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Deb: Life into Story

49 Writers - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 7:00am


Whenever I hear the latest update on the ebola outbreak, I think of Don Rearden. I can’t help it. In his novel The Raven’s Gift, he wrote about the devastation brought on by a deadly disease that spins out of control. Sure, his book is fiction, and at that time he wrote it, he was thinking bird flu, but the parallels between fact and fiction are a little uncanny.
On a less dramatic scale, I’ve seen a similar tension between fact and fiction play out involving a plot point in my first novel A Distant Enemy. Nearly two decades ago, I wrote a set-up that involved intentional fishing during an emergency closure in Southwest Alaska. In the last few years, a similar scenario had played out in a very real conflict over changes in salmon harvest more drastic than any I’d dared to imagine. Arrests and court battles followed. Decisions were reached, but the battle is far from over.
It would be nice to think that when it comes to such things, we authors are smart and savvy and maybe even a little prophetic (oh lottery numbers, please make yourselves known!). But really, the whole thing boils down to this: in fiction, our material is life as it’s lived and known and hidden and dreamed.
Not that our task is easy. Our own lives infuse our work with power even as “real life” gets in the way. We face hard choices about what constitutes truth. And sometimes what we think we know is only a smattering of what’s required of us to get it right on the page, which means research—lots of it, even for stories.

As author Peggy Shumaker so aptly puts it, "the whole truth is never available to us." And yet somehow in our work, we wrestle with the facts of who we are - the things we can face and the truths we aren't ready for yet. The unknown always feels bigger than the known.

Then there are the practical matters of whose stories we tell and what right we have to give voice to anyone, along with the fine points of perspective and the tension between getting the facts right (whatever form "right" may take) and staying true to the narrative as well as the extent to which we live the facts of our work as opposed to drawing on the experiences of others.
The intersection of fact and fiction makes for great conversation among writers. Tomorrow we’re headed to Soldotna to share that discussion with local readers, writers, and seekers, along with the just plain curious. One and all, you’re invited to “Fact and Fiction: Life into Story,” a reading and book talk hosted by the Kenai Peninsula College Showcase Series in conjunction with 49 Writers.

And wait, there’s more: Don and I couldn’t be happier to announce that Seth Kantner (Ordinary Wolves, Pup and Pokey, Shopping for Porcupine) will be joining us for this lively discussion. We hope you’ll be there too: 7 pm, at KPC’s McLain Commons. Admission is free, with book sales and signing to follow. The next day, Don and I will be teaching workshops on character and point of view. For the workshops, preregistration is required; head on over to the 49 Writers website to get all the scoop.
Co-founder of 49 Writers and founder of the independent authors cooperative Running Fox Books, Deb Vanasse has authored more than a dozen books. Her most recent is Cold Spell, a novel that “captures the harsh beauty of the terrain as well as the strain of self-doubt and complicated family bonds,” according to Booklist. Deb lives and works on Hiland Mountain outside of Anchorage, Alaska, and at a cabin near the Matanuska Glacier. Portions of this post have been published previously.
Would you like to write a guest post relevant to Alaska’s literary community? Email 49writers (at) gmail.com or debvanasse (at) gmail.com.
Categories: Arts & Culture

US military aircraft arrive in Liberia

AP Top news - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 6:30am
US military aircraft arrive in Liberia Associated Press - 9 October 2014 10:11-04:00 News Topics: Health, Ebola virus, Disease outbreaks, Military healthcare, Emergency management, Hemorrhagic fever, Infectious diseases, Diseases and conditions, General news, Public health, Military affairs, Military and defense, Government and politics People, Places and Companies: Ernest Bai Koroma, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Liberia, Monrovia, West Africa, Madrid, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Spain, Germany Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Modiano wins Nobel for works about Nazi occupation

AP Top news - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 6:30am
Modiano wins Nobel for works about Nazi occupation Associated Press - 9 October 2014 10:03-04:00 News Topics: Arts and entertainment, Books and literature, Literary awards, Nobel Prizes, Mystery fiction, Science, Gambling, Entertainment, Literary events, Events, Fiction, Recreation and leisure, Lifestyle People, Places and Companies: Louis Malle, Peter Englund, Francois Hollande, David Williams, Haruki Murakami, Alice Munro, Mo Yan, Elfriede Jelinek, France, Sweden, Paris, Europe, Stockholm Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

1st Gaza meeting of Palestinian unity Cabinet

AP Top news - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 6:30am
1st Gaza meeting of Palestinian unity Cabinet Associated Press - 9 October 2014 09:53-04:00 News Topics: General news, Territorial disputes, Municipal governments, Cabinets, Government and politics, War and unrest, Local governments People, Places and Companies: Mahmoud Abbas, Ismail Haniyeh, Palestinian territories, West Bank, Israel, Gaza Strip, Middle East, Gaza Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Clashes break out in C. African Republic capital

AP Top news - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 6:30am
Clashes break out in C. African Republic capital Associated Press - 9 October 2014 09:33-04:00 News Topics: General news, Violence, War and unrest, Social issues, Social affairs People, Places and Companies: Africa, Central African Republic, Bangui Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Hong Kong government cancels talks with protesters

AP Top news - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 6:30am
Hong Kong government cancels talks with protesters Associated Press - 9 October 2014 09:25-04:00 News Topics: General news, Protests and demonstrations, Government and politics, Democracy, Political and civil unrest People, Places and Companies: Hong Kong, China, Beijing Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Indian man pedals cycle rickshaw to Himalayan pass

AP Top news - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 6:30am
Indian man pedals cycle rickshaw to Himalayan pass Associated Press - 9 October 2014 07:35-04:00 News Topics: General news People, Places and Companies: India, Kolkata Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Superintendent speaks out about student privacy rights

Juneau School District Announcements - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 2:40pm

Supe's On  - Welcome to the Superintendent's Blog

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Categories: Arts & Culture

School District Report on Investigation into Hazing

Juneau School District Announcements - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 4:35pm

The Juneau School District has concluded our investigation into allegations that on or about May 30-31 of this year a group of incoming senior boys hazed/initiated a group of incoming freshmen boys by paddling them multiple times.

These events were first brought to our attention in early June. At that time the district began an initial investigation, which, due to an active police investigation and summer vacation, was put on hold. When we were informed that the police had concluded their investigation we resumed our efforts.

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Categories: Arts & Culture

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