Living Alaskan

You’re from Alaska? There’s an upside and a downside to the question, as anyone who has lived here for any length of time will attest. Here, featured author Dana Stabenow weighs in on both.

For years I tried to get an agent because “everybody” told me that the way the publishing game worked was you got an agent who then got you a publisher.

“Everybody” didn’t tell me that if you’re trying to get an agent from Alaska, the difficulty compounds geometrically, like interest owed to a loan shark. My manuscripts returned regularly like little homing pigeons accompanied by letters which read, “Alaska? Where is that?” and “Alaska? Is that, like, you know, a state?” My favorite letter came from an agent who said, “Your manuscript is wonderful and I would love to represent you. Unfortunately, I only represent American authors.”

It’s funny now. It wasn’t then. I wound up getting a publisher first and an agent after, but the, let’s say the distinction of coming from Alaska continues to present me with interesting experiences. Like on the book tour when I went into Oregon Public Radio and the host greeted me with a bellowed, “WELL I SEE SUSAN BUTCHER JUST KILLED ANOTHER DOG!” This guy, who I caught on right away was an animal rights activist, carried on and on about how HE owned dogs and HE didn’t kill any of them and how the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race was an ABOMINATION and a DISGRACE and anyone who condoned it was a MURDERER.

Of course, today I’m looking back on these episodes with a certain amount of nostalgia. After last year’s election, everybody knows we’re a state. I can’t fake being from Canada any more, which I used to do whenever I met someone overseas who was pissed off at the U.S. (when aren’t they). I confess their own ignorance helped. “Alaska,” they’d say, “isn’t that up next to Canada?” “You bet,” I’d say. “Canada,” they’d say, “you’re all right.” “You bet,” I’d say.

No longer an option. Governor Palin has a lot to answer for.

5 thoughts on “Living Alaskan”

  1. Andromeda Romano-Lax

    Ah, those were the days. Thrilled to have you posting here and can't wait to read your next one, Dana.

  2. if they didnt know where alaska is you sure as hell didnt need them!
    i follow the Iditarod via tv even though its kind of hard in virginia.
    i think dogs are competive just like people so you get killed while having fun. better than being bored to death!
    thats just my opinion

  3. I used to get robo-posts from the Sled Dog Action Committee every time I posted about mushing. Do you know where the Sled Dog Action Committee is headquartered?

    Wait for it…


    Finally I wrote them a special post of their very own, suggesting that they stick to trying to save the manatees and leave the sled dogs alone.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top