My first attempt at a novel was written at the kitchen table, on a portable electric typewriter my parents gave me when I graduated college.  I put the book away in a drawer when it was done– the plot had holes and there was more middle than end– but I learned a lot about writing and a few weeks later I started again. SUNDER, ECLIPSE and SEED went on to become a finalist in the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts Crawford Award for best first novel.

SUNDER will always be my favorite book and it was meant to be part of a trilogy.  I finished the sequel, THE HAVENS, but before it was printed the editors moved from ROC to HarperCollins and I moved with them.  THE HAVENS was orphaned-- though I didn't know at the time what that meant-- and I went to work on the Alaska series my editors asked for.

SUMMER LIGHT and its sequel DAUGHTER OF THE SHAMAN are fantasies, prehistories set along the northwest coast of Alaska 2000 years ago.  Since I had been an anthropology major at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, it mattered tremendously to me that I get the details as accurate as possible.

When I’m not writing, I’m usually outside chopping firewood in the winter and building stone walls in the summer.  That’s the Alaska part of my days, and it’s a good life and pretty typical here in Fairbanks.  I grew up in New York City, followed my brothers north in the "pre-pipeline" days of the 70's and enrolled at the University.  I lived the cabin life (NOT the television reality version) as many students still do.  I studied by kerosene light, heated with wood, hauled water and yup, that means no indoor plumbing and no electricity.  But don't worry, this was well before computers and cell phones and anyway, there was the University during the days with a great gym for showers, a library for studying, and pizza and laundromat in the student center.

A few years later, my husband Luke Hopkins and I started building our own home.  In Fairbanks that means we cleared our 20 acres of discontinuous permafrost with chainsaws (mine is an Echo, his a Stihl), brought in electricity and after that a phone (for years we shared a party line with my brothers) and finally when my second child was born, a well with running water.  The house has grown but my husband and I still do all the work ourselves.  There's more windows and a home office where I write and enjoy the 24 hours of summer light, and in the winter look out my bedroom window and watch the northern lights.


Elyse Guttenberg is an award winning Alaskan Author. She writes by day and at night wields her chain saw on 20 acres of discontinuous permafrost in Fairbanks, Alaska. She is the recipient of an Alaska State Council on the Arts Individual Fellowship in Literature and an Artists Initiative Award. Her first novel Sunder, Eclipse and Seed was shortlisted for the Crawford award for best first novel by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. Summer Light and Daughter of the Shaman are Alaskan prehistories. Other work appears in The Women’s Press Book of New Myth and Magic; Spaceships and Spells; Faces of Fantasy, About Place Journal and other publications. With Jean Anderson, she is the editor of Inroads, an Anthology of Writing by Alaska’s Fellowship Writers.