Posts Tagged don rearden

Other People's Books

Pup & Pokey — Going Rogue with an Alaskan Children’s Book

October 16, 2014 by

 

 

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Pup & Pokey (Written by Seth Kantner, Illustrated by Beth Hill)

 

Despite what you might gather from watching reality shows, Fox News pundits, or movies set in Alaska and filmed far from Alaska, we’re not all a bunch of goofballs, idiots, and aspiring world leaders. Alaska is at once a strangely urban and multi-cultural landscape, and at the same time a rugged and pristine wilderness. The place is infinitely complex in terms of politics, people, and possibility.

One area where Alaska is rapidly finding a different place on the map that doesn’t fit within the stereotypes of our state in any shape or form is literature. We’ve had a few amazing years of literature when it comes to writers and publishing. I won’t even attempt to list all the successes that we’ve had simply for fear of missing or leaving out a friend or four. From being the home to the amazing Alaska Quarterly Review and a Pulitzer finalist to a host of best-sellers and major poetry awards, we’ve been racking up the accolades here.

For me, one of the cool things has been to be in a position to meet and become friends with some of these amazing authors. Alaska is huge, but the writing community fairly small. I’ve had the great fortune to work on some teaching materials for Whiteby award winning author Seth Kantner many years back. Seth wrote Ordinary Wolves, arguably one of Alaska’s best novels, and a great collection of essays, Shopping for Porcupine.  Through that project I met Seth, and since then he’s become the older brother I never had. We share stories, laughter, and often publishing pains — not to mention some pretty cool adventures in the wilderness.

For years I’d forward Seth photos of my sister’s artwork. She’s a commercial fisherwoman, teacher, parent, and painter in SW Alaska. She’s self-taught and talented as hell. Seth recognized her potential. Next thing I know, she’s illustrating a kid’s book he wrote and they had a publisher. The book is called Pup & Pokey, an endearing tale of the friendship between a wolf and a porcupine, and I’m really proud to have somehow been a part of this collaboration of two talented Alaskans: Seth Kantner and Beth Hill.

This is how the real Alaska works. Good people creating good art. Not everything is screwed up here, as any number of reality shows, bad movies, and political wannabes might have you believe.

 

ravens gift cover

Don Rearden grew up on the tundra of Southwestern Alaska, an experience that informed his critically acclaimed debut literary thriller The Raven’s Gift. While calling Don “a master of the cliffhanger” The Washington Post went on to praise the novel’s “hunter-hunted suspense of Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male, the post-apocalyptic bleakness of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and the haunting mysteriousness of The X-Files.”

Stay tuned for more posts from Don Rearden and his upcoming Alaskan thriller only from The Rogue Reader.


Blog, Craft, Fan's Note, Other People's Books

Nowhere Is The Best Place to Be – Don Rearden’s Alaska

July 7, 2014 by

I am connected to the web via a satellite powered by solar. Remember dial-up? It’s like Dial-up’s great grand mother. Hit send and go for a kayak ride or read a novel in the outhouse… The weather was too warm and too still on take-off from Bethel in the float plane so we had to shed some weight, which meant leaving my whiskey and laptop, too. So this dispatch is composed on my phone.

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Finding the Motherlode

The ears ring the first day or so in the wilderness as they adjust to the true sound of silence. Gone is the hum of humanity. No distractions to the ear drums from the clatter of gasoline powered this and digital that. Once your ears adjust you can hear the sound of the blood swishing in your veins, the cacophony of tundra song birds is endless and loud, and hearing becomes feeling when the loon call echoes out miles down the lake.

We’ve been here since the 4th of July. We’re the only ones on a lake that is a mile wide and twenty some miles long. Jagged mountains drop down straight into the lake, and giant bears walk her rocky beaches while even bigger lake trout patrol the blue black depths just off the shoreline. I hunted and explored these lakes as a kid, and it feels good to be back. This might arguably be one of the most remote and pristine lake chains left in the world. The land is legendary for brutal storms and survival tales and strange Alaskan horror stories. From campfire tales of Klutuq, an Eskimo trapper known for decapitating area miners, to devastating plane wrecks with high level US political figures here for the world-class fishing, to disappearances linked to everything from bears and Bigfoot to mysterious discoveries. A story an old friend told me from the next lake up the chain was that a pilot landed to pick up a couple recreational miners and their camp was empty. They had left a note, “Found the Motherlode! We’ve left for Dillingham.” No one ever found them, but ever since everyone has searched for that gold.

I nearly died here in my twenties during a brutal storm, a story I’ll share with you soon. Today, I’m off to kayak and explore a little, but first I’ve got to go clear the yard. My son wants to play outside and my wife just informed me that on her walk to the outhouse it smelled fishy. This time of year fish stink equals a visiting bear. If I don’t return from this trip you can speculate that either a bear or Bigfoot got me, but the truth is that the land took me long ago and the Motherlode for me is when the ears stop ringing from the silence and instead tune into the sounds of life and I get to share this amazing wilderness with my family.

 

ravens gift cover

Don Rearden grew up on the tundra of Southwestern Alaska, an experience that informed his critically acclaimed debut literary thriller The Raven’s Gift. While calling Don “a master of the cliffhanger” The Washington Post went on to praise the novel’s “hunter-hunted suspense of Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male, the post-apocalyptic bleakness of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and the haunting mysteriousness of The X-Files.”

Stay tuned for more posts from Don Rearden and his upcoming Alaskan thriller only from The Rogue Reader.