by Anne Hanley
Anchorage Daily News
December 18, 2005

Anne Carse Nolting of Palmer has always had a thirst for history. Ever since she learned to write at age six, she has been penning stories about faraway times and places. Her latest book takes place in 100 B.C. on the Silk Road, where the nomadic Scythians control the trade routes and carefully guard the secret of making silk. Nolting grew up on a dairy farm in Vermont, where she and her five siblings staged elaborate plays and make-believe games to amuse themselves in the isolated rural surroundings. They became citizens of “Carseburg,” their own fantasy village, with its own constitution and homemade currency. At 10, Nolting dictated the story of Carseburg to her older brother, who dutifully copied it all down on a manual typewriter.

Isolation must have fed the imaginations of the Carse children, since most of them ended up doing creative things in exotic places. After graduating from the University of Vermont, Nolting followed one of her older brothers to India, where she worked as a dental hygienist in a clinic in Indore. After that, she followed another brother to Israel, where he was working on a kibbutz. When she finally came back to Vermont, she applied for a job as a dental hygienist and was hired by her future husband, who was the administrator at the clinic. When a chance to work in Alaska came up, Nolting and her husband took it. They’ve lived in Ketchikan, Sitka, Clear, and Palmer.

Nolting teaches in the Mat-Su school district’s Extended Learning Program in Palmer, where she delights in turning students on to the joys of creative writing. As a writer herself, she’s happiest when she can get lost researching a different culture, the more ancient the better. She has written an adult novel Rysaland, set in 10th-century Russia, and a young-adult book, Dear Future People, about the ancient library at Alexandria.

Here’s a short selection from Pythagoras Eagle and the Music of the Spheres, a young-adult book about a modern Koniagmiut girl trying to integrate her love for her culture and her passion for mathematics.

“Far away the shorelines and coves looked like a smooth unbroken map line. Up close they were jagged. Coves within coves. Fractus, Shawna remembered with a smile. Broken up. Last year she had learned in her geometry unit about a man called Benoit Mandelbrot. He talked about small things being repeated and then repeated again on a larger scale. It was all sort of like Grandma’s brightly painted nesting Russian eggs. One inside another inside another inside another. Clouds aren’t just flat, mountains aren’t cones, tree bark isn’t smooth. Fractals.”

Anne Hanley lives in Fairbanks and is a former Alaska state writer. Excerpt from “Pythagoras Eagle and the Music of the Spheres” by Anne Carse Nolting (Mayhaven Publishing Co.).

© 2005 Anchorage Daily News
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