Landers shares her new Wrangell-based novel with the community

From the slate-gray shores of petroglyph beach to the splash of the community pool's chlorine-filled waters, the sights and sounds of Wrangell star in Maryann Landers' most recent novel, "Alaskan Escape." Landers' readers and friends gathered at the Stikine Inn last Friday for a book signing.

"Alaskan Escape" is the fourth novel in Landers' Alaska Women of Caliber series, which follows Christian women's experiences with faith and family in Alaska. Landers based each of her "women of caliber" on a real-life woman whose story inspired her, though their accounts are fictionalized and embellished in the novels. For example, the second book in the series, "Alaska Calling," is semi-autobiographical, but unlike its protagonist, Landers has never used a shotgun to defend her daughter from a dangerous moose attack.

Previous novels have drawn their plotlines from family members' experiences and Landers' own experiences - "Alaskan Escape" was inspired by the story of a friend.

The novel centers around a woman named Grace - nicknamed "Amazing Grace" by her husband - who relies on her faith as she adjusts to life in Alaska. For Landers, the act of writing is intrinsically linked to faith - her work illustrates how God shapes the narratives of her characters' lives.

In the world of storytelling, an "inciting incident" is a plot event that sets the rest of a story in motion. Harry takes the train to Hogwarts, Ariel relinquishes her voice to Ursula, Eve partakes of the fruit. Landers says that her inciting incident - the event that inspired her to start writing - was when she shot her first moose in 2021.

"I'm a stay-at-home mom homeschooling my kids," she said. "My world was about this big, right?" She held her hands close together to demonstrate how small the scope of her home life sometimes felt. Participating in the hunt and taking a moose - both traditionally masculine activities in her family - gave her the confidence she needed to pursue writing. "If I can do this, I can do things. ... I conquered something and there's so much in that that encouraged me."

Though Landers does not live in Wrangell anymore, the people and places Grace encounters in "Alaskan Escape" are drawn from the two years Landers spent on the island, from 2010 to 2012. Grace's family sees a sea lion at the dock and participates in the New Years' Day polar plunge - both scenes are based on Landers' Wrangell memories. Landers and her family live in Tok, near the Canadian border.

For those who have always dreamed of writing fiction but have never known how to begin, Landers has a message of hope. Self-publishing a novel is "doable," she said. "There are so many resources now to help writers. ... It has become an indie author world." She relies on self-publishing podcasts, plotting software, and her community of trusted readers for support throughout the writing process.

Fans of Landers have much to look forward to in the coming months. She plans to release a short Christmas story in November and is drafting another semi-autobiographical work.

"Alaskan Escape," along with the rest of the Alaska Women of Caliber series, is available on Amazon or on the author's website, mary-ann-landers.com.

 

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