Find The Good is Haines’ Heather Lende’s third book. Like her other books, it focuses on life in small town Alaska. The message is upbeat and meant to help readers make lemonade out of the sour lemons of life. Alaska author John Straley describes it as a tonic for a cynical world.
Her work has been on NPR, Christian Science Monitor and other national publications. Find the Good from Algonquin Books has already sold out of its first printing before its official release date.
But in Haines, Lende is just “Heather” to most people. She’s on the borough’s planning commission. Her family owns a lumberyard. She takes great pride in her role as grandmother now, dedicating the new book to the five grandchildren. I know her because she’s involved at the radio station – including, for full disclosure, on the station’s board of directors. We also occasionally walk our dogs together on the beach.
She’s best known here as local obituary writer, summarizing the highlights of people’s lives into a few inches of newsprint. That’s how Find the Good came about – by pondering life and death.
Many of her out-of-state fans pour over her details of small town Alaska – the tight knit community, the picturesque fishing town and subsistence lifestyle. She says it’s not always as easy to live it as it is to write about it.
While it may not come out in this book, Lende does occasionally use her prose to bring more sober issues to light. Like when she called out the police chief for avoidance of an open conversation of suicide. That column was published in the Alaska Dispatch newspaper. It discussed suicide as a way to bring awareness to the issue and acknowledge the pain the family and friends feel.
It can be difficult to write about in a small town. But Lende tries to illuminate – like she does in her book – the bright spots in a person’s life.
There’s a lot more Lende has to say about her writing, her book and living life as a best-selling author in a small town including if she’s ever given thought to her own obituary.
A launch party for Find the Good is set for April 28th at the Haines public library, although the book is already available for order and in bookstores. Lende will be traveling throughout Alaska and western Washington and Oregon on tour starting in May.
Here are more excerpts from our interview with Heather Lende.