Stories set in snow

Eowyn Ivey tells us why both her books “Snow Child” and “To The Bright Edge of the World” are based in Alaska

Eowyn Ivey grew up in Alaska, amidst snow and wilderness. When she set out to become a writer, it was like a dream. She spent ten years working as a reporter, but, she says, “Never was it really my passion. Reading novels was my passion. I had grown up in a family that was always reading. So I made the decision to work in a book store. It was really a fortunate decision because I suddenly found myself surrounded by readers, books and ideas and it was very inspiring. It gave me the creative energy at the end of the day.”

Ivey says,”One evening I was shelving books in the childrens’ section when I came across a little paper back with a very simple retelling of a Snegurochka fairy tale for children. I read it standing there and that was really a lightning bolt moment for me. I realised this was the story that was perfect for me to tell in a landscape that I had grown up in, a northern wilderness. And it had the magical quality I was always looking for. So I abandoned a completely different novel that I had been working on for almost five years and began writing the Snow Child and had the first draft in about a year.”

Growing up in snow

The Snow Child is set in the 1920s while To The Bright Edge of the World is set way back in the 1880s. Both in Alaska. “Much of Alaska is really very similar to how it is in the stories that I tell. Large parts of Alaska are still uninhabited. In rural areas like we live in, we live on 20 acre plots.

Cities like Anchorage are very modern cities. By choice we decided to live a life which involved heating with firewood, hunting for salmons, picking blueberries and so it was not a matter of research as I wrote my first novel. I based it on my life and growing up. For the second novel I have done quite a bit of research for I talk of a military expedition along a river I invented, the Wolverine river. The expedition is a true incident that took place along the Copper river. But I created my own space. For this book I had to do a lot of research including floating along Copper river for a week.”

Ivey says, “It is really interesting for me to see how much more interest and fascination with the snow and ice of a place like Alaska. Growing up there I took it for granted but with my books I know that people are interested in knowing how it is to live up there where six months of the year there is ice and snow.

I also think with global warming that large parts of these places may be in danger and become somewhat more precious then and maybe we want to capture that snow and ice while we can.”

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 8:19:26 AM |

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