|Quyana --- the Yup'ik word for "Thank you"|
A Writer Gives Thanks
Often at this time of year we get too wrapped up in the trappings of the holidays to actually remember the point of the actual holiday. Turkey. Or is it football? No wait. Black Friday holiday shopping! Right?
What happened to just being thankful?
For myself I wanted to take a few moments to actually give thanks as a writer. Writing is often a said to be a solitary and lonely occupation. I’m not sure who said that, and I’m not sure I agree. As I began thinking about composing a little note of thanks, I realized, maybe it isn’t so lonely.
This has been an amazing year thus far for me in terms of my writing career, and I am simply beyond grateful and I owe so many people an Alaskan sized debt of gratitude for helping make my writing dreams a reality. I owe thanks to various countries, agents, publishers, critics, newspapers, reporters, bloggers, booksellers, book clubs, readers, writers, professors, secondary teachers, students, friends, family, and fans.
Those acquainted with the long and convoluted route taken by my novel on the road to getting published in the United States, know I have much to be thankful for. Thanks to Adam Chromy, my agent here in the US for fighting for The Raven’s Gift every step of the way. Thanks to my foreign agents for getting my novel published in France this year, and thanks to that publisher Fleuve Noir and my French editor Benedicte Lombardo.
Thanks to Penguin Canada for continuing to believe in The Raven’s Gift and for getting the book into the United States with Pintail Book and Penguin USA. I am grateful to my Adrienne Kerr and Nicole Winstanley at Penguin for continuing to have faith in the novel. Thanks to Elena Hershey and the Pintail folks working tirelessly to help get the book into bookstores all over America.
I have worked tirelessly to share my novel with the world and at times it has felt an impossible task to get the book into the hands of readers or to get the attention of reviewers and critics, but the support of some awesome booksellers across Alaska and across the country continues to inspire me. I owe thanks to dedicated booksellers like Fireside Book’s David Cheezem and his staff, Nathan Dunbar in Chicago, Deb Bonito at Mosquito Books, and so many others.
There are those who I also can’t begin to even express my thanks to --- critic Michael Dirda and The Washington Post. When other newspapers and critics refused to give a book like mine the time of day, a Pulitzer Prize winning critic steps up and writes the most powerful and beautiful review of the book I’ve had to date. His review in the Washington Post was do damn good I almost ran out and bought a copy of the book myself! In addition to Dirda’s killer review, countless amazing bloggers have blogged and promoted the book --- far too many to name here, but you know who you are, and now you know I am giving you thanks, too!
I can’t thank The Washington Post without also thanking The Anchorage Daily News for their coverage of my book, so quyana to Mike Dunham and David Hulen, at ADN, and to the Alaska Dispatch and Megan Edge and others there. And while I’m thanking news folks, I would be totally remiss if I didn’t thank Steve Heimel at Alaska Public Media for inviting me on Talk of Alaska. That was definitely one of the highlights of the year, and quite an honor. When you’ve grown up in the bush, public radio is just a life essential and to get to chat with the actual voice of Alaska, well that was something I’ll never forget. So thanks to Steve and Lori Townsend, and everyone who made that incredibly fun hour possible.
Now on to thanking the readers and writers in my life. You have made this year absolutely magical. Those readers who have invited me to into their homes to meet with bookclubs? Those were some discussions I’ll forever cherish. I had never thought about visiting bookclubs as an author, and this turns out to be one of my favorite kind of author event. What more can you ask for than to sit down with a group of dedicated readers, perhaps with good wine and even better food, and talk about your novel? The answer is nothing. That is as good as it gets. So thanks to all those bookclubs, including those I haven’t attended yet!
I also never expected my book to be required reading! So I owe special thanks to those professors and highschool teachers using my book in their courses and the students writing about the book and contacting me with their thoughts and questions. I can really think of no higher honor than to know that The Raven’s Gift is being used in English courses, and even graduate level Psychology courses --- unless I suppose the book gets banned! Perhaps that can be something I am grateful for next year?! (Come on people! The book has sex, violence, cannibalism, and even bad words! It needs to be banned! Okay, I admit, I just want to be on the banned book list!)
Finally, I want to thank the readers and authors for all the support. Alaskans have been so amazing and helpful in spreading the word about my The Raven’s Gift. I couldn’t even begin to list off all of you. The support I have received here at home is overwhelming and completely awe inspiring. I am so lucky to call this place my home, so incredibly lucky. Authors have been overly generous through mentoring me, giving advice, and spreading the word about my book. Again the list is just too long, but I’d be remiss to not thank all the members of the 49 Writers, my buddies Seth Kantner and Kris Farmen, my coach Daniel and his wife Rennie, and my friend and go to warm heart and brilliant writing life advisor Jodi Picoult. I’m so fortunate to have such talented and giving souls in my life, and I’m thankful to each and every one of you!
And to those readers who continue to share the book, who email me with their kind words of appreciation, who post their reviews on Amazon and elsewhere --- I cannot thank you enough, but please know that I am endlessly grateful for your support, your encouragement, and the time and energy you’ve spent reading my work, sharing it, and thinking about the underlying messages contained within the story.
We could simply all be thankful the world hasn’t quite ended just yet, or we could pause for a moment in our busy lives, watch a raven or two, and take stock of what we have, where we’ve been, and those we love. And ---- if you’ve read this far, and weren’t mentioned yet, then for me, you must be one of those I love.
Thank you. Quyana.
Bear Valley, Anchorage Alaska