5 Years of The Snow Child
February 2, 2017
Dear reader – today The Snow Child is five years old!
On Feb. 1, 2012, it was published both in the United States and the UK. It’s a little dizzying, these years later, to recall its humble beginnings and all that was to come after.
In 2007, I was pregnant with our youngest daughter and working at Fireside Books here in Palmer, Alaska. I remember it was a snowy winter evening and I was getting ready to close up the shop. As I shelved a few last books, I came across a little paperback children’s book. It was a retelling of Snegurotchka, the Russian fairy tale about an old man and woman who build a little girl out of snow and she comes to life. ‘Her dress was trimmed with icicles, and her hair was made of willow branches covered with frost.’ A shiver ran through me. This is it, I thought. This is the story I should be telling!
For a while I resisted the pull, trying to focus on another novel I had been working on for years. But eventually, I gave in and let Jack and Mabel, Faina and Garret, and the Wolverine River take over my imagination.
Each evening, as I wrote in my small closet-office with its bare bulb hanging from the ceiling, I had a thrilling sense that I was on the right path. But I had absolutely no idea where it would take me.
How could I have imagined that The Snow Child would eventually win a UK National Book Award and be a finalist for the Pulitzer, that booksellers, librarians and bloggers would champion it and share it so generously?
The Snow Child has gone on to be published in more than 25 translations – German, Italian, Spanish, Lithuanian, Hebrew, Chinese, Korean to name a few – and be distributed in more than 30 countries.
I continue to receive touching letters and emails from around the world. Artists and musicians have sent me their work inspired by my novel. Women have written to me about their own struggles with infertility, and couples have described reading the book together. Book clubs have sent me photos of their snowy-themed meetings, and readers have told me about their own connections to the Alaska wilderness.
And I still get questions about the book – who is Faina? Where did she come from, and where did she go? At first, I felt compelled to explain myself, to try to put readers at ease. But I don’t do that anymore. I wrote The Snow Child, but now readers make it their own.
Mostly, though, as I think back on these five years with The Snow Child, I am grateful. Grateful to my family, my agent and publishers, my friends and neighbors, and to all of those who have kept the story alive.