Bring Your A-Game: Moderating a Panel of Popular Alaskan Authors, a guest post by Don Rearden

Note time change to 1:00 pm, Saturday, February 9.

When you are a “popular” Alaskan author you often get
invitations to sit in front of people and talk ad nauseum, or so you’ve heard
from your popular Alaskan author friends.

You’ve spent most of your time in the audience, and from
that perspective, author panels can, at times, seem about as interesting and
original as wood paneling. You know the kind your mother-in-law had in her
family room, straight out of the sixties, and subsequently white-washed to hide
the faux grains and the fact that it is still a room encased in wood paneling
accented with an old German cuckoo clock.
But what if you were asked to moderate a panel of three
extraordinary Alaskan authors you admired and respected? Say, one was the guy
who wrote your favorite Alaskan novel? The other was your former non-fiction
professor, her essays you turn to time and time again, and the same person who
insisted you read the book that  would ultimately become your
favorite Alaskan novel written by that one guy on the panel. And the third
writer? Well, she just happened to write a best-selling novel that has taken
the world like some sort of killer Snowzilla, except a small, cute, loveable
Snowzilla that kills only by melting hearts.
Suddenly the offer doesn’t have that wood panel feel. Now
it’s looking more like one of those so-called death panels. The panelists and
audience would be looking at you and examining you and then ultimately deciding
whether you needed to just go the way of wood paneling. Especially if you said
or asked the wrong thing.
As much as you’d want a shot at moderating such a panel, you’d
be intimidated. These are the literati of Alaska.
A Chinook Literary Award Winner. A Whiteby Award Winner. An
Every-International-Book-Award-Ever-Given Winner.
And you? You’re hardly qualified to sit anywhere near the
panel. For one, your own book is harder to buy in the United
than a Cuban cigar (at least until June 25th.).  And besides, with a title like “Writing Your Place,”
how are you supposed to ask the question everyone wants to know at these sort
of events: Will you blurb my latest manuscript? Or how do I get an agent,
specifically your agent? Will you ghostwrite my next book and make it a
Then before you’ve even really thought the whole thing
through you’ve accepted the offer and ultimately realize you’re moderating this
panel and you’d better bring your “A-game,” and sadly you have no idea what an
A-game is! Maybe you’ll call Sherry Simpson, the best author panel moderator
you’ve seen, and ask her for advice. Oh wait. She’s one of the panelists! Perhaps
an email to Eowyn Ivey – she should have some great ideas with all her
experiences fresh off world book tours. Whoops! Can’t do that. She’s on the
panel, too! Now you’re in big trouble. The only hope is to call in sick. Or
better yet say you’re out on the tundra hunting with Seth Kantner, got
weathered in and won’t make it back to Anchorage in time for the … and then it
hits you. Kantner is on the damn panel, too!
You are sunk.
What have you gotten yourself into?
Come find out Saturday, February 9th at 1:00 pm at the first floor conference room of
the Loussac Library. “Writing your Place” will be a non-wooden, non-death
panel consisting of, as some advertisements are calling it, “popular” Alaskan
authors: Seth Kantner, Eown Ivey, and Sherry Simpson.  And some other
dude, who had better bring his A-game. 
wrote the best-selling self-help book Bring Your A-Game: Moderating a Panel of
Popular Alaskan Authors
, and the NY Times non-fiction hit: How I Saved the Accidental Explorer’s Snow
Child from a Pack of Ordinary Wolves

3 thoughts on “Bring Your A-Game: Moderating a Panel of Popular Alaskan Authors, a guest post by Don Rearden”

  1. Hi Don–last weekend I saw a copy of your book for sale at the Muldoon Walgreens.

    Looking forward to the panel.

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