Where I’ve been, and where I’m going

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Floating the Copper River the summer of 2011 as I began research for my next novel, Shadows on the Wolverine.

Dear kind reader,

I’m afraid it’s been too long since I last wrote. Thanks to all of you who continue to follow my blog and check in regularly. I have stepped back from some of my online presence because I am deep into writing my next novel, Shadows on the Wolverine.

Some of you have asked about my new story: it is set on the same Wolverine River I invented for The Snow Child, but it takes place 35 years earlier, in 1885. It is inspired in part by a true-life military expedition that many have called the Lewis and Clark of Alaska. Along the way, however, my fictional characters encounter fantastical, mythological surprises. Part of the fun for me as a writer is that I’ve chosen to tell the story through diaries, reports, letters and other documents.

For those of you who have kindly asked when Shadows on the Wolverine will be available, I’m hoping to get it to my agent and editor this summer, and we will proceed from there. As soon as I have any firm dates, I will let you all know.

Even as I work on this new novel, however, The Snow Child is never far away. In fact, it is taking me from Alaska to Rochester, NY, later this month! The wonderful people at Writers & Books have chosen The Snow Child for this year’s “If All of Rochester Read the Same Book.”

March 19-21 I will be doing a series of events, including book signings and talks, around the Rochester area. You can view my schedule here at the Writers & Books website. Their website also includes an interview with me and other information. I hope to see some of you there.

In the meantime, I will continue my adventure along the Wolverine River.

Cheers!

Eowyn

P.S. I’ll be doing an online chat tomorrow at 8 p.m. ET on the HerRochester Facebook page. Feel free to join the discussion!

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Postcard from Ninilchik & Homer

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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

A heart full of gratitude

indiebound150x150Dear reader, bookseller, friend,

I never imagined, when I received the shocking news this week that The Snow Child was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, that anything else related to my writing career would ever be so powerful and moving.

And then I learned yesterday that independent booksellers across America had selected The Snow Child for their 2013 Indies Choice Award for debut fiction.

It is difficult to express my gratitude and wonder.

Certainly it is thrilling to have the book be considered for the Pulitzer — this is an award with a long, rich, admirable history, and that history includes many of the very novels that made me want to be a writer.

That said, the knowledge that American booksellers, the people who are the life-force of the book world, who read voraciously, talk endlessly about books, and offer their expertise up to the world, often for very little pay or benefit  — that these booksellers would choose to champion my novel is the highest honor I can imagine.

I am no longer working at Fireside Books — my schedule with both The Snow Child and my novel in progress have become all-consuming. But after nearly 10 years there, I still think of it as a second home. I still think of booksellers as my colleagues, my comrades, my friends. And to you I say thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Cheers!

Eowyn

 

News from here and there

Dear faithful reader,

Anyone in New York City this week? I’ll be doing an event 7 p.m. Wednesday March 6 at the Barnes & Noble at 86th and Lexington. It is in conjunction with the Discover Great New Writers program.

In other news, I’m excited to announce that my US and UK publishers have offered me a contract for my next novel.

Here’s an article from The Bookseller magazine:

Headline imprint Tinder Press has acquired a further novel by the author of The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey.

Publisher Mary-Anne Harrington acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in Ivey’s second novel, Shadows on the Wolverine, through a world rights deal brokered by Jeff Kleinman at Folio Literary Management and Little, Brown US. The publication date is still to be confirmed.

Shadows on the Wolverine tells the story of an adventurer who travels deep into unexplored Alaskan territory to discover that native legends are real and have come to life. The story unfolds through diaries, newspaper clippings, letters and apocrypha. It is inspired by an actual 1885 military expedition.

- See more at: http://www.thebookseller.com/news/tinder-buys-second-snow-child-author.html#sthash.iM8hutQM.dpuf

I’m so honored to be working again with Reagan Arthur here in the US and Mary-Anne Harrington in the UK. The novel is not finished yet, so if you don’t find me online quite as much, you’ll know why — I’m busy writing :)
Cheers!
Eowyn

Where in the world?

Dear international reader,

I’m preparing for a month-long, whirlwind book tour that will take me to Australia, New Zealand and Europe. I’m hoping I’ll see some of you along the way. Anyone in Paris, London, Auckland, or Brisbane?

Here’s my schedule so far:

Aug. 31 – Sept. 2 Australia Melbourne Writers Festival. I’ll be participating in panel discussions and readings. This event in particular looks like a lot of fun!

