Caleb Rosen, 4th Grade Book Contest winner, read his book Mystery Island, the story of Jack and Jan, a brother and sister who, while playing on the beach near their home, suddenly find themselves swept away by a tidal wave. They find safety on a fence floating in the water. Their adventures take them to a dragon-infested cave, where they encounter a good dragon named Mag, and then to Mystery Island where they meet Bigfoot’s cousin, Morsoe. Mag carries Jack and Jan home to their parents then flies them all to Mystery Island where Morsoe has built them a beautiful new home with a pool and a hot tub! Caleb did an awesome job reading his book and his mom Karin assisted by showing his charming illustrations. Once again, we congratulate Caleb on his winning entry and encourage him to keep writing. He’s off to a great start!
President Elsie Rochna then introduced Susan Denning of the Literary Arts, who talked about the Oregon Book Awards, which were founded in 1987. Since then, over 500 awards have been awarded, and the winners tour the state. Susan then introduced Jane Kirkpatrick and John Daniel, our featured speakers. Jane is the author of A Flickering Light, which was a finalist for the 2011 Ken Kesey Award in fiction. Jane said a good story should seek, treasure and tell some secrets. Story threads include landscapes, relationships, spirituality, which she defines as the search for meaning in life and the reality of death, and the characters’ work. She showed photos which inspired as she wrote A Flickering Light, which is about her grandmother, a photographer in the early 1900s. She noted that the photos give a sense of place as well as insights into family relationships and the landscapes where her ancestors lived, all of which are a key part of the novel. Jane said an author must have empathy for the characters, give voice to voices seldom heard, and then memorialize them. These are the goals she has set for herself during her very successful writing journey. Jane’s words give inspiration to us all!
John Daniel is the winner of the 2011 Sarah Winnemucca Award for creative nonfiction for his book The Far Corner. The essays contained in John’s book are beautifully written, guaranteed to capture the reader and take him/her on a wondrous journey through Oregon’s diverse natural landscapes and human experiences. John said his writer’s journey has gone from poetry to stories to prosaic narratives. In addition to reading a richly descriptive account of his drive from east to west across southeastern and Central Oregon, John also read a humorous piece titled “How to Pass for an Oregon Native When You’re Not.” John went on to describe writing as “showing up”. In response to a question from the audience, John said he spends three-to-four hours a day writing. He makes the commitment, then providence takes over. He counseled us to enjoy writing, and went on to say, if you can write an essay that moves people you can write fiction. Writing in a genre empowers us to move into another. Currently working on a novel, John’s advice is to first do a proposal, then start writing the story.
It was a privilege to host two such extraordinary Oregon authors as Jane Kirkpatrick and John Daniel, and we are most appreciative that Susan Denning arranged their appearance during the Oregon Book Awards Author Tour. We were indeed honored by their presence!