VANASSE’S LIFE SO FAR
Raised at a mental hospital
Vanasse’s childhood is far from ordinary, in the shadow of the sprawling hospital where her dad works, with patients walking the grounds, each in his own little world. Deb lives in her own little world much of the time, too, reading and imagining story worlds.
From small-town Illinois to hip and happening Madison, Wisconsin, Deb’s world expands in a big way during her junior high years: sit-ins, anti-war protests, Joan Baez, tear gas.
College in Northern Minnesota introduces Vanasse to wilderness and the cold. After graduating with bachelors of science in education, she considers hopping freight trains with a friend or seeing the world as a flight attendant but opts instead for work in a remote Alaska village.
At age twenty-one, Vanasse is dropped by a bush pilot on a gravel runway in middle of the Alaska wilderness. No roads, no houses, no cars, no people—only a winding brown slough and tundra spread flat as prairie.
A letter to the editor nearly costs her job at North Pole High School (yes, Virginia, there really is a North Pole). But then she’s never been one to stay quiet when there are wrongs to be righted.
Inspired by life in a Yup’ik village — especially by her students, who mushed dogs, hunted moose, and faced dark, isolated winters — Vanasse writes first novel, A Distant Enemy.
Biggering the AK Lit Scene
Vanasse co-founds the 49 Writing Center and lights up the literary scene with Running Fox Books, a fresh, fun way to bring the best of the Great Land to readers who crave all things Alaska.
Writing Near Ice
Three years in the making, Cold Spell is the novel Vanasse had been aching to write. Her experiences in a wilderness cabin fronting a glacier, her mother’s thirteen-year disappearance, and her trials of faith drew her into a time of reflection and intense writing.
Ever the writer’s friend, Vanasse pulls from her popular, long-running Self-Made Writer Blog to create two books for independent-minded writers, What Every Author Should Know and Write Your Best Book.
Big Climb, Big Book
A grueling hike on the famed Chilkoot Trail opens the way into a three-year research project that culminates in Wealth Woman, the true story of Kate Carmack and the Klondike rush for gold. Spring 2016 release.
To the Coast!
After 36 years in Alaska, Deb moves south to the Oregon Coast. New adventures with family, friends, and a beach-loving boxer dog!
Writer. Deb’s newest project: Seal Wars: Treachery in the North PacificMarrying maritime drama and wildlife activism, Seal Wars commands a place alongside riveting historical narratives such as Nathan Philbruck’s In the Heart of the Sea and Erik Larsen’s Dead Wake.Explore WIP
Whether a writer is fine-tuning, looking for line edits, or struggling with pulling together plot, character, voice, pacing, and content, Vanasse’s expertise, experience, and wisdom have made a huge difference for authors who invest in their work.
Presenter. Writing conferences, workshops, schools, and events.
Vanasse is available for a limited number of writers’ conferences and workshops each year as well as events that promote literacy, reading, and writing. As a former teacher, she does her best to accommodate all the classroom presentations she can.
Vanasse’s Book News
- Bad Book Club new episode alerts
- Book releases & other BIG NEWS