Thursday, October 04, 2007

Adventures in Alaska

Vicki Here

I haven’t written for a couple of weeks because I’ve been on the road, yet again. I’m writing this sitting at the Juneau airport. Juneau is a beautiful city in a fantastic location. Its airport is not. I’m heading back to Anchorage for the last in my authors-in-the-schools school, and then to pick up the car and head off into the wild once again.

I drove north – way north – from Nelson. Through B.C. to the Yukon and then to Alaska. Destination: Anchorage for Bouchercon.

What a great conference it was. It was particularly special for those of us published by Poisoned Pen Press as the fan guest of honour was our editor, Barbara Peters. Barbara and her husband, Rob Rosenwald, Publisher of Poisoned Pen, closed the bookstore and the press and brought 22 people up from Arizona. On the Friday night, Poisoned Pen hosted a big party at which they launched Charles’ new one, Noble Lies, The Drop Edge of Yonder, by Donis Casey and my own In the Shadow of the Glacier. It was a great party, good food, great music, and lots of wonderful people.

After the conference I was lucky enough to be part of the Authors in the Schools programme. I was sent to Juneau, where I gave several talks on the writing process (as it works for me, anyway) and a workshop on writing dialogue at Juneau Douglas High School. The librarian, Barb, and her husband, Ron, were kind enough to host me in their home, show me a bit of the town, and get me to and from the airport. Then on to Tenakee Springs (population 80).

Tenakee is a great little town. There is no road, thus no cars. You can only get there by boat or float plane, as I did. Every house has a fabulous view of the inlet and the surrounding mountains (when the clouds clear), and whales frolic in the bay. Really - I saw some. There are ten children in the school, from grade one to grade ten. And that is certainly a different learning environment than I’ve ever been exposed to. But from the little that I saw, I’d say it works extremely well. The little kids learn from the big kids and the big kids learn valuable lessons in accommodating others and in caring for and getting along with smaller, more vulnerable people.

I met many members of the community as well. Adults came to my dialogue workshop given at the school, and the library put on an evening reception at which I was the guest of honour.

I felt sort of like Oprah must have when she visited Alert Bay this past summer.

My host in Tenakee was Liza, justifiably famous throughout town for the quality of her cooking. Ann at the school, and Leba, and everyone made me most welcome. It was very foggy this morning, and there was some doubt as to if the plane would be able to get in. But it cleared up around noon. I was almost hoping that I’d get another day in lovely Tenakee.

At a meeting of the authors visiting the schools, we were advised that it was polite to eat everything offered. I myself was forced to consume several glasses of Australian Shiraz. Just to be neighbourly, you understand.

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