Welcome to DAY 3 of Coffin Hop!
I write Alaskan Gothic. More than just a “setting,” The Great Land is actually a character in my writing. People who have read The Fishing Widow agree that it could not be set anywhere else in the world–and not just because it’s the Sitka Herring Sac Roe Fishery that’s depicted. No matter where I go in my writing, real and imagined Alaskan mythologies and creatures snake their way in to every tale. Add to that a rich and diverse history — we’ve had the Spanish, Russians, Americans through the ages, I’m pretty sure the Basques at one point showed up, and there isn’t enough room on the blog to mention all the Native Alaskan groups and their contributions to Alaskan history — and this place is an endless tale that twists and turns through time….
The one I have in edits now is In Dark Places. Set in an interior Alaskan copper mine not unlike Kennecott, the story follows a crew of miners working South Adit–one of the most remote places on the mining landscape–in the winter of 1913. Bitter cold and darkness sets in and, while there’s an underlying sense of foreboding and uneasiness, the characters (and the reader) are left with a sense of is it real? Is it imagined? Like fishermen, bless their hearts, miners are a superstitious lot. Toss together a multi-national crew (Irish, Swedish, Welsh, mid-Western Americans, Dutch), and each one brings his own stories, his own legends…and, being guys, they talk about it. It was a surprising story to write, because, honestly, I didn’t understand it until I got about three-quarters of the way through. What does that mean? Who are THEY? Whoa, what the hell is THAT? Yeah. Nothing planned, and everything twisty like I like it.
On rare, sunny days on my far-flung island, this is where I like to be best. At this table, looking out over what I imagine San Angelo Island was in The Fishing Widow and writing. Of course, howlingly-bad, windy, rain-swept, cold days are nice, too. And for In Dark Places, I’m at the disadvantage of trying to REMEMBER what -40°F feels like. I mean, I remember, but I want to be able to convey it (especially the sticky eyeball part). Then again, that’s what edits really ARE for ….
Ready? This one is all sorts of cool-io. Since I’m talking Alaskan and there’s this little thing I wrote for Coffin Hop called “Salmon In The Trees,” I figure this is the perfect day to have that as a prize. But, wait! There’s MORE! Because I ripped off the title (shamelessly, but, hey, titles aren’t subject to copyright!) from Ray Troll and Amy Gulick’s book about how salmon are important to rainforest ecologym, I feel this overwhelming urge to somehow make amends… so, in addition to the COFFIN HOP DEATH BY DRIVE-IN COLLECTOR’S EP, I’m offering these two goodies to go with ’em … Ready?
The first is a t-shirt from Ray Troll’s Soho Coho shop in Ketchikan (you get the pick the size):
The SECOND thing is an enameled pin with a sentiment near and dear to all our hearts (I reckon):
What do you have to do? Well, hmmm…. how ’bout leave a comment about WHERE you like to write and WHY. Random.org (which, by the way, is administered out of Trinity College Dublin where I’ll be on Tuesday! Yay!) will pick the winner, um, RANDOMLY from the comments! Spread the word, and Happy Hoppin’!