Q & A with Sherry Shahan: ICE ISLAND


I’d like to invite Sherry Shahan to share some information about her book, ICE ISLAND. Welcome Sherry!

AOB: What is the title of your book? Pub date and publisher?

ICE ISLAND (Random House/Yearling, 2013)

AOB: Who is your key dog character and what kind of dog is he/she? Tell us a little more about him/her.

* Bandit is a mixed breed Alaskan husky retired from the famed 1,049-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska.

AOB: In 70 words or less, provide a succinct plot description of your story.

* What begins as a training run with sled dogs turns into a race against time for Tatum and her new friend, a Siberian Yupik boy named Cole. When a freak blizzard hits this remote island off the coast of Alaska, the duo seeks shelter overnight in a dilapidated hunting cabin.

Their harrowing ordeal goes from bad to worse when wind-driven snow forces them to risk an alternate route. Stranded five days in the untamed wilderness, the pair must rely on each other — as well as their faithful huskies — to survive sub-zero temperatures and bone-numbing exhaustion. Worse still, their food supply is running dangerously low.

The most daunting decision comes when the strongest dog runs away. One person will have to go for help. And one will have to stay behind. Either way, they’ll both be alone in the wild for an uncertain amount of time.

AOB: Starred reviews or blurbs you wish to share:

Kirkus: “Riveting and atmospheric, this is a tale of teenage Tatum, who becomes lost and separated from her friend on an Alaskan island with only a team of dogs, a few supplies and her instincts to keep her alive. As a race for survival, this is also an exhilarating sprint through the pages. . . . ”

School Library Journal: “Shahan knows her territory well and vividly describes the landscape’s stark beauty and Tatum’s sense of isolation. Heroic dogs, danger, and an accessible writing style add cross-gender appeal.

Booklist: “. . . readers attuned to the call of the wild will gobble it down like the frozen caribou strips and turkey-skin treats that keep Tatum’s dogs running.”

Sherry Shahan with DogsAOB: What inspired you to write this story?

I was inspired to write Ice Island after visiting St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. This remote island lies west of the mainland of Alaska in the Bering Sea — about 230 miles southwest of Nome. Yet it’s less than 40 miles from Russia. I was startled by the sight of polar bear hides drying on racks, and amused by children playing with large chunks of ice, stacking them like blocks. I remember thinking, Some day I’ll use these details in a story.

AOB: What was the biggest challenge you had writing your story? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge was deciding what historical facts about the Iditarod to include in the novel, and which ones to leave out. Fortunately, I have an astute editor who helped me with these very difficult decisions.

AOB: What other YA/MG books have you written? Do any of them feature a key dog character? If so, which ones? AOB: What are these stories about?

DEATH MOUNTAIN (Peachtree) is an adventure novel based on a terrifying near-death experience. My backpacking group was caught in a deadly electrical storm on an exposed ridge. What sets this story apart from other adventure novels is that the two main characters are teen girls. They’re forced to face the challenges of being lost in the untamed wilderness with grit and resourcefulness.  Their dog is a loveable Australian Shepherd named Sequoia.

AOB: What kind of story can we expect next from you? Is it about a dog? If so, what is it about?

I just signed a contract with Whitman for a YA novel set in an eating disorders unit of a hospital. SKIN AND BONES is scheduled for Spring 2014.

Sherry Shaha Author PhotoAOB: What else would you like us to know about you or your story?

I’m a longtime photographer and travel writer. Adventures have put me inside a dog sled for the first part of the 1,049 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska, on horseback in Africa’s Maasailand, hiking a leech-infested rain forest in Australia, snorkeling with penguins in the Galapagos and more.

*AOB: Can you remember the first book that made an impact on you? And why?

When my two daughters were reading Judy Blume’s books I thought I’d like to try writing for children. Up until then, I’d been writing for adults.

If you’d like to learn more about Sherry Shahan, her books and her adventures please click here.

Thank you for taking time with us Sherry Shahan. We look forward to reading your next book.


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