Perhaps you’ve heard of Alaska Book Week. It’s a celebration of Alaskan books and authors held every October. Booksellers, libraries and others host book signings and author events, readings and book displays. This year I’m feeling a little out of the loop, since I’m not home to participate. But I can contribute by telling you about some of the best Alaskan authors. Some had books released in 2014, and some I just got around to reading or I met the author this year. But they are all outstanding in their genres.
For literary fiction, you can’t beat Eowyn Ivey’s The Snow Child. This book’s images and characters stayed with me long after I read the last pages. For crime fiction, John Straley’s prose is so well crafted that you’ll forget it’s not poetry. I am looking forward to reading his latest, Cold Storage. Heather Lende’s nonfiction sounds like you’re sharing a cup of coffee with her. Her most recent book is Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs. For picture books, Cindy Pendleton’s illustrations are beautiful and lighthearted at the same time. The Pirates of Kachemak Bay, written by Amy Murrell-Hausold and illustrated by Cindy, is a lovely romp through childhood in Alaska.
Alaskan Cinthia Ritchie is underrated, in my opinion. Her novel Dolls Behaving Badly is still one of the funniest, most soulful books I have ever read. And the setting and characters are purely Alaskan. Even if you don’t normally read women’s fiction, give it a try. Carla and her family will steal your heart.
I should also mention the great writers’ groups in Alaska. I belong to 49 Writers, AKRWA (the Alaska chapter of Romance Writers of America) and SCBWI-Alaska (the Alaska chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). I gained so much from each of these groups from formal workshops, to critique groups, to friendships that have sustained me in my writing and personal life. Their support helped me develop my craft and continues to guide writers all over Alaska.
Happy Alaska Book Week! Next time you are looking for a new book, try one of these books or check out the ABW website at http://www.alaskabookweek.com.