Kim Heacox said the decision to become a photographer was made easy in 1983 when a magazine paid him $300 for a story, and his friend $900 for the photos that went with it.
Since then, the author — based in Gustavus, a small takeoff town for Glacier Bay in Southeast Alaska — has been using photography to supplement his longstanding writing career, which surged again in 2015 with the release of three works: the novel “Jimmy Bluefeather,” the memoir “Rhythm of the Wild: A Life Inspired by Alaska’s Denali National Park,” and the biography “John Muir and the Ice That Started a Fire: How a Visionary and the Glaciers of Alaska Changed America.”
Heacox will next bring his stories to an audience at Kenai Peninsula College as part of the school’s showcase series in “An Evening with Author Kim Heacox.”
He will present at 6:30 p.m., Monday in the McLane Commons at the college.
Much of Heacox’s writing is inspired by the time he has spent working as a ranger at Denali National Park and Glacier Bay National Park.
“We all came into Glacier Bay inspired by John Muir,” Heacox said of himself and the other rangers.
Discovering that he might not be able to thrive on seasonal work, Heacox said he felt his other choice was to move to Juneau.
“Well, Joe Juneau is not John Muir,” he said. “Well, that never sat well with me.”
Instead, Heacox made a long and lucrative career as a photographer and writer, which has included work for National Geographic.
Much of his work touches on the natural world and the importance of conservation, a topic he said he is surprised more Alaskan authors aren’t taking advantage of. Some of his writing tackles the issue more directly, while books like “Jimmy Bluefeather” bring it to the reader’s attention more subtly, Heacox said.
“I can’t write anything that doesn’t address our relationship to our natural world and the unraveling of the natural world,” he said.
When it came to “Jimmy Bluefeather,” Heacox said his goal was to write a unique, central Alaskan character in a way other Alaskan writers had not yet done.
His broader goal, though, is to make the environment and the problems facing it present in people’s minds, through his work and through opportunities like his upcoming talk.
“I want to wake Alaska up … I don’t want to say about all the things we shouldn’t do, I want to talk about all the things that we can and should do,” Heacox said. “I do think that we’re sleepwalking into the future and that we only have a limited window of time, we believe, in which we can really do something about it.”
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