Sept. 6 – Sept. 9 Brisbane Writers Festival.  I’m on several panel discussions about everything from bookselling to magic in fiction.

Sept. 13 Auckland, New Zealand. 6-7:30 p.m. I’ll be at Takapuna Library for a book talk and signing.

Sept. 17 London:

Sept. 20-23 Paris, Festival America. I’m on several panels, including discussing “characters in search of a writer,” and writing from an extreme local. And some of my very favorite authors will be at this international festival.

I’ll post letters and photos whenever I have the chance. In the meantime, I’m trying to figure out how I can pack everything I need for this trip into a single carry-on.

Cheers!

Eowyn

P.S. Thank you for your comments on my last letter — I so enjoyed reading your stories about wishing for water, dowsing for water, and sometimes getting too much of it. As I write to you just now, Sam is wiring and plumbing, and professionals are installing the pump in our well. So close I can almost taste that first cold, refreshing glass of water …

Faina appears in North Carolina

Dear kind readers,

First and foremost, thank you so much for all the wonderful support in the nomination for the Guardian First Book Award. Ten readers have already posted their thoughtful reviews on the website on the Guardian’s website. And thank you for the clarification from cravingpages: you have to register with the Guardian, which is free, and log in before you can post a review.

Another note of gratitude — we are nearing 1,000 likes on The Snow Child’s Facebook page!

And finally, I received a fun email the other day from a member of a book club on the Currituck Sound in North Carolina that recently read The Snow Child:

It was 90 degrees that day…..but the home was decorated with snowflakes and outside we had a mockup of Faina. Shown in the photo are the 3 hostesses with Faina. It was a great discussion with 26 gals attending! We served “moose meat” sandwiches, potato salad, stuffed eggs, blueberries, carrots, white cake and cranberry cordials.

Faina on a sunny beach in North Carolina.

As I’ve mentioned, I am a member of a book club here in Palmer, Alaska, and it gives me such joy to think of women around the world gathering to share their love of books.

Have you ever hosted a theme book club, either around The Snow Child or another book? What kind of decorations and food did you feature?

Cheers!

Eowyn

The Guardian First Book Award

Dear writerly reader,

First I want to thank you all for your brilliant/lovely/surprising descriptions of summer nights. Comments appeared both here on my blog and through the website goodreads. Cicadas, fireflies, sparrows, the late-setting sun, noisy traffic, hooting owls — I was transported to London, Florida, Chicago, Australia, Iowa, the Netherlands, Italy. You all are amazing!

I also want to share some exciting news. I learned this morning that The Snow Child is among reader-nominated titles being considered for the long list for The Guardian First Book Award. This is one of UK’s most prestigious book prizes, and I am so thrilled to have my book in the mix.

Readers are already showing their support for The Snow Child by leaving their comments with The Guardian by visiting here and by tweeting on Twitter
@guardianbooks.

The long list for the prize consists of 10 books, fiction and nonfiction, published in the UK during the current year. It must  be the author’s first book. The Guardian has already selected nine titles for the long list, but the final title will be chosen based on reader response.

According to The Guardian:

“If you have read The Snow Child, add your review to the book page and have a say in the final selection. The 10th title will be announced at the end of July.”

The Guardian will announce the 10th title at the end of July, and it’ll go forward to the longlist, to be judged as by Waterstones books groups around the country, along with a central panel.

I have been so touched by the response from readers around the world. Thank you everyone!

Cheers!

Eowyn

 

 

 

A letter writer’s quandary

Dear wondering reader,

During the past few days, I’ve had a few messages and comments from friends wondering if everything is OK because I haven’t written in a while. So here I am, sitting at our kitchen table and looking out at a quiet, rainy summer morning here in Alaska and wondering  — why do writers sometimes run out of things to say?

Maybe because at times life is too intense, or too dull, too overwhelming, or underwhelming, to know what to make of it. Writing, even if it’s just a letter to friends, requires you to say something that you hope is at least slightly interesting or important. And that isn’t always easy.

As I mentioned in my last letter, part of my distraction is seasonal. This time of year, I find such joy working in the greenhouse or garden or taking a walk at 9 p.m. around our property with my husband as we talk over dreams of a log-cabin sauna here and an apple orchard there. Writing is a reflective act that requires us to live in our heads, to reprocess the past and imagine other times and places. Sometimes it feels good to live here and now. It feels good to get my hands dirty and think of nothing but how many shovelfuls it’s going to take to fill this wheelbarrow.

