Alaska, United States
Washington Post Notable Fiction of 2013
The Washington Post declares: The Raven's Gift by "master of the cliffhanger" Don Rearden is a blend of "hunter-hunted suspense of Geoffrey Household's “Rogue Male,” the post-apocalyptic bleakness of Cormac McCarthy's“The Road” and the haunting mysteriousness of “ The X-Files."
Bio: Don Rearden’s family moved to a Yupik village in remote rural Alaska when he was just nine years old. He was the first white boy to live in the small, one telephone village in several decades. Immersed in the Yupik culture at such a young age was magical for him. Here the people still relied on the land for their food, surviving off salmon, moose, waterfowl, and caribou, and they still spoke their language. Just across the river from the community sat a cluster of old abandoned houses, as if the occupants had left at a moment’s notice, leaving their valuables behind. People avoided the old homes and the contents for fear of being haunted by those who had once lived there.
This was the very real and yet mystical place where Don grew up. He learned to love the stories of survival, ghosts and monsters, and the rules about how to live as human beings. Enthralled with the stories, he started writing and knew he wanted to become a writer by second grade.
At the same time he was learning about the land and the culture he began to realize the heavy losses occurring around him. The culture was quickly disappearing, and his friends were dying at their own hands.
His family lived in a couple of villages along the Kuskokwim River, and then they finally settled in the tiny tundra town of Bethel. This is where Don graduated from high school in 1993, and returned to teach high school English, one year after a tragic school shooting that claimed the lives of the principal and a basketball star.
Don taught for four years, with awards recognizing his coaching of a championship Native Youth Olympics team. He taught during the summers as an outdoor leadership and survival instructor. He moved on to complete graduate school with an MFA from the University of Alaska Anchorage, where he now teaches English. Don has devoted much of his life to helping Alaska Native youth and is committed to continuing that work. At age 38, he estimates he’s lost well over thirty friends and former students to suicide, and half as many to accidents involving alcohol or drugs. He believes creativity and stories can help inspire and bring hope to the rural communities struggling to retain their culture and for their very survival.
Don is currently the founding board of director President of the 49 Alaska Writing Center, a non-profit organization committed to bringing creative writing opportunities to Alaskan writers and youth. He is a produced screenwriter and entertaining speaker and storyteller. He is an Associate Professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage and lives in the mountain community of Bear Valley, just outside of Anchorage.
- The Raven's Gift , Penguin USA (June 25, 2013)
- Alaska Professional Communicators Novel of the Year(2012)
- National Federation of Press Women Novel Award (Runner-up)(2012)
- Washington Post Notable Fiction of 2013(2013)
- Associate Professor at University of Alaska Anchorage (August 2005 - )
- Board President at 49 Alaska Writers (January 2010 - )
- Master of Fine Arts in Fiction from University of Alaska Anchorage (May 2005)
Genres of Interest
Fiction, Creative nonfiction, Playwriting, Screenwriting, Poetry