To the Bright Edge of the World
Dear steadfast reader,
It’s official — my new novel To The Bright Edge of the World will be out August 2016! (I knew it was official when I saw it listed on the website of my favorite bookstore, Fireside Books in Palmer, AK. It can also be found on other book websites.)
To the Bright Edge of the World is being published by the same wonderful people who published The Snow Child — Little, Brown and Company in the US and Tinder Press in the UK.
For those of you who have been following its path, this is the novel formerly known as Shadows on the Wolverine. Through journals, letters and documents, it tells the story of an 1885 expedition into the heart of Alaska.
Here’s the publisher’s description:
“In the winter of 1885, Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester sets out with his men on an expedition into the newly acquired territory of Alaska. Their objective: to travel up the ferocious Wolverine River, mapping the interior and gathering information on the region’s potentially dangerous native tribes. With a young and newly pregnant wife at home, Forrester is anxious to complete the journey with all possible speed and return to her. But once the crew passes beyond the edge of the known world, there’s no telling what awaits them.
With gorgeous descriptions of the Alaskan wilds and a vivid cast of characters — including Forrester, his wife Sophie, a mysterious Eyak guide, and a Native American woman who joins the expedition — TO THE BRIGHT EDGE OF THE WORLD is an epic tale of one of America’s last frontiers, combining myth, history, romance, and adventure.”
I hope you enjoy it!
Hello old friend
Dear long lost reader,
I just looked out the window of my office (yes, I have upgraded from my bare-lightbulb, closet-sized “cloffice” to a room with a view), and saw our little skating rink. It made me think of you, dear reader. I don’t know if you recall years ago I wrote to you about trying to build a skating rink in our yard. We did not have a well at the time, and so we were hauling our water — one of several impediments. Well this year, at last, success! It’s not official NHL dimensions, but it’s big enough to do a few twirls and play miniature hockey with our youngest daughter. Here’s a photo …
I’m also sending you a photo of my new office. Thanks to my husband, Sam, for all his hard work. He literally built it, walls, wiring, sheet-rock, pine trim, and even helped me reconnect my computer when I moved in. On the corkboard above my computer you can catch a glimpse of where my head has been these past months — a fantastical, wild 1885 Alaska.
I wanted you to know that although I have been mostly absent from Twitter and Facebook, and remiss in my letter writing, you have never been far from my thoughts as I work on my new novel. I have a complete manuscript and am now shaping it and polishing it. It is a story told in journals, letters and documents about a military expedition into the heart of Alaska in 1885. Along the way, my Colonel and his men are encountering a mythological world they did not expect. I can’t wait to share it with you!
Postcard from Ninilchik & Homer
Dear fair-weather reader,
Over the weekend, we headed south to the Alaska seaside in a blustery rainstorm, and at the end of the road found sunshine and the warmest of welcomes from fellow Alaskans.
Immense gratitude to Argent Kvasnikoff, the Ninilchik Traditional Council, and Ninilchik Community library — they set the plans in motion by inviting me to come speak in their community. My family and I were so touched by their hospitality and kindness. We felt instantly as if we were among friends.
We also made our way to Homer, with much thanks to poet Erin Hollowell, the Homer Public Library and Homer Bookstore. Again we were welcomed with such warmth and graciousness. It was an honor to get to visit with so many fellow Alaskan writers at the event:
- Erin Hollowell has recently published a beautiful book of poetry, Pause, Traveler.
- Ann Dixon, who has a wonderful collection of Alaska children’s books. Our family favorite is Blueberry Shoe.
- Eva Saulitis, author most recently of the critically acclaimed Into Great Silence: A Memoir of Discovery and Loss Among Vanishing Orcas.
- Nancy Lord, former Alaska State Writer Laureate, a writer who does it all — fiction & essays, including Rock, Water, Wild: An Alaskan Life.
- Tom Kizzia, author of the bestselling Pilgrim’s Wilderness. I recently read this nonfiction book and found it incredibly compelling, heartbreaking, and haunting.
I have no doubt there were other writers there that day, published or soon-to-be, and I’m grateful for the supportive atmosphere that is helping Alaska literature to thrive.
Cheers from the coast,
Headed south to the seaside
Dear long-lost reader,
Where has the time gone? Someone recently pointed out that it has been more than two months since I last wrote.
Gardening, fishing, picking berries, visiting with friends and family, working on house projects — like most Alaskans, we find there isn’t enough time in the summer. Strange, when you consider the sun stays in the sky nearly 20 hours each day. We often find ourselves out in the yard, filleting salmon or watering the tomato plants in the greenhouse, at 10 at night. We have to force ourselves to come inside and slow down.
In the middle of this Alaskan summer mania, I am also hard at work on my new novel, Shadows on the Wolverine. It is a thrilling process, as I gather stories, ideas and images and let them roll around in my imagination.
And although I am doing fewer than last year, I am also squeezing in a few Snow Child events.
This weekend, I head south to the Alaska seaside communities of Ninilchik and Homer .
Saturday at noon I’ll be at the Homer Public Library to read from The Snow Child. Books will be available at the library, and I’ll be happy to sign copies after the reading.
