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The Joys of a Wild Collaboration

Karen Reczuch and I count ourselves as lucky! Most authors and illustrators do not get to work directly together on a book. An editor is usually the conduit between the two (mainly to protect the illustrator from the possibility of an overbearing author directing the art).

In our case, while we still rely on our wonderful editor, Karen and I also regularly talk about our books-in-progress, share research materials and—best of all—take fun trips to the west coast of Vancouver Island together!

Selfie of Deborah Hodge and Karen Reczuch

Here’s our selfie taken at the start of our most recent trip. We are excited! (Karen on the left, Deborah on the right)]

It all began a few years ago with our first book, West Coast Wild, when Karen and I travelled to the spectacular west coast of Vancouver Island to do photo research. (She and I hadn’t met before—so it was a leap of faith to plan an excursion together!)

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Reimagining West Coast History

Peggy Herring reimagines West Coast history in her new book, Anna, Like Thunder, and in this recommended reading list, she shares titles that share the same questions that she explored as she was writing the novel. 

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Anna, Like Thunder is fiction based on fact. In 1808, a Russian trading ship ran aground off the coast of Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula. According to historical record, the 22 people on board the St. Nikolaiwere captured, enslaved, and traded up and down the coast until rescued 18 months later. But the record also recounts that a Russian woman on the ship—Anna Petrovna Bulygina—refused rescue only a few months into the ordeal. She called the Makahs with whom she was living “kind and humane people.”

This novel explores Anna’s decision and asks questions about the early days of contact between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people—and how the historical record portrays those encounters using language, tone, and specific voices chosen to tell the stories. Through Anna’s eyes, we witness the effects of the misguided and disruptive Russian imperial policy on the inhabitants and their land.

My research demanded that I look deeply into my own Russian heritage and, with respect to protocols, that I also reach out to the communities aff …

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