|Stan took this lovely cover photo in his
Continuing the Questions and Answers with Stan:
3.) Each series effectively uses vast empty lands and coasts. Upfield worked in the Australian interior including a job riding the longest fence in the world, a rabbit fence. The biography on your website says:
I landed Bush planes on the sea ice, drove snowmachines over the tundra, hunted moose and caribou, and once helped paddle a sealskin umiaq in pursuit of a bowhead whale on the Chukchi Sea off Point Hope.
What caused you to make geography such an important part of the series?
Having lived in the region in which Chukchi is located in all seasons, Stan said he experienced how the land is terrifying, beautiful and harsh. A land that can always kill you. It always makes an impression.
4.) Both your books and those of Upfield raise issues of indigenous culture being forced to change by a dominant white culture. Why did you choose to explore such issues?
When he resided along the northwest coast, Stan saw how difficult and how much stress was experienced by the Inupiat people in adapting to white culture.
He said Kotzebue was “wet” when he was there and he saw the devastation in the community caused by alcohol.
Stan further mentioned The Anchorage Daily News, the newspaper for which he worked won a Pulitzer Prize in 1989 for its story, People in Peril, about indigenous people in Alaska and their high rate of suicide.
5.) Upfield sought to improve the pubic image of indigenous Australians through the charismatic and very capable Bony. Upfield said in a letter:
I set out to write a readable book having much aboriginal law centred around the ancient boning of a human being. The more anthropologists of repute study the Australian abo. the further they are mystified by the origin of the race, and the more clearly do they come to think that the race was highly developed when the white and yellow races were human gorillas. I know that the general idea of the abos., based on the Bulletin drawings and jokes is that they are half-wits, and here I have tried to make people understand that the reverse is the truth.
Nathan is certainly a strong character. If Alaska is like my home province of Saskatchewan there remain lots of people with attitudes to indigenous peoples. Are you equally hoping to improve the image of indigenous Alaskans through Nathan’s success as a State Trooper?
Stan was born in Anchorage, spent a few years away from Alaska, and returned to the state when he was 12.
When he was growing up there were stereotypes of indigenous Alaskans as primitive uneducated people. He said there was a famous sign on an Anchorage bar saying “No natives or dogs”.
Many white people were contemptuous of indigenous people and they in turn resented white residents of the state.
With the passing of The Land Claims Act about 40 years ago millions of acres were turned over to indigenous people and communities have used the land to gain economic clout. Stan said attitudes change when there is money.
Stan also feels race is less of an identity issue in the state partially because there are more and more Alaskans of mixed blood living in Alaska.
Thank you for considering my questions.
I look forward to reading Village of the Ghost Bears, the 4th book in the series.
(Good news. Stan said he is working on another Nathan Active book. It will feature a character based on a prominent current Alaskan.)