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IRDA Winner John Gubbins: “Dead white guys filled the curricula of the schools I attended.” 

Authentic Wilderness was the winner in the Sports/Fitness/ Recreation category of the 2021 IndieReader Discovery Awards, where undiscovered talent meets people with the power to make a difference.

Following find an interview with author John Gubbins.

Published last year, John Gubbins’ new book, Authentic Wilderness begins with the loss of his family business, a rural Wisconsin restaurant. It was Winter and money and jobs were short. To save his house, Gubbins hires on the Neptune, a processing boat, working the herring season on the treacherous waters of Norton Sound and the salmon season on Bristol Bay.  Authentic Wilderness recounts life on board the Neptune: the cold, the threats from the Bering Sea, the shifting sexual alliances among the men and women crew members, and the mind numbing work.  Once the salmon season and his contract ended, Gubbins planned to fly up the Nushagak River to camp and fish the Alaskan wilderness, a world more true than false.  In that wilderness he hoped to see his flaws clearly and make a new start, and authentic beginning before returning home. The fishing company nearly thwarted his plans when it decided not to provide the crew the airplane tickets explicitly promised in their contracts. Gubbins with some of the crew mutiny and win their tickets. Camping a gravel bar on the Nushagak, his shortcomings came clear in this world more true than false, and he achieved enlightenment, his own enlightenment before returning home.

By an accident of birth, I was introduced to the novel form through the works of Hugo, Dickens, Balzac, and many others. Dead white guys filled the curricula of the schools I attended.  In middle age I decided to try my hand at writing. My first try was a mystery story which I judged frivolous after reading East of the Mountains by David Guterson.  Thenceforth, I set out to write true novels, new stories not bound by genre and the cultural expressions of the day. Now when sitting down to my computer in the morning, I work to set down clear, simple sentences laden with meaning. Real authenticity. I work about 4 hours a day. The first hour I spend editing the previous days writing. The next three hours I spend putting down what I hope is new and engaging.

Before Authentic Wilderness I wrote three novels. The first two were published by a traditional book publisherMy third Theodore Gordon was self published. Wilderness needed to be written because it explains why I started writing as well as my development as a novel writer.  If there is one book I could lay claim to as my own, I would choose Hugo’s Les Miserables, a historical novel.  Two of my books, the ones about Dame Juliana Berners and Theodore Gordon, are also historical novels.

Literary contests such as sponsored by the IndieReader sustain independent writers in their striving to write something new.  Indie writers can experiment freely, then put their work before publishing professionals for their verdict. In Authentic Wilderness I tried to incorporate more lyric passages than most novels include. The verdict of the IndieReader group was most gratifying.  I could not have experimented as I did for a traditional publishing house.

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