INSPIRED BY ALASKA
At 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.
Co-founder of 49 Writers and founder of the independent authors cooperative Running Fox Books, Deb Vanasse has authored sixteen books. Her most recent are Write Your Best Book, a practical guide to writing books that rise above the rest; What Every Author Should Know, a comprehensive guide to book publishing and promotion; and 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 as freelance editor and coach on Hiland Mountain outside of Anchorage, Alaska, and at a cabin near the Matanuska Glacier.
Don’t tell…but Vanasse was raised in a mental institute.
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.
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 You Most Admire: Peggy Shumaker, Elizabeth Peratrovich, DeeDee Jonrowe
Favorite Alaska places: Matanuska Glacier, Kennicott Mine, the Pribilofs
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Inspired by her own experience arriving by bush plane to live on the Alaska tundra, Deb Vanasse vividly captures the reality of life in Alaska and the emotional impact of loving a remote and unforgiving land.
From the moment Ruth Sanders rips a glossy photo of a glacier from a magazine, she believes her fate is intertwined with the ice. Her unsettling fascination bewilders her daughter, sixteen-year-old Sylvie, still shaken by her father’s leaving. When Ruth uproots Sylvie and her sister from their small Midwestern town to follow her growing obsessionand a manto Alaska, they soon find themselves entangled with an unfamiliar wilderness, a divided community, and one another. As passions cross and braid, the bond between mother and daughter threatens to erode from the pressures of icy compulsion and exposed secrets.
She beat at the ice, stubborn with the hope that anger could, by some alchemy of pressure and cold, be transformed into freedom. Her legs grew tired and her shoulders burned and her arms ached and her fingers turned numb from the cold, and still she kept chopping and hacking. “See,” Kenny said as he shoved ice in the cooler. “You could do this all day and not make a dent.”
When the cooler was full, she handed the chisel to Kenny and tipped her face to the wind as a pair of ravens rode a thermal, warm air colliding with cold. Kenny set his hands on her shoulders and rubbed where it hurt. She stiffened, shutting out the smell of brushed cotton, the prickle of beard, his fingers teasing her lips. She’d find some way to tell him. Not now, but soon.