It starts with a story -- Alaska author starts women's writing retreat near Homer

 The Storyknife guest cabin being used by individual authors.
The Storyknife guest cabin being used by individual authors. (KTUU)
Published: Jul. 12, 2018 at 1:45 PM AKDT
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A little off the beaten path, just north of Homer, Alaska, a space to create is coming to life.

“It starts with a story,” Dana Stabenow says with a laugh. Stabenow is known by most Alaskans as the author of the Kate Shugak and Liam Campbell mysteries. She’s written more than 24 books in the Kate Shugak series and she says it all started with a writer’s retreat.

“The very first thing I earned in my profession was a residency at Hedgebrook Farm, which is a writer's retreat for women,” says Stabenow. “I went down there and for the first time in my life somebody acted like writing was a real job and I met other writers. The experience was so seminal for me there was just no way I was going to fail as a writer after that.”

Now she hopes to extend that experience to other women writers. She’s the driving force behind Storyknife, a writer’s retreat for women.

The physical space will consist of a main building—where the authors will gather each evening for dinner and conversation—and six individual cabins consisting of a small bedroom, bathroom and writing area.

“This is just a tiny little space but a space to create in and a space to feel as your own,” says Storyknife Executive Director Erin Coughlin Hollowell. “We are really careful, and when the full residency is on we'll be even more careful, that the writer knows this is their space.”

Construction is planned for next summer, with the intention of opening to authors in 2020, but that didn’t slow Stabenow.

“We have been doing a mini-Storyknife,” she says. “This is the third year we will have done it because I wanted to start helping women writers sooner rather than later. I didn't want to have to wait until we got the whole thing built.”

Stabenow’s guest cabin has been used for the “test run”, hosting four authors over the last two summers.

The residency is free to authors who get accepted and they will stay typically between two to four weeks. The organizers continue to fundraise for the construction and endowment of the project to make it self-sustaining.

to learn more about Storyknife and see profiles of the authors who’ve attended so far.

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