What inspired you to write your memoir?
After my father and step-mother were killed by a grizzly in Alaska’s remote Arctic, I felt compelled to sing the requiem, to take their same final rive trip…and finally, to write about all of it. I wasn’t sure for a long time what it was that made it so important for me to write about this part of my life, though I relate more and more to a term Pam Houston has used about our life stories as “shattered narratives,” and now I understand that I needed to see how I might be able to put the pieces of a life back together in a way that made something beautiful out of something tragic.
About your Book:
After her parents are killed in a rare grizzly attack, the author is forced into a wilderness of grief. Turning to loves she learned from her father, Polson explores the perilous terrain of grief through music, the natural world, and her faith. Her travels take her from the suburbs of Seattle to the concert hall where she sings Mozart’s Requiem, and ultimately into the wilderness of Alaska’s remote Arctic and of her heart.
This deeply moving narrative is shot through with the human search for meaning in the face of tragedy. Polson’s deep appreciation for the untamed and remote wilderness of the Alaskan Arctic moves her story effortlessly between adventure, natural history, and sacred pilgrimage, as much an internal journey as a literal one. Readers who appreciate music or adventure narratives and the natural world or who are looking for new ways to understand loss will find guidance, solace, and a companionable voice in this extraordinary debut.
How did you decide how to publish your book and where is it published through:
I wanted to find a traditional publisher for North of Hope, as I think there is still a lot to be gained from this kind of partnership and access to audiences, as well as other publishing resources. My publisher is Zondervan, an imprint of Harper Collins.
How do you see writing a Memoir as different from writing other genres of books?
Memoir is a uniquely exposed form of writing, and a strange one in that you write about yourself as honestly and probingly as possible, yet still need to consider your character in the book as a narrator, still need to limit yourself and shape your writing and characters (including the character of you) based on the needs of the story.
Shannon Huffman Polson writes about the borders we navigate every day. Her first book, a memoir called North of Hope, is due out in the spring of 2013 from Zondervan/Harper Collins. Her essays and articles appear in a number of literary magazines and periodicals and her work is anthologized in More Than 85 Broads and the upcoming Be There Now: Travel Stories from Around the World.”
Polson was born in Anchorage, Alaska, and grew up loving the outdoors. After studying English Literature at Duke, she headed from the ivory tower to the tarmac of Ft. Rucker, AL, where she flew Apaches in the first crop of women attack helicopter pilots. An MBA at the Tuck School at Dartmouth transitioned her to five years in marketing at two companies. Now she’s back in the books, and back in love. Polson has scuba dived on three continents, sky dived on two, and climbed the highest mountain in North America and Africa. When she’s not writing, she can be found in the mountains of Washington and Alaska with her husband and son, accompanied by their Alaskan husky, volunteering teaching writing at The Recovery Cafe, serving on the board of the Alaska Wilderness League, singing with a local choral group and participating as an active member of her church. In 2009 Polson was awarded the Trailblazer Woman of Valor award by Senator Maria Cantwell. Polson earned her MFA in Creative Non-fiction from Seattle Pacific University in August of 2012.
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