Homer is on the shore of Kachemak Bay on the southwest side of the Kenai Peninsula, about 200 road miles southwest of Anchorage. It is known for its halibut fishing and its diverse, artistic community of about 5,000 people.
Then, at 3 p.m. on Saturday, I’ll be in Ninilchik for a question-and-answer session and book signing at the Ninilchik Community Library. The event is sponsored by the Ninilchik Traditional Council. A limited number of copies of the book will be available for purchase, with proceeds benefiting the Ninilchik Community Library.
Ninilchik is also located on the Kenai Peninsula, just north of Homer, and has about 1,000 residents. The village was originally a Dena’ina Athabaskan lodging area used for hunting and fishing. Russian colonists moved there from Kodiak Island in 1847 before the Alaska Purchase.
I’m so looking forward to this roadtrip to the sea. In the meantime, I’ll be soaking up every last little bit of summer in Alaska.
Wishing you long, happy days,
Waiting for Spring
Dear patient reader,
The first day of spring came and went and left behind … well, winter. First we had a cold snap, with the thermometer at our house dropping to 15 below zero F. Then the clouds rolled in and we got nearly a foot of new snow. As much as I love winter, I confess that I’m ready to bid it farewell.
But I’m still finding the sunny side. The days are growing longer and longer each day. We have a new floppy-eared, happy puppy bouncing around the house. And in our kitchen is a vase of tulips.
Ironically, just as I’m craving spring the most, I’m heading farther north. But I hear there might be some sunshine in Fairbanks this weekend, and I’m very much looking forward to several events. While I’m there, I’ll be doing a school visit. Then, on Friday afternoon, I’m at the University of Alaska Fairbanks for a craft talk. Also on Friday, at 7 p.m, I’ll be at the Wood Center Ballroom for a reading and book signing as a part of the Midnight Sun Visiting Writers Series.
On Saturday, I’m signing books at Gulliver’s Books from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
In the meantime, I’m spending my days working on the next novel, cuddling with a puppy, and pretending it’s spring.
Dear snowy reader,
Dozens of families gathered on the lawn of the Loussac Libary in Anchorage on Saturday for a snowman building contest. The event was in conjunction with this year’s Anchorage Reads, The Snow Child.
Here are some photos from Saturday’s fun, which included hot chocolate, craft projects, beautiful ice sculptures, and lots and lots of lovely snow people.
Anchorage Reads events continue tonight — I’ll be at the University of Alaska Anchorage Bookstore from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. for a reading, signing and interview with David Stevenson, creative writing director at UAA. Hope to see some of you there.
The Snow Child comes back to me
Dear indoor reader,
It’s miserable here in Alaska — rainy, drippy, icy. But inside my home, it is still snowy and Faina is still with me.
Thanks to talented artists, both friends and strangers, I have these beautiful images — two watercolor paintings and two embroideries — inspired by The Snow Child.
It is difficult to know how to thank someone who has blessed you with so much of her time and talent, who has given something of her own creative heart to you, but this is the best way I know how.
Thank you Donna, Annie, Maureen and Yuliya. I will treasure your art always.
Happy New Year!
Dear joyful reader,
I want to share a few pieces of good news.
First, I learned that The Snow Child won the PNBA 2013 Book Award. Each year the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association recognizes as many as six books written by authors in the region. Nearly as thrilling as the award itself is the company I join in this year’s award. The other winners: Sherman Alexie (Seattle, WA) for Blasphemy; Jonathan Evison (Bainbridge Island, WA) for The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving; Lucia Perillo (Olympia, WA) for On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths; Cheryl Strayed (Portland, OR) for Wild; and G. Willow Wilson (Seattle, WA) for Alif the Unseen.
Several of these books I’ve already read and thoroughly enjoyed, and I’m looking forward to the others.
But there are other, perhaps quieter but equally joyful events in my life. During a cross-country skiing and ice fishing adventure yesterday to a nearby lake, my 5-year-old caught a beautiful 16-inch trout. We cooked it for dinner, and I have never seen a prouder fishergirl.
And this quiet afternoon at home alone, everyone off to school and work, I sat at my computer working when the sunlight burst through a mountain valley and poured in our front windows. It has been nearly a month since the sun directly hit our house. I nearly made myself blind staring into that beautiful light. After a few short minutes, it disappeared again behind the mountain. But I know it will be back again tomorrow, and for just a little bit longer.
Wishing you sunshine, a fish on the end of your line, and a happy new year,
Dear holiday reader,
Whew! What an amazing couple of weeks.
December 1 I flew to London to attend the UK National Book Awards. Before the big night, I visited a half dozen bookstores near London. We traveled shop to shop via “snowmobile” (a snowflake-decorated car with Christmas tunes playing). Samantha and Nigel, members of the publishing crew there, sported their snow-themed “jumpers.”
At each bookstore we were warmly welcomed with cookies, tea, and copies of The Snow Child to sign. Readers I had met via Twitter or Facebook stopped by to introduce themselves in person. At one shop, an adorable little boy named Harry gave me a bouquet of flowers; at another a talented and delightful bookseller named Cara presented me with a knitted red hat, scarf and mittens. Without a doubt, this was the most fun I’ve ever had on a book tour.
