Signing Time!

After several years of researching, writing, and editing, I’m excited to announce the birth of my latest book: The Queen of Fairbanks: Extraordinary Family Secrets & Untold Stories of America’s Farthest North Bag Lady.

Irene, 1966 (NewsMiner Archives)

Irene Sherman was well known in Fairbanks, especially if you lived there in the last half of the twentieth century. She was brash and loud, and walked or biked her three-wheeler as she greeted friends, new and old. Wearing layers of old clothes, usually topped with a parka, even in the summer’s heat, Irene was a sight. Further, it was clear that she’d been badly burned at some point. Scars covered her face and hands, the only visible parts of her body. Overs the years, many had repeated rumors of how she was scarred, why she was so forcefully friendly, and where she went at the end of each day. In 1988, I followed Irene as a freelance journalist and with Anchorage Daily News photographer Erik Hill, found answers and dissolved rumors. The resulting magazine piece appeared in both the Fairbanks and Anchorage Sunday magazines. Thirty years later, Irene and her history barged into my life again when a long-lost relative of hers emailed me out of the blue. What she had to say, what I was to learn, engrossed me for the next several years. And now it is a tangible book holding part-memoir, part-mystery, part-history, and lots of biography. In short it is the story of a community that loved and watched over this woman in the margins. She is still fondly remembered by most who shared the town she loved.

The book launch is scheduled for Saturday, May 25, 2024, from noon to 5 p.m. at the Fairbanks Community/Dog-Mushing Museum in downtown Fairbanks. The museum can be found inside the Co-Op Plaza at 535 Second Avenue. Our host will be offering snacks and drinks, and lots of conversation as I sign books and hear even more stories about Irene.

I’m bringing along a selection of my other books as well and can take all forms of payment. I hope you’ll come by!

ISBN 978-0-9657676-1-3; 6″x 9″, 304 pp, 93 b/w photos; 3 maps

Other appearances:

Sun., May 26 Pioneer Museum, 9 a.m.-noon, Pioneer Park, 2300 Airport Way, Fairbanks

Thurs., June 6 Title Wave Books, noon-3 p.m., 1360 W. Northern Lights Blvd., Anchorage

Sat., June 8 Forget-Me-Not Books, noon-3 p.m., 517 Gaffney Rd., Fairbanks

Pioneer Museum, 3:30-5:30 p.m. Pioneer Park, Fairbanks

Thurs., July 18 University of Alaska Museum of the North lobby, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., on

the UAF Campus, 1962 Yukon Drive, Fairbanks

Fri., July 19 University of Alaska Fairbanks Campus Day festivities; call UAF Alumni

Relations for signing location: (907) 474-7081, or text (907) 891-8162

Sat., July 20 GOLDEN DAYS STREET FAIR! I’ll be set up in my usual booth space next to the First Family statue in Golden Heart Plaza on First Avenue by the Chena River. It’s an all-day affair, and I’ll have plenty of Irene Sherman books as well as many more of your favorite titles. Watch for my banner advertising “The Queen of Fairbanks.” We’re looking forward to the day.

Sat., Aug. 17 Noel Wien Library Auditorium, 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., 1215 Cowles Street, Fairbanks. (907) 459-1020. In my talk and PowerPoint presentation, I’ll give a behind-the-scenes look at researching and writing “The Queen of Fairbanks.” I’ll share Irene Sherman’s story as well as my work methods, and the many surprises I encountered while looking into her lifeline. A book-signing will follow.

Other signings in Anchorage are in the works now. Also, I expect to visit Juneau and Ketchikan for a similar presentation at their public libraries in early fall. I hope to visit a few schools with my children’s books while I’m traveling through Southeast.

Will keep you posted asap!

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