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December 14, 2017

What AKM has Been Doing Lately – from the Mudflats to Tinseltown (I’m not kidding)

I have packed my swanky Hartmann valise; Tinsel Town here I come! And by “swanky Hartman valise” I mean that vinyl duffel bag I got at Costco in South Anchorage seven years ago.

I have packed my swanky Hartmann valise; Tinsel Town here I come! And by “swanky Hartman valise” I mean that vinyl duffel bag I got at Costco in South Anchorage seven years ago.

Hello Mudflatters, it’s me! Those who have been here from the beginning know me as “AKMuckraker,” or AKM. Back when I started tapping out anonymous blog posts about Alaska politics from my living room overlooking the mudflats I didn’t put my name on anything because I didn’t figure anyone would be reading it, and wasn’t convinced anyone would care what I had to say anyway. Then insanity struck, and Alaska’s governor got tapped by John McCain to be his VP nominee. The proverbial moose nuggets hit the fan and my readership kept climbing until The Mudflats reached its peak of 3 million reads a month right before the election.

Then one of Palin’s staffers decided to write a book, and I was invited on board. 64,000 of Sarah Palin’s mind-numbing emails later, and after collaborating with Frank Bailey and Ken Morris, Blind Allegiance was brought into the world, and it became a NY Times best-seller, even after a competing author got hold of the manuscript and leaked the entire thing to the media and share sites online. That was not cool. Not cool at all.

But life went on, and one summer I found myself blogging about the Schaeffer Cox trial happening in Anchorage. You remember… anti-government militia guys from Fairbanks with illegal weapons plotting to kidnap and kill federal judges and their families? Sovereign citizens who literally don’t recognize the federal government or its laws? That one.  I was hooked on that trial like it was the best reality show ever. Because it was. And I got to binge watch from the courtroom.

It turned out that one of the witnesses was a guy named Bill Fulton who had owned a military surplus store in Anchorage called The Drop Zone. It was kinda creepy – Obama Joker-face poster in the window, building painted black, yellow snake flag flapping in the breeze, selling camo-covered Bibles, gas masks, the whole works. They say don’t judge a book by its cover. I’ll add to that, don’t judge a military surplus store by its scary flag, because… it turned out that Bill Fulton was actually working undercover with the FBI to bust Cox and crew before people got hurt. And he also really liked Rachel Maddow, and wine and cheese, and organic farming. Color Anchorage gobsmacked. And then give them a second coat.

During my blogging of the trial, they played lots of FBI audio tapes in which Bill Fulton demonstrated one of the most prodigiously impressive potty mouths I’ve ever heard – and keep in mind that I grew up in New Jersey. I mused aloud on the blog that perhaps he’d been raised in a barn, which caused a cascade of events beginning with his mother reading the post online, calling her son and insisting he contact me and tell me that he was not, in fact, raised in a barn, and that he did not get his potty mouth from her. The Army was at fault, she said. He dutifully informed me of this, and added that he’d used the f-word in front of his mother one time and she’d beaned him on the side of the head with a rolling pin out of reflex. I stood corrected.

Other than the “raised in a barn” incident, he told me he liked my reporting, and that he’d give me an interview after the trial was over if I wanted one. I most definitely did. After a three-part interview on The Mudflats, he asked if I would write his book. I said yes.

I thought at first it was going to be a book about Schaeffer Cox, and it started that way. But as the months (and years) went on, I realized that the world of the Drop Zone was far more complex and interesting than the creepy military surplus store façade would indicate, and that the real story wasn’t Schaeffer Cox, but something bigger. Bill Fulton ran a security company from his shop that employed vets who were trying to transition from active duty in the middle East back to a world that no longer felt the same. He also ran a fugitive recovery service employing the same team of vets, plus a few hippie sharpshooters, active-duty military, and a giant tattooed deathbot named Gunny who worked for a 3-letter organization he refused to name. You can feel fairly sure it wasn’t the EPA.

Ponder that all for a minute – a bunch of heavily armed guys in camo heading to Wasilla in the middle of the night to bust meth dealers, armed robbers, and felons who jumped bail. The stories are as completely hilarious and weird and “only in Alaska” as you’re thinking, times ten.

We found an awesome literary agent, and eventually a publisher, and the draft went through editing, and copy editing, and a cover was designed, and blurbs were written, and now it’s getting ready to go into print this September when it will end up on shelves in bookstores. I took a big sigh, and felt like the end was in sight. I had finished. The hard part, the overwhelming part, was done. I was starting to think about what I might do next. I did not get the answer I was expecting.

