Atwood Cutting (Unknown – Present) has written a non-fiction account of two late-20th century pioneers who “Saw the Elephant” on the last frontier, as well as several other works. For a special author alert spotlight, check out my post from September 2019.
Note: If there is an active link, I’ve completed a review.
Me thinks ’tis time to expose Atwood Cutting for what she really is: a literary device used by Kate Peters, the much older woman who pioneered during the late 20th century in Alaska and wanted to write about her experiences, but feared possible retaliation for doing so. After thirty years of self-hindering, Kate Peters determined that fictionalizing someone of the next generation could make the perfect teller of a mother’s stories. So, Kate created an “author” daughter—not to be confused with her real daughter who did actually ride home on the back of a snow-machine—to be her personal biographer to write her story. Would such a ploy provide protection from ex-neighbors who might take issue?
Bravely, the stories were penned and the saga was introduced to all readers.
All too soon, a friend, who saw an early copy of the story, commented on the photo of the author at the back of the book. “You don’t look like this,” he challenged.
“I used to look like that. Now, I look like my grandmother,” old Mrs. Peters rued.
It was obvious that the real Kate Peters would not be able to publicly masquerade as a fetching young authoress. Kate would have to become two people: the fictional and shy young author of a nearly-true saga about life and circumstances her parents encountered at the end of their remote Alaskan road; and the older woman, who actually lived the tale, “saw the elephant,” and is still alive to share her stories with interested listeners. In our modern social media world, projecting such a double-identity has proven to be quite complicated. How can one communicate honestly with people, and not have them realize that she is not the young author, but rather a much older gal who has lived an interesting life, and loves to share stories and simple wisdoms with others?
Through the kindness of James Cudney and his invitation to participate in his Author Alert series, I can now elucidate that I am both the mother and the daughter; the pioneer and the artist; the young dreamer as well as the aging survivor of an actual Last Frontier “elephant” sighting.
By saying this, I am blowing my cover. But hopefully this public interaction with Jay will make things clearer for everyone, myself included. So, here is my true story:
I stood at the threshold of my life adventure back in 1972, when, as college graduates we were being honored at a Phi Beta Kappa dinner. During the event, each graduate was asked what they were going to do next? One stated that he was going to be a doctor. One, a lawyer. One, a professor, etc. When they got to me, I could only say, “I don’t know.”
A year later, disregarding the recently earned degree in Dance, Vocal Music and Theatre, I opted to avoid any fame to be earned playing the lead role in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” and instead took a quick dodge to the left. I ventured north to Alaska, where I met and married a man who harbored a rustic pioneering dream. This jibed with my own Emerson-inspired vision of self-reliance, and I followed his lead. Together we worked on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline construction project and saved up a good nest egg. Then we settled at the end of a remote mountain road near Sleeping Moose, Alaska. That’s where the saga begins.
* * *
As you might imagine, my work history was varied, and I never found a career. Museums, mental health clinics, universities, plant nurseries and elementary schools all called me “an employee,” but no one ever offered me tenure.
When I retired at 62, my sister urged me to write my story of life on the Last Frontier, and the next five years reignited a long-abandoned love for wordsmithing. To date, I have managed to self-publish and indie-publish several versions of my story, as well as a few coffee table photo books. They are all available on Amazon today, but revenues have been slow to come in. That’s okay. I’m content with my children happy, my husband wonderful, and my view spectacular.
* * *
And what of the future? When all three volumes of SLEEPING MOOSE SAGA have been published, and Kate’s story has been told, Atwood Cutting will be free to create her art, and Kate will allow herself to be old. She intends to continue to use her talents to delight others, by singing, sharing in humor, watching the glory of a setting sun and reflecting on life, as well as her own great fortune. Meanwhile, Atwood plans to be producing books of beautiful photography “until the cows come home.”
So, after following the road “less traveled by” for most of a lifetime, Kate Peters has arrived at a state of contentment. Thanatopsis.
And how have the doctors and lawyers and professors at that long-ago collegiate table fared? Hopefully, just as well.
A younger Kate, primed to find her truth in nature
Thank you, James J. Cudney IV for this opportunity to gather my thoughts and prepare for today’s chat. Radio interview on FM KCME 88.7 in Colorado Springs. Interview taped 12/15 airs MST (mountain time) on “Culture Zone” 12/31/17 at 5:00 PM and again on 1/1/18 at 7:00 PM. Check out KCME 88.7 FM and kcme.org.
Links To Learn More About This Great Author