In truth, part of my distraction comes from the sort of challenges we all face at one time or another in our lives — the unexpected heartbreaks and wonders that knock us off our feet and make us question what is important and how we can best spend our time.

And part of it might be a bit of social networking overload. Without any prompting from editor or agent or colleague, I jumped with both feet into Facebook, Twitter, and blogging more than a year ago, and I’ve spent quite a bit of time each day doing it. Maybe I’m trying to find a balance now between this new life as a published author and my old life of seclusion.

I am still doing other kinds of writing. As we gear up for the paperback release of The Snow Child in the US and the UK this fall, I’ve been writing essays and articles and short stories. I have an article about the art of picking blueberries that will come out in the next issue of Alaska Magazine, and I’m working on a short story for a UK publication that I’m really excited about.

It feels good to write these kind of pieces, reworking the structure and themes and sentences to make something new. So I guess I am writing, just not as many letters or tweets.

Even sitting here, though, I have thought of a few letters I’ve been meaning to send to you. (Thanks to my book club Betties for some of these ideas.) Maybe a photo of our backyard in broad daylight at midnight. Or thoughts on some amazing and frustrating books I’ve recently read. Or maybe a recipe for rhubarb jam.

Cheers!

Eowyn

Catching up

The Snow Child in Lithuania.

Dear longtime reader,

When I worked as a newspaper reporter, we would print breaking stories and then months later realize that we never let our readers know the outcome of the story. I’m afraid I’m guilty of this as a blogger. So today, I want to follow up on a few items I have mentioned in my letters to you:

  • The Ice Rink: A Bust  I’m afraid our backyard ice rink was doomed from the beginning of this very snowy winter. Even if we had figured out how to haul enough water to fill in the frame, it snowed so much this winter it would have been a full-time job just trying to keep it dug out. I had nearly forgotten about it until this last week when the snow began to melt. There it is — the remains of our ice skating dreams. But maybe there is hope for next winter because …
  • A well. Sam and I are in the midst of scheduling the drilling of our well this summer. It’ s an exciting but somewhat daunting prospect. Some of our neighbors have 100-foot, clear running wells, while others had to blast through bedrock and go down more than 300 feet. And there’s no guarantee you’ll ever hit water. But we’re going to cross our fingers and hope for the best. I’ll keep you posted … I promise.
  • Have you seen the snow child? Some time ago I mentioned wanting people to submit photos and images of the snow child — snow sculptures, maybe drawings or artwork that called the fairy tale to mind. Many readers have been posting fabulous images on The Snow Child Facebook page. It has been wonderful to see all the different interpretations, images of fox and ice princesses and much more. If you would like to share an image, please post it on the Facebook page.
  • Faina travels the world. This week I got news that The Snow Child will be published in China by OmniBook in Taipei. In addition, the English language version distributed by my UK publisher Headline has made its way to India. That brings us up to more than 20 languages and around 30 countries, that I know of. Last week a reader posted an image of the Lithuanian cover on The Snow Child Facebook page. What an amazing journey Faina has taken us on!

So now that I’ve caught up on a few things, I was wondering — is there anything else I’ve forgotten? Do you have any questions for me?

Cheers!

Eowyn

From fairy tale to novel to snowy animation

Dear artistic reader,

I first struck on the idea for my novel The Snow Child when I discovered the Russian fairy tale Snegurochka. An old man and woman have one great sorrow — they are unable to have children — but one night they build a little girl out of snow, and she comes to life. This simple folktale has been told through lacquer paintings, opera, ballet, and many other forms. But my own inspiration came from a paperback children’s version of the story with illustrations by the Alaskan artist Barbara Lavallee.

So it is wonderful and surprising, with my novel now published, to learn that The Snow Child is continuing this chain of inspiration. Having read my book, a UK artist completed a series of  ice sculptures and ultimately produced this “ice animated” short film in Finland. It is beautiful and magical.

 

In his blog, the sculptor wrote:

In October a publishing firm had sent me a proof of a book called the Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, it had not been published at the time and I found it quite magical and was very lucky to read it before anyone else.  This led to me writing my own story about an Angel that Had No Wings, and this became the theme for an Ice Sculpture Trail in Bradford.  So it dawned on me that this girl would want to play with the Lights that I think are just simply Life, the sparkle of Life that is within us all that just wants to play.  But as with many things that sparkle is often shy and they run away from the girl.

You can read more about the film on his blog, at www.sandsculptureice.co.uk/blog/.

With much gratitude to the talented artist Jamie, and cheers to you all,

Eowyn

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