What is the working title of the book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
The compost heap of my subconscious, I suppose. More specifically, the idea was born the moment I stepped off of a Beaver bush plane into the peculiar, unforgettable light of an arctic summer. For two weeks I rafted down the Canning River in northern Alaska. We watched foxes, owls, bears, and even saw a wolf make its way across the vast tundralands. By the end of the trip I had no words to express the way that landscape had changed me, and I took that as a writerly challenge. At that point, even though I had not yet developed the story elements that would become The Gyre, I knew I would write a book whose heart is in the far north. I wrote a little bit about that trip to Alaska here and here.
What genre does your book fall under?
Literary fiction set in a version of the past (which is not really past).
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Hmm, I’m going to skip this one. I don’t want to provide a replacement for the wonderful work of a reader’s imagination at play with a writer’s intention.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Three wildly different people ride their ambition (both worldly and spiritual) north to Spitsbergen, where they become sun crazed in summer, enchanted by the aurora in winter, and altogether enmeshed by the strange layers of folklore present even in the most remote, arctic archipelago.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
About three years.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I am motivated by a desire to contribute to a literature of the arctic that does not center around themes of exploration.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
There’s an ax fight!
Also, I made a video about The Gyre as part of a Kickstarter fundraising campaign to raise money for an amazing research and writing residency I’ll be doing this summer. Check it out!
You can contribute to the project here.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Hopefully represented by my current agent.
My tagged writers for next week
The wonderful poet Caroline Goodwin, who also looks northward — to Alaska — in some of her work.