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“Gaining Daylight” Wins Willa Award for Creative Non-Fiction

The following is from the Kodiak Daily Mirror:

As a library technician and a published author, Sara Loewen-Danelski knows books. She works in Kodiak College’s library, and published “Gaining Daylight: Life on Two Islands” a year and a half ago.

Now, that book has won the Willa Award for creative non-fiction.

“It was great news,” Loewen-Danelski said. “I knew some of the entrants and I really admired their books so that felt doubly exciting.”

The Willa Awards are given by Women Writing the West to the authors of women’s or girls’ stories that are set in the North American west, according to the WWW website.

The awards are named after Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Willa Cather.

One of the things that Loewen-Danelski likes about the awards is that librarians choose the winning books.

“The librarians are the judges. They’re doing the reading,” Loewen-Danelski said. “It’s neat because they have good material, you know they’re well read.”

“Gaining Daylight” is creative nonfiction about Loewen-Danelski’s experience living in Kodiak during the winters and spending summers set net fishing in Uyak Bay with her husband and children. The second island referenced in the title is Amook Island, located in Uyak Bay.

The book is made up of a 12 essays that Loewen-Danelski wrote for a graduate class while she was pursuing her master’s degree in creative nonfiction. The book weaves in natural and island history and Loewen-Danelski’s experience balancing the modern life with the more ancient way of living.

“Gaining Daylight” was published through the University of Alaska Press and is for sale here.

Reviews from Amazon include: “This book is something special,” “If you haven’t been to Kodiak, you will feel like you have after reading Gaining Daylight,” “Well written and a joy to read,” and “You want to read this book!”

Loewen-Danelski says the award has helped give her book a boost.

“The University of Alaska press is a great press, but it’s a small press, and it can’t do a lot with publicity,” Loewen-Danelski said. “But because of the Willa Award, the book gets a second life too.”

Loewen-Danelski found out about winning the award while she was out in Uyak Bay, running a skiff to Larsen Bay.

“The cell phone service popped up on my phone and the email popped up that the book had won the award,” Loewen-Danelski said. “It was kind of fun to be riding back across to our fish site, which is the focus of so many of these essays.”

Loewen-Danelski accepted the award in Colorado with her family, and she hopes to continue writing in the future.

“I think it’s a good motivation to keep writing and to make the time for writing,” she said.

Written by Julie Herrmann