Coffin Hop Day 3 …. Horror Alaskan Style!

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. (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’!


11 Replies to “Coffin Hop Day 3 …. Horror Alaskan Style!”

  1. I love that you draw on the local mythologies and make your stories inseparable from their setting. I am intrigued.

    I like to write in coffee shops. They need to be busy enough to create white noise, or else I need a table far away from the nearest conversation (or I’ll eavesdrop and not get work done). I can’t work at home because home is full of all the other things I “should” be doing. Sigh.

  2. I, like you, set my stories in the state I live in–in my case, South Carolina. Every once in a while I will change the setting to the North Carolina mountains since we spent a lot of time there with my dad.

    For me, my stories generally have a southern flavor to them, so it is just natural for me to choose my home state to write in. There are three fictional towns I use for the most part and I like that I can have stories cross over into each other by having them all set close to each other. Besides, if I tried to write about somewhere else i would just be BSing myself, along with the readers.

  3. I like to write on the subway. Because it’s away from daylight, and I can’t stare at people otherwise they’ll beat me up. All I have to distract me on my commute is my phone. So I write. I relentlessly write until I exit the subway station, but then I’m into the writing process so I even write on the street.

    Yes, I’m one of those people you swear you don’t want to run into because they’re not looking where they’re walking. 😉

  4. I normally write at my desk, just because I’ve been so insanely busy lately that I don’t have the time to move all my stuff anywhere else! But… there was this one spot in Kingston, before I moved. Right on Lake Ontario, this little secluded spot carved out from the rock by the water, and sitting in there, you’d never know you were sitting in a busy park area, never mind in a city… there was just the water and the shore over on the other side and the constant waves.

    Yeah, I liked sitting to write there. Haven’t found a spot in Guelph yet. I’ll get there… ^__^

  5. I like to write out on my patio by the pool. I find it very relaxing as I watch what goes on in my own backyard.

  6. Alaskan Gothic — I like it. My settings vary, but they’re usually centered in Southern California where I live, just in the distant past or distant future. And when I’m actually penning, I like to sit on the floor. I know. I’m weird.

    milojamesfowler at gmail

  7. Love the prizes offered!

    I like to write in my home because I love my home. I fancy leaving it, sometimes, to write in a coffee shop like Starbucks or somewhere, but I never do. I’d rather just work in my office or in my comfy lounge chair.

    joliedupre (at) gmail (dot) com

  8. I enjoy writing anywhere there is a view, and that is an important aspect in choosing where to put my solid-as-anything, heavy-as-anything wooden desk that’s painted a rather ugly Army green. At the moment, my desk resides in the sun room of my house. It faces the West, and the setting Autumn sun has just stopped glaring through the leaves of the live oak just beyond my patio. In the morning, I can often see the moon, but even when I can’t see her, I can see the reflections of my desk lamp and my own pale face shrouded by bedhead hair in all of the windows: West, North and South. I look a bit scary. It is a good thing for a horror writer!


    PS – I think it has been since last year’s hop since I visited! I hope all has been well.

  9. Wishing you a Happy Halloween from the Halloween Blog Hop!

    Hmmm, I love the sound of “Alaskan Gothic”. I think a lot of Americans (those of us on the “mainland”) don’t really know a lot about Alaska. You’ve certainly chosen an interesting setting for your tales. And your description of “In Dark Places” has me intrigued!

    I don’t have a favorite place to write. The Muse is a flighty lady and I do my best to accommodate wherever or whenever (generally 3:00 a.m.). 🙂

  10. I write on the move. Yesterday I was editing at the stove top while frying an egg with the other hand, and holding a baby on my hip. Such is life.

  11. I write at my dining table, not because I want to, but because that’s the only table in my house. If my stories don’t have an explicit setting (Toronto, for me) then they’re all loosely based on Toronto, but I try to make them as ambiguous as possible so that every reader can identify with the setting.

    Happy Halloween!

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