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Adventure, mystery, poetry, an Alaskan historical thriller, and cutaway drawings of boats

Looking for something literary as gifts this holiday season? Consider adventure, mystery, poetry, an Alaska historical thriller, and cutaway drawings of boats by local authors and/or Alaska-themed literature for the book lovers on your holiday shopping list.

“Interior Waypoints – Sailing to Colombia,” by Scott Burbank

For 37 years, Scott Burbank and his wife Susan Aramovich operated a seasonal adventure travel tourist business, spending their summers in Homer and pursuing their love for adventure the rest of the year. Today they divide their time between Alaska and Colombia. “Interior Waypoints – Sailing to Colombia” is Burbank’s first book, inspired after six years of seasonal travel under sail, overland, and by kayak across Latin America.

“During that period I felt that we were just living our life, but friends and family’s responses and encouragement to write a book made me realize that we were living extraordinary adventures and that it might be fun to record them,” he said.

“Interior Waypoints” follows Burbank and his wife’s journeys, both together and when they were apart on parallel travels in South America, navigating not only bodies of water, but also their relationship.

Burbank’s success with “Interior Waypoints” has inspired him to begin writing a book about his journey to and early years in Alaska.

“Theft of an Idol,” by Dana Stabenow

Dana Stabenow’s most recent novel, “Theft of an Idol,” was inspired by her lifelong interest in Cleopatra, and is the third in the Eye of Isis series and set in Alexandria and Egypt in the time of Cleopatra.

“The Eye of Isis is chosen personally by each ruler and serves at the ruler’s pleasure,” Stabenow said. “In the first book, ‘Death of an Eye,’ the current Eye of Isis is murdered and Queen Cleopatra tasks her friend Tetisheri with finding the killer. In the second book, ‘Disappearance of a Scribe,’ the body of a young man is discovered in the Royal Harbor with his feet stuck in a block of cement. In ‘Theft of an Idol,’ an actress who is much more than she seems disappears.”

The woman who answered the door, grim and grizzled and who bore an uncanny resemblance to the wolf god Wepwawet at his most unsociable, looked down upon both of them with disfavor. “I will inquire if my mistress is at home.”

The door closed again with a firmness that was not quite a slam. Babak looked up at Tetisheri with big eyes. “Who was that?”

Raised in Seldovia, Stabenow began writing in the mid 1980s, publishing her first book, “Second Star,” the first in a science fiction trilogy, in 1991. Excluding the collections of short pieces, she has published 38 books to date, including science fiction, thrillers, mysteries and fantasies.

The founder of Storyknife, a retreat in Homer for women writers, Stabenow is at work on her next book, “Not the Ones Dead,” the twenty-third Kate Shugak novel. She is also outlining the next four Eye of Isis novels.

“The Round Whisper of No Moon,” by Peter Kaufmann

Peter Kaufmann’s first published collection of poetry, “The Round Whisper of No Moon,” weaves imagery and story gathered over 20 years of migrating between rural Alaska and densely populated cities in Southeast Asia where he worked with people pushed to the margins of society because of poverty, disease or disability.

“Engaging with them with creative activities that encouraged them to share their stories, these two very different worlds explore themes of migration, home, love, longing and belonging,” he said.

Kaufmann’s poem, “Life Is a Small Farm Going Out of Business or Maybe It’s Just the Auction,” has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

You will try and try again,

slowly the machinery will break down.

The old rust colored tractor, held together with bailing wire

will keep running, tires cracked as chapped lips.

The wheat still sprouts green and forever each spring,

which comes more often now.

The banker’s shadow appears on the side of the barn

leaning with the prevailing wind,

like the row of cypress trees

that line the dirt road.

The neighbors sold out.

No one knows the new owners, who will not live there.

The auction is scheduled,

All your years priced to sell,

the stamps patiently collected, 40 cents on the dollar.

Someone will argue over the Indian basket

you decide to keep at the last minute.

Someday kids will look through the windows,

maybe salvage the 6-paners or decide to move in,

clean out the squirrel nests and porcupine shit,

where they will find your old spatula with the wooden handle

and your old love letters,

leaving the calendar on the wall

with the picture of a farmer’s wife

holding a jar of preserves,

hair held back in a polka-dotted scarf.

A Homer resident for nearly 50 years, Kaufmann has been writing since he was a young boy and is married to Wendy Erd, an accomplished writer.

“Ida Mae Joy: Gold Dust Dreams,” by Brian George Smith

A filmmaker and editor, Brian George Smith has been writing screenplays for nearly 40 years. His newest book is “Ida Mae Joy: Gold Dust Dreams,” an Alaskanhistorical thriller loosely based on his grandmother, Ida Mae Joy, and her time in Skagway during the Klondike Gold Rush.

