Postcard from Ninilchik & Homer

postcard

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,

Eowyn

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,

Eowyn

Waiting for Spring

Spring sunshine, but still plenty of snow and ice as March comes to a close.

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.

Cheers!

Eowyn

Snowman fun

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.

With the talented Anchorage ice sculptors Carol and Tom Lewando.

 

One of my favorite snowmen from the event.

 

The Snow Child ice sculpture by the Lewando team.

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.

Cheers!

Eowyn

 

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.

Cheers!

Eowyn

Annie Aube embroidery

Embroidery and beadwork by Annie Aube

 

Donna Braendel painting

Watercolor on canvas by Donna Braendel

 

Maureen Campbell web image

Watercolor by Maureen Campbell

 

Yuliya Klem embroidery

Embroidery and fiber art by Yuliya Klem

 

 

 

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,

Eowyn

sun

Here comes the sun! As seen from my living room today at 1:15 p.m.

Home again

Dear holiday reader,

Whew! What an amazing couple of weeks.

UK national book award

In London with the UK National Book Award for International Author of the Year. Thanks to my UK publisher, Headline.

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.

center for fiction

With Sam at the Center for Fiction awards dinner in New York City.

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.

Snow at last

The welcoming sight of fresh snow in our backyard.

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,

Eowyn

 

 

 

 

Catching up

Dear curious reader,

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?

Cheers!

Eowyn

 

The Snow Child in paperback!

Grizzly bear tracks in the snow.

Dear snowy reader,

Today I am excited to announce that The Snow Child is now available in paperback here in the United States. It’s being shipped this week, and I’m already hearing reports of its landing in bookstores around the country.

Those of you in the UK or Australia or New Zealand might be baffled. The paperback was published there in August, but each publisher sets its own schedule.

So here in Palmer, Alaska, we’re celebrating. I’ll be at Fireside Books on Saturday to sign copies from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. And I might have a glass of bubbly and a snowflake cookie.

It has been a remarkable journey. This past year since The Snow Child was published in hardcover has been full of surprises. There was a five-week world tour, reviews and award nominations. I received word that The Snow Child was shortlisted for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, which means a trip to New York City for the awards dinner in December.

I will also be returning to London this December for some book events and other excitement. I’ll share more details soon.

The Snow Child has been nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award, determined by readers. You can cast your vote here.

And there are more surprises coming up this winter in Alaska that I will write about as soon as I can.

I did have one disappointment, though. The world tour meant that I missed autumn, my favorite season in Alaska. I wasn’t able to pick wild blueberries on the tundra, and our family wasn’t able to go on our annual caribou or moose hunt.

But last week my husband Sam and I had a rare gift — he and I spent a quiet day hunting for caribou north of our home. The sun was sparkling off the snow. We saw grizzly bear tracks, caribou too far away to shoot, a curious coyote. It was the kind of spectacular Alaska day that keeps me grounded even as I enjoy the whirlwind of The Snow Child.

And thanks to Sam, our family gratefully worked all weekend butchering and packaging meat from the caribou he got on another trip. We’ve also managed to get the firewood split and stacked, so with a well-filled freezer and a warm fire, we are feeling quite content.
I hope you are, too.

Cheers!

Eowyn

The winter sun sets on tracks in the snow — caribou, hunters, coyotes, and bears.

Postcard from home


Hello from Alaska! After five weeks circling the globe, I am so very glad to be back. My first morning, I was welcomed with snow. It has since melted and we are now enjoying an unseasonably warm autumn. The leaves are gone from the trees, the fireweed blooms have turned to feathery fluff, and the tall grass is golden.

I missed so much about this place: crisp Alaskan air, spruce trees, mountains in all directions, friendly greetings from neighbors at the post office and grocery store, caribou steak and new potatoes, rhubarb cordial, a birch fire in the woodstove, family close by, and the complete silence and darkness of nightfall.

This weekend I head out again, but this time to a kind of second home — the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association trade show , this year in Tacoma, Washington. Sunday morning I’ll be speaking at a breakfast event along with authors Jon Klassen, Karen Cushman, and Sherman Alexie.

I look forward to visiting with you bookseller friends out there.

Cheers!

Eowyn

 

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