. Dozens of friends, neighbors, favorite customers, former teachers, and community members — people I have known my entire life — have come in to order their copies. I am so touched by everyone’s support.
As the Feb. 1 publication date nears, we are also planning the book release party, which will be at the nearby Colony Inn that evening. Originally a teachers dormitory for the Matanuska Colony in the 1930s, the inn is one of the more historic buildings in the area.
As a teenager living in Palmer, I couldn’t wait to move out of my small hometown. Now, I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be during this exciting time in my life.
Dear winter reader,
We are in the midst of the darkest, coldest time of year here in Alaska. And this winter has been a bit extreme. We have so much snow at our house, Sam broke the plow off the front of the truck trying to clear our driveway. On Facebook, friends and neighbors are posting things like “20 below zero for third day in a row” and “wish I had remembered to plug in the truck.” There are also a lot of photos of cool blue mountains and frosty trees, with comments like “Beautiful, but so cold.”
This time of year can be dangerously cold. When Sam heads out by snowmachine on his trapline each week, he brings extra clothes and a fire-starting kit. He and his trapping partner travel more than 50 miles by snowmachine, crisscrossing river and streams and glaciers and enduring temperatures around 35 below zero Fahrenheit. They often break through overflow ice, which is formed when water runs on top of the surface of a frozen river and freezes again. It creates a false layer of ice. When you break through, you aren’t in danger of drowning, but you and your machine get sopping wet. With temperatures so brutally cold, water becomes a hazard all itself.
This is also the darkest time of year. At our house, we have entirely lost direct sunlight. The sun doesn’t rise high enough in the sky to clear the mountains. For about two weeks either side of winter solstice, the sun is just a bluish glow behind the peaks.
I love winter. I really do. I love sledding and skiing, ice skating and building snow forts. During the weeks leading to Christmas, I am positively joyful with the season.
But once Jan. 1 comes and goes, winter loses some of its luster. February is actually my least favorite time of year in Alaska.
This year, though, we are being rescued. I just got news that my UK publisher, Headline, wants to bring me to London for a week in February for the release of The Snow Child. We’ll also get to see a bit of Scotland during our visit.
The editor, publicist and other staff at Headline have been so wonderful to work with these past months, I am thrilled to get to meet them in person at last. And, I have to admit, I won’t mind bidding adieu to February in Alaska, even if it is just for a week.
I was thinking we could have a gift exchange — I could send you each some snow. We have more than enough to spare, more than three feet, and it’s still snowing.
In return, won’t you send me some sunshine? Sunrise is currently 10:15 am., sunset 3:45 p.m. And here at our house, we have lost direct sunlight because the sun does not rise far enough into the sky to clear the mountains. For at least another week, we will not see the sun at all. But winter solstice has come and gone, so bit by bit we will get our daylight back.
I hope you and your family have a very merry season.
May all our wishes come true,
P.S. I’ll write to you again after the New Year.