What began years ago as bedtime stories he made up for his two oldest children — Yarrow, now 36, and North, now 34 — have become the basis for what author Bumppo Bremicker is anticipating will be a six-part series, beginning with “Everlasting and The Great River — Adventures of an Alaskan Dene Girl.”
The stories first were told when Bremicker and his family lived in Bear Cove, near the head of Kachemak Bay. How the Dene people became the leading characters is a bit of a mystery to the storyteller, but probably connected to the time he was in that part of Alaska.
“I had spent a little time in the Interior and it just seemed like it would be a nice story for my kids,” said Bremicker.
Where the lead character’s name, “Everlasting,” came from is an even bigger mystery.
“I have no idea,” said Bremicker. “I don’t know why I called her that. It just seemed like a nice name for a little girl.”
Mystery, it seems, is what Bremicker is good at. Set on the shores of the Yukon River in the mid 1800s, “Everlasting and The Great River,” begins with floodwaters raging through the remote site in which Everlasting and her people live. Their village, including homes and food, is destroyed. Fortunately, everyone is accounted for. Everyone, that is, except for Everlasting’s father and uncle who have gone downriver earlier in the day in search of fresh fish. And so the mystery — and adventure — begins.
With the help of a talking stick, Everlasting enlists help from an unexpected source. As her mother, sister and brothers work hard to rebuild after the flood, Everlasting announces she will go in search of her missing family members.
“But Everlasting, you are only a small girl and the
world is a large and dangerous place,” says her mother.
From there, Bremicker continues to weave a story of adventure, danger, challenges and surprises that are part of the young girl’s quest through the heart of Alaska.
With more than 25 years on Alaska’s waters, Bremicker is no stranger to adventures. That came after a childhood spent in North Dakota and Minnesota, “as far form the ocean as you can get,” said the author. “But my dad told tales about being in California and the ocean. I always wanted to see it and Alaska was the ultimate place to go so I had to come to Alaska.”
Once here, Bremicker made up for all that land-locked time.
“I was a commercial fisherman for 25 years, had my own boat for 10 years, ran charter boats for 10 years and also ran freight-hauling boats so I’ve spent a lot of years on the ocean,” he said.
For eight years, Bremicker lived at Tutka Bay and then five years at Bear Cove before moving to Homer.
While his father told sea stories, Bremicker’s connection to writing can be tied to his mother.
“She’s a very talented writer, has written columns in newspapers, and I always wanted to write. That was always my plan,” he said. “Actually, in high school my brother and I wrote lots of songs together. I’d write the lyrics and he’d do the music. And I always figured at some point in my life I was going to quit doing adventuring and maybe write about it.”
During the course of working on some children’s book, his son, North, reminded him of the stories he told his children at Bear Cove
“I was talking to my son one day and he said, ‘Remember those stories you told us about Everlasting? I loved those stories.’ So, he was the inspiration, really, to start writing this series,” said Bremicker.
Not content to simply retell the stories he made up, Bremicker has done his homework, researching the region and the language of the people who live there and weaving it into the tale.
The book’s cover art and illustrations are done by graphic artist Bob Parsons.
“We worked back and forth a long time on the cover,” said Bremicker, who insisted the geographic details be correct. “You’ve got to get those details accurate. I tried to make everything as true as I could in the book, true to the details.”
With Bremicker’s hint that the next book in the series will be “Everlasting and the Great Ocean,” readers can anticipate the author may work some of his own adventures into the plot.
Copies of “Everlasting and The Great River — Adventures of an Alaskan Dene Girl” are available at the Homer Bookstore.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.