A Distant Enemy: A Novel of Alaska

 

In this remote corner of Alaska, survival’s no game. On the vast, wind-blown tundra, a simple mistake can mean death. But as the old ways slip away, anger pushes fourteen-year-old Joseph into a series of confrontations that pit him against an unforgiving wilderness.

 


 

“A gripping story…Joseph’s emotional turbulence in the face of assaults from the outside world makes for a gripping story; Vanasse provides powerful commentary on the conflict of cultures as well as an inspiring story of a turning point in a young boy’s life.” ~Kirkus Reviews

“Vanasse is right on target in her depiction of existence in a contemporary Alaskan village and her descriptions of the tundra are lovingly drawn.” ~School Library Journal

“Vanasse creates a vivid portrait of modern Eskimo lifestyles, conflicts and fears while rendering a sensitive account of one teenager’s coming of age.” ~Publisher’s Weekly

 

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INSPIRED BY ALASKA

Author Deb VanasseAt age twenty-one, Deb Vanasse was dropped by a bush pilot on a gravel runway in middle of the Alaska wilderness. No roads, no houses, no cars, no people—only a winding brown slough and tundra spread flat as prairie. She had come not for adventure but to live, an isolating but evocative experience that has inspired much of her work, including her books about writing.


Between her mountain home and a glacier-based cabin, she continues to enjoy Alaska’s wild places.

Don’t tell…but Vanasse was raised in a mental institute.

Author Deb Vanassee at Denali

Author Deb Vanassee at Denali

Her family lived on the grounds of the state mental institution where her dad worked. The staff consisted mostly of foreign doctors, so she grew up with children from around the world, always in the shadow of the sprawling hospital and patients who walked the grounds, each more or less in his own little world. Deb lived in her own little world much of the time too. Her favorite hangout was a shed attached to her family’s barracks-style cement block house, where she’d spend hours reading and imagining story worlds.

The Confessional

We asked & our authors answered…


Deb has been known to…buy way more books than she’ll ever read

Things Deb likes…chocolate, good books, an occasional movie, a good hot shower after a few days of camping, warm flannel sheets, wide open spaces, soft falling snow, her friends

She’ll never get caught…skydiving; she so doesn’t like heights

A favorite/line expression and where it’s from:  “There’s a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen

Alaskans she most admires: Peggy Shumaker, Elizabeth Peratrovich, DeeDee Jonrowe

Favorite Alaska places: Matanuska Glacier, Kennicott Mine, the Pribilofs

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Book & Author

Author Deb VanasseAt age twenty-one, Deb Vanasse was dropped by a bush pilot on a gravel runway in middle of the Alaska wilderness. No roads, no houses, no cars, no people—only a winding brown slough and tundra spread flat as prairie. She had come not for adventure but to live, an isolating but evocative experience that inspires much of her work.

Survival is as much about mental strength as physical, as one young man, already struggling with cultural clashes in his small village, discovers facing life, death, and change.

Sneaky Peek

Quickly, he told himself. The meeting could have ended; the troopers could be on the boardwalk, heading back to the airport now. Pulling his jackknife from his pocket, he made three sharp, deep slashes in each airplane tire, starting with the two under the wings, then moving to the single tire beneath the tail.

Joseph walked back toward the front of the aircraft. It appeared unchanged. Eager to see results, Joseph pushed with the weight of his whole body on the fender of the right front tire. It gave way under his weight, and the plane resettled lopsidedly, its right wing dipping toward the runway.

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