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Friday, March 4, 2016

kay's favorites from the keeper shelf...Dana Stabenow


Welcome to the 3rd 'kay's favorites'!!  I'm so happy to be highlighting an author whose work I have truly loved over the last 20 years or so.  Her name is Dana Stabenow and she writes, among other things, a favorite mystery series of mine featuring Alaskan Kate Shugak.

I was beyond excited to get to meet Dana this last weekend while attending the Left Coast Crime Convention in Phoenix.  I got this lovely picture of Ms. Stabenow when I spotted her (no, I didn't stalk her...really!) in the hotel lobby relaxing for a moment.  Yes, I marched right up and said, 'I love your books!' and I'm writing a 'favorites' post about you.  She, being a kind woman, asked if I wanted a picture and I did.  This was the result.  There will also be a picture shared on Monday of the two of us (she looks like the better half) as part of my 'fangirl' post.  It was a terrifying and wonderful encounter for me.  So, let me tell you about this 'favorite' author.




Dana's short bio on her website says:

I was raised on a fish tender in south central Alaska, and I knew there had to be a warmer, drier job out there somewhere.

Short and sweet.  The longer version relates that she was indeed raised on a 75-foot fish tender in the Gulf of Alaska.  The Great Alaskan Earthquake occurred in 1964 during her 12th birthday party - mega fun, huh?  Dana put herself through the University of Alaska working for a seafood company.  After she graduated with a degree in journalism, she spent 4 months backpacking through Europe, spending what little money she had.  Coming home pretty much broke, Stabenow found that work had begun again on the TransAlaska Pipeline.  She began working for various companies connected with oil and gas, made a very decent living, and vacationed in Hawaii often.

At the age of 30, Dana took a look at her life and decided to enroll in a MFA program and try to write a book.  She got her Master's degree and her first science fiction novel, Second Star, was published in 1991.  A Cold Day For Murder, the first Kate Shugak book, came out in 1992 and it won the Edgar Award in 1993.  And she was off....

There are now 20 books in the Shugak mystery series, as well as 4 books in the Liam Campbell series.  This author also has written several science fiction novels, a couple of stand alone mysteries, and most recently, a historical trilogy based on the life of Marco Polo's granddaughter.  It is called the Silk and Song Trilogy and includes the titles, Everything Under the Heavens, By the Shores of the Middle Sea, and The Land Beyond.

Let me tell you just a little bit about Kate Shugak and her Alaskan world.  I'll also share a couple of books in the series that I love.  Kate Shugak is an Aleut and she lives on a homestead in 'The Park'.  Kate comes from the village of Niniltna and she went away to Anchorage to go to school, have a career, and live life.  After a particularly horrifying child abuse case, Kate has left her job as an investigator for the Anchorage DA's office and come home.  She lives with her half-wolf, half-husky dog, Mutt, and these two ladies do very well together.  In A Cold Day For Murder, a young park ranger has gone missing and Kate is asked by her old boss and the FBI to assist in determining what happened.  And we begin our tour of Alaska, visiting all the many locations and very interesting people that live in that far northern state.

Another of my 'must read again' entries in this series is the 4th book, A Cold-Blooded Business.  This story takes place in the oilfields of the North Slope, brutal, cold country.  Kate goes undercover, at the bequest of the Anchorage DA's Office, to investigate who is bringing in drugs and selling to the employees of Royal Petroleum.  Dana Stabenow uses her knowledge of the oil industry to give us a fascinating picture of those people who work in the Far North and what their lives might be like.

The last specific book that I will mention is Breakup, the 7th in the series.  Breakup or spring is the time when the bears come out of hibernation, the roads are slushy and muddy, and tempers are short.  Kate is trying to do her taxes, figure out if a bear really killed the man in the woods, and is dodging bullets and honestly crazy people.  Lots of humor here.  And another one that deserves a reread soon.

As I said, there are 20 books in this great series.  I am a bit behind reading them.  I think I have 3 left to catch up, but that works out well because Dana says that she is working on #21.  She's not sure when it will be published.  She also is planning on beginning a book about Cleopatra.  After writing about Marco Polo's granddaughter, she found writing historical fiction a lot of fun.

Dana Stabenow will be the Guest of Honor at next year's Left Coast Crime Convention in Honolulu.  It's called Honolulu Havoc.  Sounds great!  I hope you'll consider picking up one of her books and finding out why she's earned her spot on my 'keeper shelf'.

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Join me in a couple of weeks for the next 'kay's favorites from the keeper shelf...' when I'll be talking about Mary Stewart and her wonderful Gothic suspense novels.      

40 comments:

  1. I don't know how I have missed this author. On my TBR list

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    1. I don't know how you've missed her either. LOL

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  2. Thanks for featuring this author and sharing some of her book titles here, Kay! She's a new-to-me author so I'll have to check out her books.

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  3. I enjoyed many of the Kate Shugak mysteries but fell off reading the series recently.

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    1. It is a long one. As I've said, I'm a few behind myself.

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  4. Terrific post, Kay. What an interesting life she's led! I can see I have some excellent KS books coming up. I think I should look into the trilogy about Marco Polo's grand-daughter too as they sound like they might be interesting. Thanks for such a fun post.