…I stretched out my arm, further, just a little bit further… Got it! A coin of some sort, I gripped it gently between the tips of my fingers—

“‘Find a penny…’”

I gasped and dropped the coin. The voice was rich and sonorous—just the hint of a Southern accent, Georgia perhaps? —pitched low, yet it cut right through the hubbub of the street.

“Here, let me give you a hand.”

Backlit by the sun, I couldn’t make out much of the man. Broad-brimmed hat, pistol low on his hip, fairly new boots. Somewhat curt, I fired back, “I am quite fine, thank you very much.” I climbed back to my feet, dusting off my hands and skirt. “You however have spoiled my retrieval of The Queen’s Jewels!” He nodded thoughtfully, touched his hat. “And for that, miss, I am frightfully sorry.” He smiled, an open, honest smile, which was disarming. He was still holding out the one hand. In the other the butt, unlit, of a cigar.

Smith shared that aside from the period research involved, the novel seemed to write itself.

“I felt for six months like I was just sitting still, listening, and taking down Ida Mae’s story,” he said. “Once I put pen to paper, this book just flowed.”

This spring, Smith will publish a second Ida Mae book, “Pearl: In Search of Ida Mae Joy.”

“Working Boats: An Inside Look at Ten Amazing Watercraft,” by Tom Crestodina

Fisherman Tom Crestodina lives in Washington and has fished Alaska waters for years. His newly published book, “Working Boats: An Inside Look at Ten Amazing Watercraft,” features a series of colorful cutaway or cross section drawings of boats, showcasing each boat’s inner workings and engineering, as well as additional drawings and text that provide information on everything from navigation to safety at sea to the role and function of each vessel, and more.

“This book is my love letter to fishing families and families in the maritime trades,” he said.

Drawing as a hobby since a boy, Crestodina created his first cutaway in 2011 of the salmon seiner he was fishing on in Alaska. Away from his young son for the first time, the drawing was intended to show his son where his daddy was and what he was doing. For the next 10 years, Crestodina continued to draw other boats — skiffs, shrimp boats, tugboats, ferries, a troller, a Bristol Bay gillnetter, a NOAA research ship — eventually selling his drawings as prints in art galleries. Garnering the attention of his now editor, Crestodina’s cutaways became the series that became “Working Boats,” showcasing each boat’s mission and a glimpse of what it is like to live and work on a boat.

Crestodina’s drawing of a salmon seiner shows the captain in the wheelhouse, a man and woman on deck wearing raingear and holding shovels, while a man with a beard and ball cap in an adjacent skiff sets the net. Below deck in the bow or fo’c’sle are the crew bunks, next to that a set of stairs, then the engine room with socks, underwear and a towel hanging on a line in what is often the warmest and driest room on a boat, then the fish hold full of seawater and salmon, and in the stern or lazaret, items are stored that aren’t needed every day, like spare parts.

The skipper hollers “Let ’er go!” With a rumble, a clang, and a puff of smoke, the seiner (SAY-ner) and skiff set their net.

Scientists manage salmon fishing to keep fishermen from catching too many fish, which would hurt the population in future seasons. The scientists use airplanes to first count the fish laying eggs in the streams to ensure that there will be plenty of baby fish hatched. If there are enough, they open the waters to fishing for a one- or two-day period. During this time, police airplanes fly over to make sure that the fishermen are following the rules. Afterward, the scientists close the waters while they count fish again and decide when and where the next opening should be. While the fishery is closed, the crews rest, buy groceries, and repair their nets.

Crestodina’s next project will be a coloring book companion to “Working Boats” that will be available Christmas 2023.

Want to support local authors and businesses? These books can be found at the Homer Bookstore.

Dana Stabenow at a recent booksigning at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by John Charles)

Dana Stabenow at a recent booksigning at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by John Charles)

Tom Crestodina signing books at Gig Harbor Bookshop in Washington in November. (Photo provided)

Tom Crestodina signing books at Gig Harbor Bookshop in Washington in November. (Photo provided)

Peter Kaufmann holds a copy of his book of poetry, "The Round Whisper of No Moon." (Photo provided)

Tom Crestodina signing books at Gig Harbor Bookshop in Washington in November. (Photo provided)

Scott Burbank hold a copy of his adventure book, “Interior Waypoints.” (Photo provided)

Scott Burbank hold a copy of his adventure book, “Interior Waypoints.” (Photo provided)

The cover of Brian Smith’s memoir, “GoldenBoy: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Diary of My Life.” (Photo provided)

The cover of Brian Smith’s memoir, “GoldenBoy: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Diary of My Life.” (Photo provided)

Tom Crestodina’s cutaway drawing of the Alsek. (Photo provided)

Tom Crestodina’s cutaway drawing of the Alsek. (Photo provided)