Saturday, August 5, 2023

Angeline Boulley Closing Keynote

Author Angeline Boulley gave a perfect closing keynote! 

A highlight being when she shared the origin story of her first book, FIREKEEPER’S DAUGHTER: While still in high school Angeline’s best friend had told her about a new boy at another school that she thought was Angeline’s type, but when Angeline found out the boy hung out with a group of kids that did drugs, she gave the guy a hard pass before ever even meeting him… Only later did she find out he was working ¡undercover! for the police to help do a drug bust. That pre-21 Jump Street plotpoint moment stuck with Angeline for the rest of her life—the ‘what if’ of if they had met and there had been sparks, what would have happened next?  

But Angeline did not pursue creative writing in college, instead she worked in grant writing and education (as a former Director of the Office of Indian Education at the U.S. Department of Education) yet all that time she could not stop thinking about that highschool story idea. Angeline is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, a part of the Ojibwe community in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The more she thought about that highschool moment, the more she wondered how an Indigenous teen girl like herself might have been needed in such a storyline.

Finally at 44, during a midlife crisis in which she DID buy a red sportscar, Angeline also decided she’d rather live with failure and write the world’s worst draft of her story than live with the regret of never trying.

The rest of the keynote expands on Angeline’s authorial career arc getting even more interesting and fantastic along the way, but a blog post will not do it justice. Angeline's talk was so lovely and so worth experiencing in person (or in Zoom) that it's worth the effort to seek out her next events or interviews, but in summary: You think you know how your path to publication is going to go, but it’s probably not going to turn out that way. For Angeline it did not, but every rejection gave her momentum and she stayed true to writing the story in her heart.

And wow, did staying true pay off: Sold in a 12-house auction, FIREKEEPER’S DAUGHTER became an instant NYT bestseller. And only two weeks after selling the manuscript did the OBAMAS approach her to buy TV/Film rights. You can now find the book in 22 different languages as well as look forward to seeing it on Netflix in the near future. 

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