It’s been a year since I first began this blog after I received my first publishing contract.
The journey has been an amazing one and I feel I’ve learned so much since I opened that email in Italy. Receiving two contracts for two books and to have them both published in the same year is an achievement that still leaves me breathless at times. It’s been
a year filled with blessings and I can only thank profusely all those who
supported me in so many ways.
Anahareo's family with me
My recent visit to Canada and America in September was one of the memorable parts of the year. I flew first to Philadelphia and after a brief weekend adjusting to the hot temperatures I had to fly off again to Calgary (via Dallas?!). Hosted by my colleague and friend Don Smith, Grey Owl’s biographer, he escorted me first to a luncheon to celebrate the launch of my book, Anahareo: A Wilderness Spirit, attended by staff of the Glenbow Museum and Archives, women’s history scholars and people connected with Anahareo’s story. I was thrilled to meet so many people who were enthusiastic about Anahareo who were committed to spread her message and story.
Following the luncheon there was an official book launch at the Glenbow Museum and Archives. Don Smith and Doug Cass, the director of the archives both spoke. After
their introductions Katherine Swartile, Anahareo’s youngest daughter said a few words and gave some personal insight on her mother’s personality. I rounded off the launch with my own presentation of Anahareo, showing first the book trailer and then giving an overview of her life and achievements. To give the presentation a little interest I showed the photograph of my great-grandmother in her version of Indian dress complete with feather and buckskin dress, a real example of a stereotype of the time period.
Set against Anahareo’s elegant image it made a strong point.
During the reception I was thrilled to be able to finally meet Sandra and Glaze, Anahareo and Grey Owl’s grandchildren. There was no mistaking their ancestry. Glaze especially looked very much like Grey Owl as he sat their solemnly during the speeches. There were also other members of Anahareo’s family in attendance and what a pleasure it was to see the many generations gathered to hear Anahareo’s achievements.
Following the launch I drove 8 hours west to Katherine’s home to help go through and then collect the papers of Anahareo and her daughter, Dawn who died in 1984. There were also a few letters written by Grey Owl too, as well as wonderful photographs, letters, reports and newspaper clippings. I was so grateful that Katherine and her family decided to donate the papers to Glenbow and duly took them back to Calgary to be lodged there. This is a particularly special collection because it is rare enough to have the papers of a First Nations woman available for research.
I packed a lot in a few days but felt very satisfied with
the result and headed back to Philadelphia. There I appeared first at Glenside Library, where I used to work as a children’s librarian some years ago. It was wonderful to see old faces and meet some new ones. My Mt. Airy connections even came into play when someone from the Irish Center attended and
quizzed me about living in Ireland.
From Glenside it was onto West Windsor Library in Princeton Junction to give a workshop, Writing a Novel. Attendance there was overwhelming and in the end we had to turn people away. It was an enjoyable experience though and I managed to pack a load of tips and guidelines and distributed handouts. One of my professors said he always judged the quality of a workshop by whether there were handouts or not. So I must have
After West Windsor Library it was back to Pennsylvania again, this time to Radnor Library. In that fabulous library with its lovely meeting room I was able to wax lyrical to an interested audience about both books. It was a lovely evening and I met some very interesting people there as well.
Overall I was away nearly a month and was as close to an extensive book tour as I will probably ever come.
Bookshops are becoming endangered species in some places and libraries are the natural replacement to promote books in person. I do enjoy the personal connection, but it is a tiring experience too. I don’t envy the likes of Hilary Clinton who are constantly engaged in shuttle diplomacy.
Now, as Christmas approaches, I’m back in my writing cave working on the next novel, and formulating the ideas for the novel after that (the ideas keep coming in without any control). I must say I do enjoy it, but I still feel the draw to connect to other readers and writers and anyone who enjoys a good story.
The big news is that Selkie Dreams is now available in paperback. So if anyone wants to
give a Christmas present of a book it is there for the choosing. If you live in the US you’ll have to get it from www.bookdepository.com rather than Amazon because the US publication of paperback Selkie Dreams is deferred until May. But for UK residents (and Ireland) you can buy the paperback from www.amazon.uk as well.
Kristin Gleeson is a writer, artist and musician who lives in the west of Ireland in the Gaeltacht.
Recieve a free novella prequel to Along the Far Shores when you sign up for the mailing list on the homepage