To top it off, I joined my friends from the UK publisher Headline for the National Book Awards at the gorgeous Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London. As we sipped bubbly, I had the opportunity to meet the authors of some of my favorite books of the year. Then, when the announcer said I had won International Author of the Year, I somehow managed to stumble to the stage in a happy daze.
The next morning, I jumped on a plane back to Alaska. I spent the next three days in a jet-lagged stupor, wondering why on earth there was no snow in December in Alaska.
Dec. 9 I was back in the air, off to New York City with my husband Sam as welcome company. The Snow Child has been short listed for the Center for Fiction’s first novel prize.
For the first time, Sam and I had a relaxing afternoon to meander around the city. We found our way to holiday-festooned Macy’s, Bryant Park with its ice skaters and Christmas tree, the New York Public Library, Greenwich Village, the flower district. At Little, Brown and Company publishing house, we were happily surprised by a Champagne welcome, and I had a chance to visit with the wonderful people there.
The Center for Fiction events began with a reading, at which Alif the Unseen author G. Willow Wilson impressed us all by giving her reading with her newborn baby in her arms. I shared a few passages from The Snow Child, and thoroughly enjoyed readings by fellow finalists Ben Fountain (Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk), Peter Heller (The Dog Stars), Tupelo Hassman (Girlchild), Kevin Powers (The Yellow Birds), and Maggie Shipstead (Seating Arrangements). (Absolution author Patrick Flanery was unable to attend.)
The next night we all gathered at the posh University Club, joined by esteemed authors such as Jennifer Egan, Ian McEwan, George Saunders and Jonathan Franzen. There was more Champagne, more great food, and when Ben Fountain was awarded the first novel prize, he gave a moving speech about being a 54-year-old debut novelist.
Later that night, Sam and I were packing up and racing to the airport.
We arrived in Anchorage to a snowstorm. The roads were treacherous, but we managed the 70-mile dark and snowy drive home. There we rediscovered what wonderful neighbors we have.
Craig and Jenny had taken care of our two daughters and our golden retriever in our absence — everyone was well-fed, loved, and happy. Donna had looked after our chickens. Karl was plowing our driveway with his tractor — nearly two feet of snow had fallen in a single day. Once inside the door, we found that Donna had cooked us a homemade meatloaf with mashed potatoes and carrots, and Craig and Jenny had decorated our living room with Christmasy crafts they had made with the girls.
This past year’s journey with The Snow Child has been a remarkable and exciting one. But in the end, I am always grateful to come home to my family and friends. There truly is no place like home.
Wishing you a happy holiday season,
First let me say thank you for all your messages and emails. It would be a lonely endeavor to write a blog and maintain a website if it all just disappeared into a great, silent void. I’m so glad to hear from you.
During the past few months, some of you have asked questions that I want to catch up with today:
Is The Snow Child cover art available as a print or in another form? I agree — both the US and UK editions have covers beautiful enough to hang on the wall. So far no one has gone that additional step and offered prints to sell. The art for the US cover is by the Italian artist Shout, also known as Alessandro Gottardo. You can see more of his artwork here. Cover designer Keith Hayes with Little, Brown and Company then took the art work and designed the overall cover. In the UK, credit for the cover goes to Patrick Insole at Headline Publishing. I will certainly mention your request to buy prints to both my publishers.
Will there be a movie of The Snow Child? If and when a film is in the works, I will certainly let you all know.
Do I have any US book tours planned? Not currently. I will be in New York City at the beginning of December for the Center for Fiction Awards Dinner, and later in the spring I will be Oregon (more on that soon.) And as I mentioned in my last letter, I will be in London on a short book tour soon. I so appreciate your kind requests that I come to bookstores in your part of the world. If the opportunity arises, I will certainly announce any travel plans here on my blog.
Can you still enter Little, Brown and Company’s Snow Day Sweepstakes?
Yes, the contest is open until Dec. 6 to win a basket full of Snow Child goodies for your book club. Click here to learn more. Unfortunately, it’s only open to US readers.
Am I working on another book? Yes, whenever time allows. It won’t be a sequel to The Snow Child, but so far it includes some similarities — set in historical Alaska with mythological elements.
What am I reading right now? I was down with a cold-flu illness this past weekend, so I read a lot. At the enthusiastic request of my 13-year-old, I finished The Night Circus, which I enjoyed thoroughly. Then I read Alif The Unseen by G. Willow Wilson. Imagine One Thousand and One Nights meets Harry Potter meets 1984. A great read! Next up — Louise Erdrich’s The Round House, which just won the National Book Award.
Do we have snow yet? It’s funny because we are having the exact kind of winter I describe in the beginning of The Snow Child. Typically by Halloween we have enough snow to sled and build snowmen. But it is nearly Thanksgiving and it is dusty, gray, cold, windy and snowless. Our two daughters are doing their version of a snow dance — they cut out paper snowflakes and taped them all over our living room windows.
Are there any questions I missed?
And how about you — what are you reading? And do you have snow?