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 first readers,
Monday morning, after running some errands in town, I drove by Fireside Books. The shop was closed and the lights off, but something caught my eye — in the front window, dozens of copies of my novel The Snow Child.
I thought I might be imagining it, so I drove around the block and slowed down as I went by again. It was true! The books had arrived!
The official release date here in the United States is Feb. 1, but the publisher began shipping in the past week or two and so the books are arriving a few days ahead of schedule.
In the past week, I’ve gotten reports from people across the country who have spotted The Snow Child. My grandmother’s dear friend in Florida reported her copy had arrived. Good friends in Washington State tweeted they were beginning to read the book. And a bookseller friend in Chicago shared a photo of The Snow Child on display at the Barnes & Noble he manages.
Yesterday at Fireside Books, I signed copies for customers as they came in the door, and other copies that will soon be shipped off to Montana, New York, and Kodiak, Alaska.
The release date for the UK edition has been moved up to Feb. 1, so soon it will be appearing there as well.
So now I’d love to hear from you. Have you had a Snow Child sighting? Did you spy it in your neighborhood bookstore? Did a copy arrive in your mailbox?
I’m smitten. After this past week, New Orleans might have just become my favorite city.
Last week I left behind zero degrees and blowing snow to set down in a land of palm trees and jazz music, cafe’ au lait and beignets, gorgeous antique shops and over-the-top costumes.
I spent the first morning walking down Royal and Chartres streets. I discovered lovely Crescent City Books and bought a book of poetry for my mom. Around one corner, I came across a Bohemian young woman with dreadlocks and fishnet stockings, and playing classical cello. In a central square, a brass band ripped out the kind of music that makes you want to dance. It was sunny and warm, but a pleasant breeze blew off the Mississippi River. It was a Thursday morning, but I suspect it always feels like Friday night in New Orleans.
Thursday evening, I met hundreds of booksellers from around the country — Boston and Denver, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. Some of them I knew through Twitter and Facebook. Some of them had never heard of The Snow Child, so I told them a bit about it and myself. Others had read it and were excited to talk to me about it. A few got tears in their eyes as they described how much it meant to them. It was an incredibly moving experience for me as a writer.
So now I’m back home, and glad to be with my family and breathe the cold Alaska air. But if anyone has need for me to come to New Orleans next winter for a few days, just give a shout.
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!
Thank you! What more is there to say? With the help of the publisher Pantagruel and the support of book bloggers, book sellers, and readers across Norway, my debut novel Snøbarnet (The Snow Child) has landed at #1 on the Norwegian bestseller list.
1. Snøbarnet (Eowyn Ivey) – Pantagruel
2. Bibelen 2011 (flere) – Bibelselskapet
3. Reisen hjem (Lori Lansens) – Juritzen
4. Borderline (Liza Marklund) – Piratforlaget
5. Det dyrebare (Linn Ullmann) – Oktober
6. Tirsdagsdamene: reisen til Lourdes (Monica Peetz) – Bastion
7. Vinterstengt (Jørn Lier Horst) – Gyldendal
8. Krystallslottet (Jeannette Walls) – Pantagruel
9. Din godhet (Linda Olsson) – Vigmostad & Bjørke
10. Sirile gentlemen søkes (Karin Brunk Holmqvist) – Silke
I could barely sleep last night, I was so thrilled and overwhelmed. This is truly amazing news.
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.
Some people argue the web will be the death of fiction and literature, the demise of thought-provoking writing and in-depth analysis. But this past week has persuaded me otherwise.
While the digitized era certainly seems to favor short attention spans, the web also offers wonderful surprises.
- LONG READS — A website devoted to the best long articles and essays being published. David Cheezem at Fireside Books told me about LongReads.com, and it is now one of my favorite websites. They post articles from magazines like Esquire, the Washington Post, Vanity Fair, and lesser-known publications. You can receive notices by email, and you can nominate articles you think should be included. Already I’ve read some of the most interesting, and well-written, pieces I have ever come across.
