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MEET STEFAN JACOB
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Stikine Wild - The Wilderness Years - Second Edition: Raising Our Family In The Canadian/Alaskan Wilderness
by Stefan Jacob
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Can you share a bit about your background and how it has influenced your writing?
I have written a journal most of my life, and spent many years homesteading in the wilderness of Northwest BC, Canada, near the Alaskan ‘panhandle’ SE of Juneau. After many years of living and raising a family in the wilderness, we returned to civilization, and I wanted to preserve that experience for others with my writing and photography. The following is a short overview:
The Place at the End of
All Roads was called Glenora, Beside
the Stikine River. The dirt road simply ended on the rocky shore of the
river. Past that point, for hundreds of miles to the south, west, and north,
there were no roads and no people until the river finally reached Alaska, 150
miles away. It was there and beyond where we lived and raised our family for
In late winter, we drove into the village of Telegraph Creek, BC, the most remote community in British Columbia, Canada, near Alaska. The town had no electricity, telephone, or television and was 400 miles (700 km) by dirt and gravel road from the nearest town with a supermarket – a twelve-hour drive each way.
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At the end of the road in Glenora, twelve miles beyond Telegraph Creek, we left our van by the frozen river and went 17 miles (25 km) further down the river on the ice, to live in a tiny 8X10 foot abandoned log cabin homestead. This is the story of our life in the Stikine wilderness, raising a family of three children, creating our own electricity, growing vegetables for the town and eventually helping develop a salmon fishery in the Stikine River wilderness – 150 road-less miles down the Stikine River to Wrangell Alaska.
The in-river commercial fishery created an international conflict between Canada and Alaska, since Alaska didn't want to share the salmon. I represented the Canadian Stikine River fishermen along with a representative from the Tahltan Tribal Council (the local first nation people of the Stikine region) at the salmon treaty talks. Together they helped find a compromise based on co- managing the salmon stocks with Alaska, eventually creating more salmon for both countries. This formed the basis for the Trans-boundary Salmon Treaty.
This book chronicles our personal adventure in the Canadian wilderness, and also tells the largely unwritten history of the conflict between Alaska and Canada over the fishing rights to the salmon spawned in the river, and the future role of the Tahltan First Nation people controlling their own salmon resources. Later I co-managed the commercial in-river fishery with the Tahltan First Nation, which led to many other adventures and an unexpected conclusion.
The story is both a personal memoir of our family’s adventure, and a snapshot of that time and place in the history of this remote region of the country.
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What inspired you to become an author?
The desire to document the extraordinary experiences. Whenever I told people about that life and many events, people were fascinated and asked me to write about it.
What is your latest book about, and what inspired its story?
This is the only full-length book that I have written and published. I have written many shorter works, but have yet to publish them.
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Can you walk us through your research process for this book?
I kept copious notes and photographs, chronicling the many years we lived there, and I represented the Stikine River fishermen at the International Salmon Treaty negotiations between Canada and the USA.
Could you describe your typical writing routine?
I write best and most productively in long, uninterrupted times. Often late at night.
How do you approach character development and world-building in your writing?
Many of the people in my stories were in themselves ‘larger than life.’ I often find real life more interesting than fiction. Many people who have read my book tell me that it was one of the most interesting books that they have ever read, including writers. I have had over 300 reviews on Amazon with a 4.2 average rating.
Do you experience writer’s block, and if so, how do you overcome it?
Mostly not. I wait till I am called to write, then it just flows out of me, nonstop.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your writing career?
Learning how to interface with Kindle by myself, and publishing. When I found out that most publishers wanted exclusive access to my book for 6-12 months, and then only accepted only 2-4% of submissions, I chose to go with Kindle self-publish.
What do you consider your greatest achievement as an author?
Conveying the feeling of being there with me. Many have told me that they came with me.
How has reader feedback influenced your writing, if at all?
I added a powerful lead in, cut back on words and forced myself to be more succinct.
What do you hope readers take away from your book?
To feel the experience we had, and to feel the vast beauty of the wilderness.
Which authors or books have had a significant impact on you and your writing?
Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, many books of true life Alaskan and Canadian wilderness adventures, The Call of the Wild and many stories by Jack London, and numerous other adventure classics.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Inhabit your story! Put 110% of yourself into the experience and become part of your story.
What are some common misconceptions about being an author?
I can only speak for myself.
Are you currently working on any new projects? Can you give us a sneak peek?
Chronicling seven days riding the rails across the USA in the mid 60’s, gathering other short stories that I have written into a collection, and possibly getting Stikine Wild made into a movie (filmed on site with some of the most magnificent mountain scenery in North America that most people have never seen. Oh, also traveling overland from Europe to India and Nepal filled with many deep and meaningful events and some near death experiences
What has writing taught you about yourself?
That I have had a rich, wonderful life which people love having me share with them.
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Amidst the chaos, medical saviors stepped in, reviving her on the spot and employing a ventilator, a technique known as 'bagging,' to breathe life into her still body. The urgency was palpable as she was rushed to ICU, her life hanging by a thread on life support.
