Memoir a personal journey for Eagle River author

Friday, March 15, 2019 - 11:59
  • Eagle River author Monica Devine will read a selection from her new memoir “Water Mask” during a book signing event on Sunday, March 17 at Jitters Coffee Shop in Eagle River. (Courtesy photos)

Local author Monica Devine will hold a reading of her new memoir “Water Mask,” on Sunday, March 17, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at Jitters Coffee Shop in Eagle River. She’ll also hold a second signing April 27.

Devine is a retired speech therapist whose work took her all over Alaska. Her book is a collection of 15 stories detailing her life and experiences.

“In these stories she skis woodland trails with her baby on her back, navigates sea ice with whalers and whirls two thousand feet above the tundra with a rookie bush pilot,” reads a description of the book, which is published by University of Alaska Press. “…her journey is exhilarating — but not without reminders of the folly of romanticising a northern landscape that both rejects and beguiles. Reflections on family, place, memory, work, perception and Native culture are woven into a seductive tapestry of a life well-lived and well-loved.”

Devine is an accomplished author who has published five children’s books as well as a nonfiction book about early child development. She said the idea to craft a memoir came from her journal writing and blogging, which eventually morphed into the book.

“I think it’s just cumulative over the years,” she said.

She said the stories in the book juxtapose landscape with personal accounts of her life traveling through rural Alaska.

“There’s stories about coming to Alaska, living in Alaska and some of the experiences out in the Bush where I worked,” she said.

Devine credited her editor, Andromeda Romano-Lax, with helping her turn a collection of thoughts and ideas into a cohesive memoir.

“A good editor is worth her weight in gold,” Devine said. “She helped me shape the book in ways I was unaware of.”

Devine said she also drew inspiration and support from the local 49 Writers group, which she said provides writing groups and classes that have been instrumental in her development as an author.

“I don’t have a master’s degree in creative writing, but the people that are offering classes through 49 Writers are just excellent,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot.”

Devine said she’s already hard at work on her next project, which is a 180-degree turn from her memoir.

“Right now I’m working on fiction,” she said.

Devine said she enjoyed the personal journey of working on “Water Mask,” but has really enjoyed the new challenge of making up stories out of thin air.

“Fiction — at least so far — has been so much fun and liberating because I don’t have to stick to facts,” she said.

Devine has lived in the area for more than four decades and said she’s looking forward to Sunday’s reading for her friends and neighbors in Eagle River.

“I like doing it in my hometown,” she said.

The event is free and open to all.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or call 257-4274

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