First time I’ve ever been compared to Elmore Leonard.

Excuse me while I’m over here breathing into a paper bag. And even more important: PW didn’t give anything away, so safe to read.

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Signed hardcover edition

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The History of Kate Shugak in 20 Objects – 8

WARNING: Spoilers spoken here.

Killing Grounds cover

I so wanted it to be the halibut heart because of Megan’s wonderful comment, but the fish wheel came on strong in the end and wiped out the competition. I found lots of video showing fish wheels in action on YouTube.

Fish wheels are common on Alaskan rivers. The fish caught are a primary food source, they’re dog food, they’re sold for the fuel necessary to keep Bush Alaskans warm through the winter. They are subject to wear and tear from the force of the water, chunks of ice during breakup, and deadheads, uprooted trees being pushed downriver, moving fast and hitting hard. (There is also enemy action, as some of you may remember from the Kate Shugak short story, “Cherchez la Femme.”)

The aunties’ problems with the fish hawk are loosely based on the real-life problems of Katie John of Mentasta.

Photo by Erik Hill, Alaska Dispatch News

Photo by Erik Hill, Alaska Dispatch News

The toughest broad in a state of tough broads, Katie John single-handedly wrestled both state and federal governments to the ground in the matter of Alaska Natives fishing on their historic fishing grounds. Man, just writing those words brings a grin to my face. Read her obituary here.


kate21-cover-artThe 21st Kate Shugak novel, coming May 6, 2017.


The History of Kate Shugak in 20 Objects – 7

WARNING: Spoilers spoken here.

Breakup

7 – Golden crowned sparrow

Although you people are killing me here, being all over the map as you are (the 747 engine! the bear! the pickup! the Cat! snow machines!) the most votes are for the sparrow.

golden-crowned-sparrow

We call it the “spring is here” bird, because it is when you first hear the notes of its song. Listen to it here.

It’s my favorite bird, singing the first bird song I ever recognized. Not to sound too precious, but it chose itself to manifest as the voice of Everybody Talks to Her, aka Emaa. I had no idea it would become a leitmotif of the Kate Shugak novels. One of those gifts from the writing gods.

Also, FYI, every single one of the bear stories in Breakup is true. Kate going backwards up the creek bank in full retreat from a pissed-off sow? That would have been my dad.


kate21-cover-artThe 21st Kate Shugak novel, coming May 6, 2017.


 

The History of Kate Shugak in 20 Objects – 1

WARNING: Spoilers spoken here. Continue reading

Aside

“…and enemies, which were legion.”

The Collected Short StoriesThe prosecution had rested the day before with an air of relief. The defense had recalled the investigating officer that morning, extracting without difficulty more evidence over time of many of Washington’s — the defense here coughed deprecatingly — family in the house at McKinley and Alder, as well as evidence of many more sets of smudged and partial prints not belonging to the defendants on the weapon. By the time the defense had excused the officer, opportunity had been extended to fifteen people, or more, if you included Da Prez’s friends, which were few, rivals, which were many, and enemies, which were legion.

—“Siren Song”

 

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