Sunday, May 13, 2007

Carol wrote to say,

"Hi there, I'm now almost through the Northern Lights series. I was surprised to read you have Aleut ancestry and figure you use some of the old stories as a basis of what your ancestors lives were like.

You're right, Carol. I've written seven novels that take place in Alaska and each book contains information and insights from my Aleut ancestors. I've logged hours and hours of research. A lot of that time was spent looking into Alaskan culture, history, geography, etc. but many of the scenes in my books are taken directly from family stories.

I especially loved doing personal interviews. A lot of them were with family members(especially my mom) but I also talked to lots of other folks who are presently living in Alaska or have lived there.

Each new project felt like a treasure hunt. I found gold! I discovered some exceptional stories and special people in my family, real Alaskan Sourdoughs. It's been great fun writing about real places in history and real people who were willing to risk everything to fulfill dreams.

When I started writing about Alaska I'd counted on having fun and making new discoveries, but I hadn't planned on unearthing my heritage. I remember feeling wonderment when I got the first glimpse of me--where I came from. How exceptional it was to "feel" native.

I'd always known Aleut blood ran in my veins, but I never felt a connection. I grew up in the state of Washington far from my ancestral roots and I just never really got it. Writing about Alaska and its people turned out to be an unexpected gift. I'm grateful for the experience.

As a young woman, my mother left her family in Alaska and moved to Seattle. Her memories of growing up there are sweet ones and she loves to share them. I have hours and hours of tape recorded stories. My brother, Bruce, lives in Cordova. He's an adventurer and so many of his stories have contributed to mine. I just hope he lives through his next adventure. :-) I pray for him a lot.

Everyone's family histories are important. If you've not looked into yours please do--you may be surprised and pleased. So much of who we are comes from who we were and where we came from.

There's treasure to be found.

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