Yesterday at the grocery store I ran into my first librarian. When I was a little girl, Jeanne ran the Palmer Public Library, which at that time was a cramped room in city hall. There was a jar on the counter where you could put a quarter if you felt guilty about turning in a book late. And in a cozy back corner, I would flip through picture books.
Jeanne was always friendly and helpful, and when my mom and I walked through the door, she seemed genuinely glad to see us. She planted the warm spot in my heart for libraries.
During this past year of book events, I’ve come to realize that libraries are close to many people’s hearts, and for good reason. It’s the only place that I know of in our society where anyone is welcome, everything is free, and books are the focus.
This past month I participated in the Anchorage Reads library program. Anchorage Public Libaries chose The Snow Child for this year’s book, and they organized a snowman building contest, readings, a panel and other events. I’ve also phoned in to other library book clubs around the country as they’ve met to discuss The Snow Child. Again and again I’m struck by what a wonderful blessing these libraries and their events are to communities. They welcome people of all ages, interests and walks of life and bring them together in the joy of reading.
I’m looking forward to some more library events. On Thursday evening at 7 p.m. I’ll be close to home at Wasilla Public Library where I’ll do a reading and answer questions from readers. Then at the beginning of May, I’ll be in Bend, Oregon for “A Novel Idea”, organized by Deschutes Public Library.
I want to offer my gratitude, and three cheers, for libraries around the world that give the love of reading to children, a sanctuary of ideas and literacy to whoever seeks it, and inspiration to writers.
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.
Dear bookish reader,
Northwest Book Lovers, the blog for Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, recently asked met to do a guest post. It was a wonderful chance for me to express something I’d been wanting to say for a long time.
In the fall of 2001, a sign appeared in a storefront in Palmer, Alaska. “Bookstore . . . Coming Soon.” Whenever I drove by, I would slow down and try to peek in the windows, and over several weeks I watched boxes being stacked and unpacked and bare wooden shelves installed. I can’t remember ever being so excited about something in my hometown. But as much as I anticipated its opening, I never could have imagined how this little bookstore would change my fate.
Read the rest here … http://nwbooklovers.org/2013/01/23/how-a-bookstore-changed-my-world/
Dear Alaskan reader,
I’m honored to announce that Anchorage, Alaska, has selected The Snow Child for its community read this year. Events began Friday with a lovely reception at the Alaska Humanities Forum, and during the next six weeks there will be opportunities to attend writing panels, build snow men, and learn more about the program.
Anchorage Reads is organized by Anchorage Public Library and, like similar events around the country, it aims to foster literacy and bring people of all ages and walks of life together around one book. Last year, Anchorage chose the graphic novel Persepolis, and in previous years there have been classics like Frankenstein and To Kill a Mockingbird, as well as modern books like The Trap.
Here is a schedule for Anchorage Reads 2013. All events are free and open to the public.
Feb. 2 SNOWMAN DAY: 2-4 p.m. Help decorate the Loussac Library lawn with snowmen for Anchorage Reads 2013! This all-ages kickoff event will feature a snowman-building contest, a live ice sculpture demonstration, cookies and hot cocoa. I hope to see you there!
Feb. 4 BOOK SIGNING & INTERVIEW: 5-7 p.m. I’ll be at the UAA Book Store for a reading, book signing, and an interview with UAA Creative Arts Director David Stevenson.
Feb. 6 KSKA HOMETOWN ALASKA: 2-3 pm. Tune in to 91.1 FM for Hometown Alaska, where we’ll talk about Anchorage Reads and The Snow Child and you can call in with your questions.
Feb. 9 49 WRITERS: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Loussac Library’s Wilda Marston Theatre
- 10 a.m. – noon “Writing Your Place” Workshop with Alaska author Douglass Bourne.
- 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. I’ll be on stage for a reading and Q&A.
- 2:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. Alaska Authors Panel. I’ll join Alaska authors Seth Kantner, Don Rearden, and Sherry Simpson to discuss how we write about place.
Feb. 16 ANCHORAGE READS FINALE: 1-3 pm Loussac Library, Wilda Marston Theatre. I’ll do a reading and Q&A. There will also be a local dance performance and other fun.
Feb. 18 SNOW MAIDEN LECTURE: 5-7 pm UAA Bookstore
The Snow-Maiden Fairytale in Russian Folklore, Literature, Music and Arts, by visiting Professor Victoria Kno.
In addition to all these events, readers can particpate in an online discussion about the book on the AnchorageReads2013 Facebook page. For book clubs, Snow Child‘ book club bags are available through Anchorage Public Library. Bags contain 10 books, author biography and ten book club tips in a tote bag.
And keep your eye out for photos of Alaskans reading The Snow Child. Anchorage Public Library has printed a series of posters with hockey players, government leaders, and other local celebrities reading the book.
P.S. Thank you to all the organizers and sponsors who make these events possible.
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.
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.
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?
Dear bookish reader,
Exciting news from London this week — The Snow Child has been shortlisted for the UK National Book Award’s International Author of the Year. The awards dinner, where they will announce the winners, is Dec. 4. So I’m returning to London!
You can read more about the UK National Book Awards here.
There are several prizes given out, including UK Author of the Year, Popular Fiction and Nonfiction Books of the Year, and New Writer of the Year. All this means I might have the chance to spot someone like JK Rowling, Ian McEwan, Zadie Smith, or Hilary Mantel. I’m not usually one to go ga-ga over celebrities, but famous authors of fantastic books? Well, that’s a different story. And I might also have the opportunity to meet the authors of two wonderful books I’ve read recently — The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce and Care Of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles.
Equally exciting, my travels to London mean I’ll have time to visit some bookstores. In case you are in the area and would like to stop by and say hello, here’s my signing schedule:
Monday Dec. 3:
9.30am The Wallingford Bookshop (10c St Martins Street, Wallingford)
10.45am The Book House (93 High Street, Thame)
12.30pm Chapter One Bookshop (136 Crockhamwell Road, Woodley)
3.00pm The Chorleywood Bookshop (4 New Parade, Rickmansworth)
4.00pm The Gerrards Cross Bookshop (12a Packhorse Road, Gerrards Cross)
Tuesday Dec. 4:
11.00am Waterstones Guildford (71-73 High Street Guildford, Surrey)
I hope to see some of you during my travels.
Dear book clubbing reader,
In celebration of the paperback release of The Snow Child here in the United States, my publisher Little, Brown and Company is hosting a fun giveaway on its Facebook page. This week they will announce a chance to win a snow party gift basket and copies of the book for your book club.
So watch the Little, Brown and Company Facebook page, and I hope you all win.