The night was far from over; at 3:27 a.m., Kelly's heart faltered again, succumbing to another cardiac arrest. This time, her mother, Melissa Caudle, bore witness to this heart-wrenching ordeal, oddly, she was on the phone with her best friend. Through the phone, her best friend Tina's voice was a beacon of calm in the storm, as Melissa watched, engulfed in agony and despair, the medical team's relentless efforts to revive her daughter.
Each time the chilling question, "Does she have a pulse?" was met with a devastating "No pulse," Melissa's world crumbled a little more. Time seemed to stand still, each minute stretching into an eternity of fear and prayer. By some miracle, the medical team managed to restart Kelly’s heart, but her battle was far from over. Her body was on the brink, with failing organs, which now included being put on dialysis, a collapsed lung, a cracked rib, and a fever climbing dangerously high.
As dawn approached, her parents were summoned for the most heart-wrenching conversation. The doctor painted a grim picture - total organ failure, the need for dialysis, life support barely keeping her tethered to this world, and she would most likely pass within hours. The family was called to gather, preparing for the worst. A global prayer chain ignited, holding onto hope against hope. Her children, her siblings, one rushing from California, converged in a solemn vigil, offering prayers and tearful goodbyes.
In those moments, the fragility of life and the unyielding strength of love were profoundly felt, as Kelly, our beloved, fought a battle that seemed insurmountable, if not impossible, surrounded by the prayers and heartache of all who cherished her.
In the shadow of despair, where hope seemed like a distant memory, something extraordinary happened. Kelly, whose life hung by a thread, began to defy every odd stacked against her. Each day, we witnessed a testament to the human spirit's resilience as prayers were answered. She transitioned from a state of grave danger to one of critical stability, a beacon of hope in the darkest hour.
Seventy-two hours into this journey of uncertainty, the medical team faced a pivotal moment – testing Kelly for complete brain function. The moment she was removed from the mechanical breaths that had sustained her, she drew her first unaided breath in what felt like an eternity. However, the path ahead remained shrouded in uncertainty – the potential brain damage, the loss of motor functions, the unanswered questions that haunted our every thought.
In a heart-wrenching turn, Kelly's fight intensified. She ceased breathing again, necessitating her return to life support. In the days that followed, she endured two more cardiac arrests, each a terrifying dance with mortality, yet each time, her pulse returned, as if guided by the relentless prayers enveloping her.
Then, in what can only be described as a series of small miracles, Kelly began to show remarkable signs of recovery. One by one, the machines that had been her lifeline were removed – the breathing apparatus, the dialysis machine, and finally, the medications that kept her in a deep sleep. With each passing day, she started to exhibit purposeful movements – a tangible sign of her fighting spirit.
The true measure of her progress came in the form of simple, yet profound responses. She began to track movements, respond to pain, hold up a peace sign with her fingers, and most heartbreakingly, a smile would grace her face at the sight of her family's pictures and videos. Initially, recognition eluded her for her mother, father, and sisters – a poignant reminder of the journey still ahead. But, in an instant filled with pure, tearful joy, she recognized her children, ages 8 and 13, from their pictures and videos of their summer swim meets.
In those moments, we were reminded of the incredible power of love and family – a bond not even the deepest trials could sever. Kelly's journey, marked by struggle, resilience, and an unyielding will to survive, became a testament to the miracles that faith, hope, and relentless love can bring.
On a chilly November morning, the 22nd of 2023, Kelly embarked on a new chapter in her arduous journey toward recovery. She was transferred to a skilled nursing rehabilitation facility, a place where she would face a challenging yet hopeful path of occupational, speech, and physical therapy, coupled with counseling in a multi-disciplinary approach. The aftermath of her cardiac arrests had left indelible marks – struggles with short-term memory, an inability to walk without support, and challenges in speech. Her road to recovery, as outlined by her doctor, seemed a long one, estimated to take at least a year to regain the semblance of her former independence. The word 'miracle' scarcely does justice to her resilience.
But now, we stand at a crossroads where the harsh realities of life intersect with our unwavering hope. Kelly faces not just the physical hurdles of rehabilitation but also the monumental task of adapting her home to her new needs. Wheelchair accessibility, a walk-in shower, kitchen modifications – these are just the tip of the iceberg. Compounding these challenges, her home bears the scars of Hurricane Ida, with a damaged roof, gutters in disrepair, and sheetrock damage, all left unattended as her insurance company collapsed into bankruptcy.
In this moment of profound need, we reach out to you with a plea for help. We have initiated a GoFundMe campaign, not just a fundraiser, but a lifeline, to aid Kelly in adapting to this drastically altered life. Your support will directly contribute to covering the daunting costs of her rehabilitation and the essential modifications to her home, creating an environment where she can thrive as the amazing mother to her two children and a cherished member of our community.
Every penny, every share of Kelly's story, brings her a step closer to a life brimming with hope and newfound independence. The funds raised will be meticulously managed in an interest-bearing account by her mother, Melissa Caudle, ensuring that every contribution directly supports Kelly's journey back to life.
In this moment of solidarity, we ask you to extend your kindness, generosity, and support. Share her story, contribute what you can, and join us in weaving a network of love and assistance. Together, we can be the pillars upon which Kelly rebuilds her life, a testament to the power of community and the strength of the human spirit.
Thank you, from the depths of our hearts, for being a part of this miracle.