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    1. Cath, I think you might well like the new trilogy. It sounds like your sort of book. And thanks for stopping by and checking this out. Turned out to be perfectly timed with your recent read of the 2nd Shugak book.

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    2. Book three will probably be my next read! And by the way my daughter and son-in-law both enjoyed this post when I showed them this morning. My son-in-law was very envious that you met Dana Stabenow! Me too, to be honest. LOL!

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    3. Cath, I am so happy to hear that your kiddos enjoyed this post. I thought about you guys when I was writing it. I loved meeting her.

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  5. Thanks for the lovely post, Kay! Writing is a solitary occupation and it's great to meet the people who read the results of all those sweaty hours hunched over our keyboards.

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    1. And thank you, Dana, for sweating and writing and hunching for us. LOL

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  6. Wow she has wrote many books, great stuff. Love the picture, so fun to see author pictures, look forward to your post next week. I will have to check her out. Does she have stand alone's, that is always my preference .

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    1. I think there are a couple of stand alone books. I haven't read them, but I'm pretty sure she has done a couple.

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  7. I've never read anything by her, but love some of the titles. Add that to your recommendations--and she's on my list for the next library visit!

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    1. Hope you try them out, Jen. Think you might like Kate and Mutt.

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  8. To me, authors are rock stars. I gush over them when I meet any of my favorites. So glad you got the chance to meet one of your favorites, Kay. Sounds like you had a great time at the convention.

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  9. I am so glad you got to meet a favorite author in person. I was just telling my husband this morning about book conventions, and how I really need to go to one because authors are to me like meeting a Kardashian would be to my younger daughter :)

    I have seen this series around forever, but because I wasn't sure if I'd like it and didn't know anyone who read it, I passed it by. I respect your opinions and her bio makes her sound fun and "she's walked the walk" for the detailed setting of this storyline, so I'm in! Will check my library on next visit for book #1.

    Is it okay to skip some if I want to move to the more current ones? Or do you recommend them all in order?

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    1. Rita, it's a series like any other and the characters grow and change, but that being said, skip to your hearts content. To catch up with 20 books is a big undertaking.

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  10. Sad to say, I haven't read anything by this author. I have had A Cold Day For Murder on my shelves but haven't picked it up yet. Will have to do that. I have read about her and she sounds like an interesting person.

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    1. I think she has led an interesting life. Hope you enjoy trying her books.

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  11. I love Alaskan settings! I'm not familiar with this author, but I'll have to check her out. Glad you got to meet her, and that you weren't stalking. ;-)

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    1. Yes, it's hard to explain how 'scary' it was to me - walking up to authors and praising their works. It was easier when they were behind a signing table. Easier still at home on my computer. LOL

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  12. Excellent. I love Dana Stabenow. She is my favorite author. Anything she puts her hand to works out beautifully. She is a great descriptive writer. Also, I think Kate went to college in Fairbanks. Love your blog on Dana.

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    1. Ginger, thanks for stopping by. I'm quite sure you are correct about Kate's college city. It's been a while since I read any of Dana's books and I need to catch up on those that I've missed. Plus I want to try that Marco Polo granddaughter trilogy! My whole idea of Alaska and the beauty there owes a lot to Dana's books.

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  13. Kay, I adore your blog but you are awful for my TBR pile. LOLOLOL! I actually have the first one in this series on my kindle so I need to get my butt in gear. If you enjoy this series I am sure that I will as well!

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    1. Sam, that is my aim - to make your TBR as big as mine. LOL LOL LOL

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  14. You've picked another 'new to me' author Kay but I can see why you enjoy these so much - as always I'd happily pick one up - another author for the list!

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    1. I love the setting above all else. Just beautiful. Honestly, setting that's almost a character is so appealing to me. Like Peter May's Lewis Island books.

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  15. I've never met any of my favourite authors (I've never met any authors I've read, period!) so I always love hearing about others experiences getting to meet theirs and talk to them. Glad to hear you had a blast! :)

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    1. It was a total fangirl moment. I was terrified and she was so nice. LOL

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  16. I am not familiar with this author. I will have to check it out!

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    1. Try the books and see what you think.

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  17. Like many of the commenters here, I've never read anything by this author, but I intend to remedy that as soon as I catch up on some of my other series. You always give me the best recommendations, so I'll give Stabenow a try. So glad you had fun and got to meet her!

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    1. You should try her series and see what you think. And, yes, it was a lot of fun and terrifying. LOL

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  18. Yay, I love that you had a chance to meet her. I haven't read anything by this author either which I can't believe given that I love mysteries. Oh so many good ones!

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    1. I know - we can't read them all I'm finding - sadly. LOL

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  19. This is a great post, Kay. I'm so glad you got to meet her. She sounds wonderful. I haven't tried anything by her yet, but she's been on my must read list for awhile now.

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    1. She was really nice and easy to chat with. And she helped me with that selfie thing - I never do those. LOL

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Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy to hear your thoughts and will respond as soon as I can. Happy Reading!