Because books aren’t just for reading, the Crosscurrents onstage conversations unite authors and audiences through lively, moderated discussions on questions pertaining to art, culture, and science as illuminated by writers and their work. Our thanks go to the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Anchorage Public Library, and the Copper Whale Inn, whose support makes this series possible.
ANDY HALL and DAVID STEVENSON with PETER PORCO
Andy Hall (Denali's Howl) joins David Stevenson (Letters from Chamonix) for an onstage conversation about the their processes of creating an engaging narrative in prose. What are the unique affordances and challenges of each genre, and where can writers learn from the strategies employed in other genres?
David Stevensonis the long-time book review editor of The American Alpine Journal. His collection of fiction, Letters from Chamonix, won the Banff Mountain Book Award for Fiction and Poetry in 2014. He directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Alaska Anchorage. (Photo in Pictures)
Andy Hall, a lifelong Alaskan, is the author Denali’s Howl, The Deadliest Climbing Disaster on America's Wildest Peak, a non-fiction account of the tragic 1967 Wilcox Expedition. He lived in Mount McKinley National Park as a child; his father was superintendent there when the accident occurred. Andy has enjoyed a long career in Alaska as writer and editor, working at several small newspapers and for 16 years as editor and publisher of Alaska magazine and general manager of The Milepost. In addition writing, he is a commercial salmon fisherman in Cook Inlet and a ski coach at Chugiak High School. He lives in Chugiak Alaska with his wife, Melissa DeVaughn, and their two children, Roan and Reilly.
PAST CROSSCURRENTS EVENTS
BETH HILL, JOAN KANE, SETH KANTNER, PEGGY SHUMAKER & DEB VANASSE
Luis Urrea talks about how "the border" has defined his life and colored much of his writing. He once said "the border is simply a metapor that makes it easier for me to write about the things that separate people all over the world, even when they think there is no fence."
SHERRY SIMPSON and CHRISTINE BYL
Alaska is a complex state whose people and landscapes are rife with nuance. But writing about Alaska is full of potential pitfalls; we've all read the cliches, the simplifications, the overused tropes. Join accomplished essayist Sherry Simpson in conversation with Christine Byl as they discuss what's beyond the known perimeter of our initial hunches about place, wildness, animals, and how we make our selves on the page and in the world.
CAMILLE T. DUNGY and SEAN HILL
Poets Camille Dungy and Sean Hill discuss what it means to them to write about family, history, community, and the natural world.
MARTHA AMORE, KRIS FARMEN, and BUFFY McKAY
Alaskan writers Martha Amore, Kris Farmen, and Buffy McKay come together to talk about how they worked as a team to create the novella collection Weathered Edge, each contributing a distinct voice and unique perspective to the creative process. Vered Mares will moderate the discussion of what worked and what didn't, and why.
RON CARLSON and DON REARDEN
Where do stories come from? How does a writer find and survive a story? Join acclaimed novelist and short story writer Ron Carlson (Return to Oakpine, the Signal) and Alaska author Don Rearden (The Raven's Gift) for a stimulating onstage conversation about the process of discovery in writing fiction.
NANCY ZAFRIS and FRANK SOOS
To what can we attribute the resurgence of interest in the short story, for so long considered to be a "minor form?" Is this a fleeting trend or a real sea change on the literary scene? In this, the 30th Anniversary year of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, we bring together Nancy Zafris, series editor of the Award and a 1990 winner, and 1998 Award Winner Frank Soos to discuss how the short story is faring in our hyper-connected world.
NORA MARKS DAUENHAUER and DIANE BENSON
Alaska's new Writer Laureate, Nora Marks Dauenhauer, joins writer and dramatist Diane Benson for an on-stage conversation that ranges from writing across genres, to Alaska Native women writers, to preserving the oral tradition.
PAM HOUSTON and HEATHER LENDE
It's a 49 Writers tradition that our visiting Tutka Bay Writers Retreat leader also participates in a Crosscurrents event beforehand. This year we are partnering with the Anchorage Public Library and Friends of the Library to bring you an onstage conversation between retreat leader Pam Houston and Alaska writer Heather Lende. When the constraints of nonfiction hamper a good story from our lives, fiction provides a liberating alternative that allows the writer to dramatize and embellish experiences and landscapes, and to protect the identities of characters. But can this approach confuse our contract with the reader, especially when we also write memoir?
STEVE ALMOND and DAVID STEVENSON
Do writers living in an era of cruelty come to their work with a deeper duty? If so, what is the nature of that duty? How should writers engage in the moral struggles of our historical moment, and what risks does such an engagement engender? Join nationally acclaimed author Steve Almond in conversation with local writer David Stevenson, director of UAA's Creative Writing & Literary Arts program, in this 49 Writers Crosscurrents event.
EOWYN IVEY AND ANDROMEDA ROMANO-LAX
Debut author Eowyn Ivey (The Snow Child) joins Andromeda Romano-Lax (The Spanish Bow, The Detour) for an onstage conversation about their internationally published novels and their approach to fiction as Alaskan writers. What draw one author to set her fiction in Alaska, while another chooses historic Europe as her backdrop? Which comes first - story or genre, setting or character? How can an imaginary story set decades ago hold up a mirror to the present? Where do fact and fiction meet, and what role does research play? Romano-Lax's novels have been described as "evocative and lyrical," "vivid and heartbreaking," while Ivey's The Snow Child has been dubbed "an enchanting, transporting tale" and "a remarkable accomplishment."
MELINDA MOUSTAKIS AND FRANK SOOS
In what ways is fiction both timeless and changing? In the age of information, do stories still matter? To what extent is Alaskafiction coming into its own? As part of AlaskaBook Week (Oct. 8-15), join Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction winners Melinda Moustakis (Bear Down Bear North) and Frank Soos (Unified Field Theory, Early Yet) for an onstage conversation about the status and future of fiction both in Alaska and beyond.
Best-selling author Dani Shapiro (Devotion, Black and White, Slow Motion) joins Sherry Simpson (The Accidental Explorer, The Way Winter Comes) for an onstage conversation about the truths and misconceptions that surround memoir writing. Can a rich, dramatic story be paralyzing in its telling? If the writer leaves something out, is she being evasive? What is the writer’s responsibility in truth and fact versus memory?Simpson will moderate this lively discussion with reference to Shapiro’s work, including her recent memoir Devotion, a national bestseller and Today Show “Best Winter Book,” described by Publisher’s Weekly as “absorbing, intimate, direct and profound.” Co-sponsored by the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Bookstore and the Copper Whale Inn.
Nationally-acclaimed author and frequent New Yorker contributor Susan Orlean joined Alaska journalist Julia O’Malley for an onstage conversation about people, place, and truth in writing. How does one capture the extraordinary within the ordinary? Which places make the best stories? In what sense are all stories journeys? O’Malley moderated this lively discussion with reference to Orlean’s books The Orchid Thief, The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup, and My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who’s Been Everywhere. A question and answer session and book-signing followed. Co-sponsored by the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Bookstore, the Alaska Travel Industry Association, and the Copper Whale Inn.
NANCY LORD, MARYBETH HOLLEMAN, and CHARLES WOHLFORTH
Join Alaska writers Nancy Lord, Marybeth Holleman, and moderator Charles Wohlforth as they discuss environmental writing, writing as a form of activism, and their experiences as writers concerned with global oil-reliance and climate change. Event is free to members, $5 suggested donation for others. This event is co-sponsored by Cook Inletkeeper, the Alaska Center for the Environment, and Prince William Sound Science Center, with books for purchase at the event provided by the UAA Bookstore.
Thank you to the Anchorage Museum