Monday, May 19, 2014

Trapper Bud, Otto Lanner, and a Hint at the Tragedy Behind "Northwest Passage"

In my ongoing Twitter feed for @TrapperBud (the diaries of my grandfather when he was a trapper in the NWT in the 1930s), I've been typing in diary entries ahead of time so they are easier to slot in on TweetDeck. As I've been doing this I've been eagerly awaiting the first mention of Otto Lanner, and just the other day came across it. Otto, in case you're familiar with my short story "Northwest Passage," which was initially published in the magazine Realms of Fantasy and recently reprinted in my Sunburst-nominated collection Over the Darkened Landscape, was the inspiration for the character Swede in that story.

Another mention that came much earlier in the diaries and has already gone out there was of Emil Bode, who also figures in the same tragic sequence of events involving Otto. The inexorable march towards this is quite exciting for me to watch.

However, if you haven't read the short story, I'm not going to give it away today. I would hope you will follow the feed if you're interested, or at least check back here for notice when it comes up (and I promise to be better about using this space for this sort of thing).

What I will say is that, out of curiosity, I Googled Lanner's name and found a mention on from all the way back in May 2001, a woman in Sweden asking "My grandmother had a brother by name Otto Lanner. He came from the parish Tuna in Sweden to the state of Alaska in the beginning of the last century. I donĀ“t know if he had any children?"

I looked on Facebook and found her name and sent her a message to see if this had been the same person, and today she contacted me. It appears he was indeed her great uncle, and I've been able to fill in some gaps for her, and will be forwarding on a photo. In return, she tells me she will send some photos of Otto from the early days.

@TrapperBud continues to open up all sorts of new and exciting avenues for me, and I'm thrilled to not only fall into this small slice of family history, but to welcome others and their own offshoots of that history. We really are weaving this together, or perhaps finding shards of a mysterious and broken past that fit together in surprising ways, offering new and expanded views of what came before.

For this, I'm grateful.

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