Novel “Afognak” Unfolds on Kodiak Island

rains_picture.jpgJames Rains, author of “Afognak.” Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Kodiak is the star of a new novel.

Author James Rains recently released “Afognak” with publisher Beaver’s Pond Press, and the thriller follows a doctor and other survivors after a virus hits the island.

Rains says he worked in Kodiak for a year at the police department and based characters on his coworkers.

“I wanted people to kind of relate to the people here in Kodiak and there was a lot of people who inspired me here,” Rains says. “Especially working at the police department. There’s a lot of great people who work for the police department here in Kodiak. And so I tried to do my very best to take some of the character traits from some of the people I really respected and kind of blend them together to make characters.”

Rains says he combined as much truth as he could with fiction.

“I would write locations. Monk’s Rock. Places that I really enjoyed here in Kodiak. The library. I spent a lot of time there. So, I wrote those things down and I’ve kinda set the plot around those locations and then I try to do my best job to describe them,” says Rains. “For example, I always thought the seminary here is absolutely beautiful. And the church. So, I made sure to try to make that a scene in the book.”

He says he got back home after his time in Alaska and launched into writing “Afognak,” which took six months, although the editing process would go on for another few years.

“I almost got like this fever,” says Rains. “I worked on it 10, 12 hours a day and I just kept writing, and writing, and writing. And it took on a life of its own. Like, everyone says, well, how did you feel to write “Afognak”? It was like, I don’t really remember because it was almost like I wasn’t writing it. It was almost like the story became alive and took on its own maturity after a while.”

Rains can identify several driving themes behind “Afognak” that as a writer he feels compelled to include.

“I love isolation. As a child, isolation terrified me and I think because of that, I love incorporating it into my books,” Rains says. “Fear is also another big thing. Fear of the unknown, which kind of goes hand in hand with isolation. I love when people really don’t know what’s going on, and to see how they react under pressure, that fear of the unknown.”

He says the novel sprang from one idea he had while living in Kodiak.

“I was sitting in a squad car in the parking lot of the hospital and the nuclear power plant was having issues in Japan, there was fear of a tsunami hitting Kodiak because of that, and I remember sitting there and watching a Coast Guard helicopter fly really low to the wind turbines and I just foresaw in my mind one of those just hitting that and that wind turbine exploding and just casting Kodiak into darkness,” says Rains.

He adds that scene did make it into the novel.

Rains says he’s currently teaching at a college in Minnesota and is already working on a sequel. You can buy “Afognak” on or borrow a copy at the library.

Check Also

Sen. Murkowski talks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol in 2020. (JeffMalet/

Midday Report November 27, 2023

On today’s Midday Report with host Terry Haines: Two people are still missing after last …

%d bloggers like this: