River Meets Wolf

What do a river and a wolf have in common? Not much, except that they are both part of nature. Yukon authors Kay Deborah Linley and Kathryn Couture wrote books about a kayaking tour, as well as a fantasy series about wolves. Now they are bringing together their themes in an upcoming event: The River and the Wolves: Book readings by Kay Deborah Linley and Kathryn Couture will take place at Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture (KIAC) in Dawson on November 30 at 7 p.m.

Both writers were neighbours and became friends when Linley lived on the west side of Dawson. The two writers are both inspired by the wilderness around them. It was healing for Linley to connect with her surroundings while kayaking on a journey of 1,000 kilometres from Atlin to Dawson City. She is already on a book tour, which is retracing her kayak journey. The tour kicked off in Atlin, then moved to Tagish and Whitehorse and is now ending in Dawson where there will be live music after the readings.

Linley’s kayak journey was life changing, she said. “The visceral experience of journeying alone in the wilderness and physically pushing myself past my limits left me feeling more integrated and whole. I remember people noticing something different about me upon my return to town. People said I seemed ‘good.’”

That wasn’t the case before she started kayaking. Linley was burnt-out and dealing with personal trauma, which she refers to in her book but doesn’t go into detail. After completing her trip, she felt like she had a truer perspective of her life and knew what mattered and what was distraction. A few months after she completed the trip, she finished her first painting reflecting on the experience.

“I remember, off the cuff, saying to my partner Jeremy, ‘I’m going to write a book about the trip!’ At that time, I had no idea how much work it would be and did not realize there was a steep learning curve ahead.”

But the idea and desire clicked and sank in and didn’t go away, no matter how difficult it was, at times, for Linley. “One thing I was certain about was there was no turning back. And here I am today, seventeen paintings and two hundred and fifty pages later, with my fully realized dream.”

Linley was born in England, in 1984, and moved with her family to British Columbia when she was three and a half years old. She now lives in Atlin with her partner Jeremy. She is a painter and said that she has always written poems and stories. “Creative expression, through writing and art, felt and still feels like the easiest way for me to connect with others. I am a bit of a recluse otherwise. I remember really enjoying writing short stories throughout junior high school. My friend and I would illustrate them. In a way, not much has changed,” she said.

Couture, author of Indomitable 1: The Last Wolf, will be accompanying Linley in Dawson and will be reading from the first of her series, The Lost Wolf, and from her recent release The Blackstone. She is running a kennel and founded her own publishing company, Dogfish Books. In a recent interview, Kathryn Couture said she was turned off by writing one proposal after another to publishing houses that were far from the Yukon. Especially up here, where there is limited capacity for internet and cell phone service (she lives with her family off the grid, close to Dawson City). She is writing a book series that she is publishing in her own company, which is publishing her books only, at present, but said she will share advice on publishing books whenever she is asked to do so.

What inspired her series was the world around her: the landscape, people and animals. “Many cultures around the world have stories of animals who could shift into people and interact with humans, and I just started asking myself what if they really could?” In her novel, the young musher, Logan, has the ability to talk to animals. When he was 17 years old, he was selected to be part of an expedition to the territory’s remote North Coast. Past attempts were all met with disaster. Like her hero Logan, Couture is a musher. She has her own team of huskies, all of whom she raised from puppyhood. She knows what she writes about. Couture lives with family and with her dogs outside of Dawson.

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