Eowyn Ivey can let you into the city of Palmer, Alaska. Because she has the key.

We were sorry we couldn’t make it to Alaska for Eowyn Ivey’s publication party. Luckily, she filed this report:

Like many people I know, I dreamed of escaping my hometown when I was a younger. I grew up in Palmer, Alaska, and I always felt like I knew every person around every street corner.

This week I came to an entirely new appreciation of this small town.

In celebration of the release of my debut novel, The Snow Child, I planned a party with Fireside Books where I work. We held it at the Colony Inn, one of the most historic buildings in town. Decorated with antiques and a fireplace, it seemed like the perfect place. I expected a couple dozen close friends and favorite customers from the bookstore to show up. I would visit with them, sign a few books, and have a glass or two of wine.

My expectations were blown out of the water. More than 200 people showed up, including my third grade teacher, family friends I haven’t seen in years, artists, writers and politicians, former classmates, and people I had never met before. One lifelong friend brought a Snow Child doll she had handcrafted for me. Another dear friend gave me several art images of the snow maiden, including a print I will get framed.

In the midst of signing books and hugging lots of friends, I suddenly found the mayor of the City of Palmer standing beside me with a microphone. She read a proclamation, declaring it Eowyn Ivey Day. To be honest, I was incredibly embarrassed and would have said the honor was too much. But then she presented me with a small box tied with a ribbon. Inside I found a golden key to the city. I wouldn’t give up that key for anything, even a little embarrassment.

By the end of the night, we had broken the sales record for Fireside Books, previously held by Harry Potter. As I helped the bookstore owner and my co-workers pack up empty boxes, we joked that we should go out on the town, since we theoretically now had access to the library, the government offices, and all the bars on main street.

There is so much about that night that leaves me grateful, but most of all the love and support of my small town. I never guessed it would mean this much to me.

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