- ANNOTATION NATION — My mom, Julie LeMay, is pursuing her MFA in poetry at Antioch University. Through her colleagues, she learned about the site Annotation Nation. The postings aren’t reviews — “Loved it. Five stars” or “Stupid and pointless.” These are thoughtful essays looking at how a piece of writing actually works, including fiction, nonfiction and poetry. It’s a fabulous resource for writers, but I also think serious readers will enjoy it.
- FIVE CHAPTERS — This website recently enabled me to get one of my short stories out into the world. FiveChapters.com serializes short fiction, publishing it daily over the course of a week. My story Remnants appeared on the site this week. It’s exciting to think they are creating more opportunities for fiction to thrive.
The biggest challenge of the web is learning about sites like these. That’s one reason I want to spread the word. And ask you — what treasures have you found online? Any websites that support arts and literature that you recommend?
P.S. If you click on the title heading for each website, it should take you there.
Back in April, I sent you my first letter.
On Jan. 1, WordPress, the site provider for this blog, calculated some interesting statistics about the year that followed. Since the numbers say something about you, and about me, I thought I’d share them.
Letters from Alaska was viewed about 11,000 times in 2011.
During that time, I sent out 92 new letters. There were 227 pictures included. That’s about 4 pictures per week.
The busiest day of the year was October 7th with 167 views. The most popular post that day was Good news from Norway.
Most of you are from the United States. The United Kingdom & Italy are not far behind. There are also readers from Brazil, the Netherlands, Norway, France, India, Spain, the Philippines, Tunisia, Australia, and many other countries.
These were my most popular letters in 2011.:
1 Good news from Norway 20 comments October 2011
2 Book giveaway 40 comments June 2011
3 Hateful things 22 comments August 2011
4 Floating through a powerful world 14 comments July 2011
5 Warning: May contain bear hot dogs 18 comments July 2011
A special thank you to Sue Mathis, the Baers, Nathan Dunbar and Sarah Davis — you have been the most regular contributors to the comments section. You make blogging fun!
And I want to thank all of you, regular subscribers and occasional visitors, for this past year. Without a reader, a letter is a rather useless thing.
Wishing all of you a happy New Year!
Dear radio reader,
Last week I mentioned I had a few exciting news items coming up, and one of them is official now – I was interviewed by BBC’s World Outlook, a program that focuses on unique personal stories from around the globe. More than 40 million people listen to the program in English, in addition to many other languages.
The morning of the interview began with a dark, snowy, white-knuckle drive into Anchorage. We had received nearly a foot of snow during the night, and at 6 a.m. the roads weren’t plowed for much of the way. I worried I would slide into the ditch and miss my chance to be interviewed by one of the most respected and longest-running radio programs in the world.
Fortunately, I arrived at the public radio studio just in time to hear Tim and Lucy’s lovely British voices through a headset. The BBC producer and interviewer were wonderful to work with, as was the technical guru David at KSKA.
The story began airing in other countries earlier today. I’ve already received friendly messages from India, Japan, and France, from writers and readers who said they were inspired to hear about how I wrote my novel.
In the next day or so, the story will be available to play via the Outlook website, at http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/outlook.
There was a downside. BBC Outlook posted on Facebook a photo of me with a moose I had shot. The photo drew comments from people who were offended, and several used vitriolic language to attack me personally.
This has been a dilemma for me from the beginning. On one hand, many people seem interested to learn more about our rural lives in Alaska, how we hunt for our own meat and have forsaken some of the creature comforts of cities to live the way we do. Without this lifestyle, I never could have written The Snow Child. At the same time, I wonder about putting my life and family on display, and opening it up to this kind of criticism, when ultimately I just hope people read and enjoy The Snow Child.
I am curious to ask you, dear reader – do you enjoy knowing about the private lives of your favorite writers and artists? How much do you share about your own life in social media?