Beth Hautala

Children's Author


Sauna Book Award and an Irish Poet

This weekend I had the distinct honor of watching my husband (and author Michael Nordskog) win Minnesota Book of the Year Award in the General Nonfiction category for their book, THE OPPOSITE OF COLD

I've been waiting a long time to say that. Four years actually.

Four years ago, my awesome photographer husband, Aaron Hautala, and my awesome writing friend Michael Nordskog, hatched a book idea.

"Let's do a book on the northwoods Finnish sauna tradition," they said.

My husband, a Finn, and Nordskog, a sauna aficionado, declared this the most perfect plan ever, and so they pitched the idea to editor extraordinaire, Todd Orjala at the University of Minnesota Press. Over the gestation period of 48 months, give or take a few, THE OPPOSITE OF COLD was born. 

Hundreds of Sauna photography shoots, one trip to Finland, millions of images, billions of words, several drafts, and the birth of two daughters (between our two families) occurred over the course of this book's creation. It has been a long haul, but watching Nordskog and my husband step forward, in front of more than seven-hundred literary moguls, publishers, editors, and their guests on Saturday night, made me shed more than a few proud tears. 

Besides being overly proud of my my husband's accomplishment, I also had the distinct honor of meeting my new favorite poet. She was the guest poet at the awards event and I believe she won over even the most reticent literary moguls, coaxing them with lilting words and her sweet, unpretentious demeanor.

Welcome, if you will, Irish Poet Leanne O' Sullivan. She has done some AMAZING work. Bonus: she's Irish and her poems sound even more lovely when she recites them. Have a listen for yourself:

I had a chance to chat with her briefly at the awards event and I can honestly say she is one of the most warm and genuine writers I've ever met. While beautifully written, O'Sullivan's book, WAITING FOR MY CLOTHES does address some controversial issues, and she has been herald as a "young Virgil," by the poet Billy Collins. I look forward to reading her books for myself, but can only testify to their greatness from what small samplings I heard this weekend. I'll do a review when I get that far!

Here they are:

All of this to say, this week, I am especially proud to be among those who call themselves writers and readers.

And now, if you will please excuse me, I'm off to take a sauna and read some poetry in my sad-attempt at an Irish accent. Cheers!