To say that Julie Ewashen is enjoying her run as a children’s author is probably an understatement.
In just over three years, her tale inspired by a photo of a polar bear playing with a sled dog, has taken her to places she might not have expected and helped forge unexpected connections.
The original Life in the Arctic with Nina & Nikita has been a hit with children and adults alike, and it has undergone several changes, including the title itself.
“My German publisher is also a writer and he suggested a title change, because the story’s focus is on Nina,” she said.
German publisher? Yes. The newly titled Life in the Arctic with Nina has now been published in three other languages. But more about that later.
Since publishing the original late in 2013, Ewashen has used her travels to promote the book (even placing five copies in the famous Shakespeare & Company bookstore in Paris, and used the book to promote her personal travels (she and her husband, Alex, spent their 50th wedding anniversary in Churchill, Manitoba, world-renowned for its polar bear population, where she left 100 books with various sellers.)
She has even learned that the dog in the photo that inspired her book was not, as she first thought, an Alaskan Husky.
The new printing, which was delivered last week, corrects the error.
“I was informed that it is actually a breed called the Canadian Eskimo Sled Dog,” she laughed.
Back to the international editions. A professor she had met years ago at the University of Calgary found her a German translator, a retired University of Victoria professor, who agreed to help with a German edition.
“He refused to accept money for his work because he really liked the story,” Ewashen said. “He even put me in touch with a publisher in Germany.”
Eventually the German edition, Nina, die Eisbärin: Abenteuer in der Arktis, was published, in hardcover.
She gets an annual royalty payment for sales within Germany, and can sell the book herself in other countries.
“I took it to the International Book Fair in Leipzig, Germany,” she added.
After the Russian translation was complete, she had a friend who worked for Interior Health (Ewashen is a retired nurse) proofread it.
“He suggested changing Nina’s name to a different one in Russian.”
A French translation came from a connection of her friend, the late Nicole Nilsson.
“He also was very kind, and gave me a lower rate,” she smiled.
Selling books, for all but an elite few, has fallen primarily to authors in recent years.
“I am selling most of them by myself, although Chapters has sold quite a few of the English version,” she said. She often joins Alex at the Creston Valley Farmers’ Market, selling her book alongside his memoir.
“I also want to go to some French and Russian communities in Canada,” she said. “I have sold some of the Russian versions to immersion schools in Grand Forks, and I hope to do the same with the French translation.”
“I think my grandson is going to help me with getting into sales on the Internet, too, through Amazon and Kindle.”
Ewashen is quick to point out that she has had lots of help in her foray into the book-writing business, from friends, friends of friends, as well as the Kootenay Cultural Alliance.
“And Nadine Riehl (the book’s illustrator) has been wonderful to work with,” Ewashen said. “She redid the artwork for the translations and the new printing, and I can’t thank her enough for the work she has put into this.”