Katey Schultz: Why Alaska?

This brief video is something I’ve
used on my Flashes of War book tour to illustrate how stories often
began for me, as a civilian writer writing about American military and civilian
characters in the Middle East. At first, many folks were skeptical about how I
did what I did, let alone why I did it or what place I had writing about this
subject. Later, in reviews,
and literary critics

received the work well. I’ve been very grateful to feel understood and to let
the stories in the book speak for themselves. 

I’m excited to present in
Anchorage coming up at 7 pm on Thursday, March 6th for the 49 Writers Reading & Craft Talk Series at Great Harvest Bread Company. I’ll be
discussing some of these techniques for writing the book, along with the
parallels I found between my creative process and the inspiring Alaskan
landscape. I wrote over half of the book during various trips to Alaska, and
completed final revisions of the entire manuscript in Sitka while in residence
Island Institute

By combining research and
imagination, I was able to ground myself in enough facts to feel certain my
fiction was believable and realistic. This freed me to imagine characters,
images, and scenarios that were fictionalized across what felt to me like a very
real (and often literally mappable and locatable) landscape. Sometimes, it was
simply the power of a profound image that stopped me in my tracks and raised so
many questions (What would it feel like to hand out bottles of water to thirsty
children and know it would never be enough? How do soldiers go to the bathroom
in the middle of a combat zone?) I simply had to imagine my way toward a
narrative answer. Story is how I make sense of the world, after all, and there
were a lot of things about the wars that didn’t make sense to me. I had to
write my way toward stories I could believe in until I was satisfied. Other
times, I’d stumble across a quote that haunted me (“Since my brother was
killed, I cannot taste my tea. Since my brother was killed, I cannot taste
anything.” Or, “America’s not at war; America’s at the mall.”)
and eventually I’d create a character who embodied a hybrid of some of those
emotions I felt coming from that quote.

For a sample, enjoy this radio
feature with Alaska’s favorite radio celebrity, Camille Conte.
Ten minutes into Hour 2 of the show, Camille discusses my
love for Alaska and inspiration for the work, as well as details about my
upcoming trip graciously sponsored by 49 Writers.

2 thoughts on “Katey Schultz: Why Alaska?”

  1. Andromeda Romano-Lax

    Great video montage, Katey. I so enjoyed your first Great Harvest talk, which I still think about, and I'm sorry to miss this next one. Those of you haven't seen Katey lecture on this fascinating topic, go!

  2. Thanks, Andromeda! I missed seeing you in Seattle and Anchorage but you are off with adventures of your own! I can't wait to sit down someday when we're both not at a public event and have some coffee and a long talk. Enjoy yourself out there!

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