Local romance writer bites into the vampire market

Mike Dunham

Alaska romance author Jackie Ivey is expanding her oeuvre to include the blood-sucking genre. She's already become one of the most widely read writers from the state, at least in terms of worldwide distribution.

"My print books are now in Thai, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Spanish, French... I think that's it," she wrote in a email.

The Portuguese title of Ivey's "Heat of the Knight," one in her series of bodice-rippers set in Scotland in the 1700s, translates as "Fearless Knight." The bio on the back describes her as a "wife, mother and businesswoman" who creates "beautiful love stories" from history "em sua casa em Anchorage, no Alasca."

Her next Highland fling, "A Perfect Knight for Love," will come out in September and yet another, "A Knight Like No Other," will hit the shelves in 2013.

Ivey's books have been finalists for national awards in the historical/romance world. She's gained enough attention to have her tale, "A Knight Beyond Black," included in "Highland Hunger," sharing the credit with New York Times best-selling author Hannah Howell and Michele Sinclair. The subject of that three-story "paranormal romance" volume, a finalist in the 2012 Booksellers Best Awards even though it won't be on shelves for a few more months, is Scottish vampires. Howell's made quite a good living working that material, which may have inspired Ivey to take a big step into the mysterious world of Internet literature.

"I also write a series of vampire stories on ebooks that have been on the 100 top best-selling anthologies list on Amazon for over a year now," she said. The "Vampire Assassin League" series began with her trademark pun title, "Knight after Night," but has expanded beyond the lochs and firths to include Vikings, ninjas and other kiltless action characters.

"I usually have five of them on the list," she writes. Number seven, "Forever as One," went up in June. The eighth in the series, "Should There Be," is due this month. They cost 99 cents to download -- which is almost worth it for the cover blurbs alone. The one on number five ("Together to Join") reads "We Kill for Profit: No Refunds, No Exchanges."

Arts, laureate nominations sought

Nominations are now open for the 2012-2014 Alaska State Writer Laureate and Governor's Awards for the Arts.

The laureate position is open to Alaska writers from all genres who, throughout their careers, have demonstrated literary excellence and mastery in style, form, and genre; exemplary professionalism and exceptional talent in published works; service to Alaska communities and a commitment to the advancement of the literary arts in Alaska, a history of providing public presentations or teaching and a significant body of published work in Alaska.

The Alaska State Council on the Arts will review the nominations and select the new State Writer Laureate, who will be announced at the Governor's Awards for the Arts and Humanities to be held at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage on Oct. 18.

The Governor's Awards fall into the following categories: Arts Education, Individual Artist, Arts Organization and Native Arts. Eligibility is open to any individual, organization or institution that has made a significant contribution to the arts in Alaska (with the exception of current council members, staff or prior award recipients).

Nomination forms are available on the council's website. For more information, contact the Alaska State Council on the Arts at 269-6610 or toll-free outside Anchorage, 888-278-7424.

Deadline for nominations is Aug. 31.

Teen photographer wins national prize

McNeel Mann is the winner in the age 13-15 category of the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery first annual Teen Portrait Competition. Mann, age 14, won with a black-and-white close-up profile titled "Alma Seco."

One grand-prize winner and 10 honorable mentions were chosen from each age category: ages 13-15 and ages 16-17. Allen Chiu, a 17-year-old from California, won first place in the older category.

Grand-prize winning photographs will be displayed at the National Portrait Gallery in the spring of 2013. The 20 honorable-mention photographs will be featured in an online exhibition at npgteenportrait.org. Mann's picture can also be seen on that site.

Anchorage students win scholarships

Violinist Anna Clink and cellist Keeon Guzman, both from Anchorage, are among the winners of Emerson Scholarships to this summer's arts program at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan.

The prestigious camp brings about 2,500 students together for intensive training in music, dance and art each year. Of those, only 43 are awarded all-expense-paid scholarships from the Emerson Corporation. Clink and Guzman will be joined by eight other Alaska teens accepted in the program.

Though far from home, the north Michigan setting may feel a lot like a summer in Alaska (well, probably hotter than this Alaska summer). A press release from the camp promises that participants will sleep in rustic cabins, canoe, swim and "swat mosquitoes."

You can view a video of student camp life and art programs at Interlochen.

Hollywood note on Alaska air tragedy

A couple of weeks back, I helped dig up some history regarding the crash of a C-124 transport plane in the Chugach Mountains in 1952. The tragedy claimed the lives of 52 servicemen en route to Anchorage.

The wreck was initially located after a massive search, but efforts to recover bodies were thwarted by winter storms that quickly buried all signs. It came back into the news when debris reemerged from a glacier flow that has been slowly carrying it downhill for the past 70 years.

Among the casualties was one minor celebrity, Lt. Col. Lawrence S. Singleton, a dentist stationed at Fort Richardson. (Many of the men on the flight were medical personnel.) Friends said he had been taking steps to start what would have been Anchorage's first orthodontic practice after his service ended.

What caught the national media's attention at the time was Singleton's former wife, actress Penny Singleton. Penny Singleton played the part of Blondie Bumstead in a series of 28 movies based on the popular comic strip. The "Blondie" films were arguably the most successful transfer of a cartoon to cinema ever, our recent celluloid flock of costumed heroes notwithstanding.

At the time of the crash, Singleton was the producer of the Jack Benny and Burns and Allen television shows. In the decades that followed, she took occasional on-camera roles and by all reports retained the shapely legs worthy of a 1940s pin-up girl until the day she died -- Nov. 12, 2003.

But many of us are more familiar with her pipes than with her gams. She was the voice of Jane Jetson in both the television series and the film.

She was born Marianna McNulty in 1908. Though she divorced Lawrence Singleton in 1939, shortly after landing the Blondie role, she retained his last name, the name by which she was known to millions of fans. The name that popped up again when bits of the old C-124 were spotted on the ice of the Chugach last month.

Reach Mike Dunham at mdunham@adn.com or 257-4332.

Blog: Art Snob
Anchorage Daily News