Tulalip author treats BookWorks patrons to 'Sweet Grass Season'

MARYSVILLE — Local author J.R. Nakken enjoys drawing from real life to write her fiction, and her third published book, "Sweet Grass Season," is no exception.

Nakken appeared at the Marysville BookWorks Oct. 9-10 to autograph and discuss her books. Her latest novel is a contemporary love story between "a white professional woman and a Native American handyman." The male character shares the Assiniboine tribal heritage of Nakken's husband, but she laughed and said, "I keep saying it's a work of fiction."

Nakken's first novel, "Three-Point Shot," told the story of a teenage Native American basketball player. It was written for young adults and won a Writer's Digest award. Her second book, "Stream and Light: A Woman's Journey," is a memoir made up of 37 non-fiction stories from her own life.

"I don't really write in any genre," said Nakken, who lives in Tulalip. "I write about the inner feelings of characters, and how they infuse the stories' plots."

Nakken has written since an early age, but she became an accountant when early rejections discouraged her efforts. She described herself as "a stronger woman now," whose more recent rejection notices only encouraged her to work that much harder to get published.

"I'm compelled to write because I'm a writer," Nakken said. "You know you're a writer when you can't think of anything else."

BookWorks owner Mary Burns first met Nakken as a customer, but heard the praise that high school teachers heaped on "Three-Point Shot." Like Diane Janes, a Tulalip resident who attended Nakken's signing at the BookWorks Oct. 9, Burns deemed Nakken's writing "brilliant." Janes praised Nakken's "wonderful, thought-provoking messages of encouragement, that clarify parts of life," and called Nakken "Marysville's best hidden secret writer."

"Part of the fun of fiction is incorporating true-to-life episodes into it," Nakken said. "You want readers to wonder if some of what you've written has happened in real life."

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