We came to discover that someone from Hollywood read the book and loved it. Then someone else did. They loved it too. Everyone seemed to feel the same way – they loved the characters, the relationships, the stories, the Alaskan feel, the bigger messages about patriotism, what it means, and where this country goes from here. This cycle of reading and loving repeated itself and many phone calls were had, and at the end of a few weeks of frenzied activity, we got no less than NINE offers to turn The Blood of Patriots into a TV series or feature film!

RIGHT? I could hardly process it all. Exciting, terrifying, awesome… and now here we are!

At the end of it all, after weighing offers and talking to a whole bunch of amazing people, we made a deal, and I’m going to be heading to Los Angeles in a few weeks to meet people, and press the flesh, and do lunches and things they do in LA. I went shopping because I literally live in the city that won “worst-dressed city in America” honors and I’m pretty sure I have no idea what I’m doing. I even bought shoes with slats… “sandals” I think they call them.

I’m not exactly sure how this is all going to work, but I will have to learn how to write a TV pilot pretty quickly. [breathes into a paper bag] I’ve never shied from a challenge before, so why start now?

If you want to follow along with my latest crazy chapter in life, I have a Facebook author page which you are welcome to “like,” and a Twitter feed with my whole real name on it. (see below)BLOODOFPATRIOTS-sidebanner

You can also pre-order the book HERE. Pre-orders are nice because they all count toward best-seller lists and such, and they show the publisher how much interest there is in the book. So, I wouldn’t be sad if you ordered one. Or a few. Or did your whole Christmas shopping. It’s really good, I promise! You too can be one of those people who read it and love it! (I’m kind of totally wanting 2 New York Times best-sellers… I’m not gonna lie.)

It’s been a long, unpredictable, wonderful road since the days of AKM and the Mudflatters back in 2008. Remember that – when Sarah Palin was our worst nightmare? When she was the poster child for a narcissistic, under-informed, politician run amok, who made stuff up all the time, and mangled foreign policy and the Engish language, and had no clue how politics worked? ‘Member?

Ah… the good old days. We were so innocent then. [sigh]

But you, Mudflatters, old and new, were such a part of that journey. Your feedback and encouragement made me realize that maybe this writing thing is something I should keep doing. That maybe people did like what I had to say. Thank you for that. And I hope you stick with me because it’s about to get crazy again!

Here’s where you can keep track of an Alaska muckraker in Tinsel Town.

Twitter: @JeanneCDevon

Facebook: facebook.com/jeannedevonauthor/

Instagram (coming imminently) JeanneDevon

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Comments
11 Responses to “What AKM has Been Doing Lately – from the Mudflats to Tinseltown (I’m not kidding)”
  1. dowl says:

    South Side Chicago here (dowl). AKA, you are a wonderful writer. I have a half bookshelf of AK stuff on ol Sarah P, including Blind Ambition, all good reads. I appreciate the AK bloggers who opened my eyes to the AK grifter and her poorly educated misbegotten tribe.

    Bless you in your patriot efforts for we the people Americans all. Stay focused and as true to yourself as your AK Muckracker you ‘appeared’ to me.

    Stay true as you can toward the goal of America as a more perfect union; promised even at the congenitally racism-birth defected democratic republic that I claim citizenship. Manifest Destiny was not what it appeared to be for whites or nonwhites not just in America but around the world.

    Being ‘carefully taught’ (miseducated) is no way to create a more perfect union and being progressive is hard painful work for those who truly love other human beings no matter what color, gender, and/or political stripe. ‘Color-blindness’ is an impossibility when dealing with human beings and it simply blinds those who ‘don’t see color’ and IMO continues to contribute by maintaining the lie of ‘separate but equal’ institutional inequities by political design.

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

    dowl

  2. laurainnocal says:

    I am so elated to hear of your success Jean. I will never forget when I found your site and said to myself, “this gal is hilarious, informed and gutsy”. Thank you so much for the updates on your travails! I haven’t been to the site so often, but of the 9 comments, I recognize almost all of them from the crazy days. Jean, you always truly invoked love and loyalty because you deeply cared about your writing and accurate accounting. ………. I’m a Jersey girl also! Enjoy yourself, you’ve earned every ray of sunshine.

  3. juneaudream says:

    The bad news..and the good. I have no cell phone, no facebook acct. nor the twitter stuff. I am..a WAYYyyyy..outside the beltway..even by Juneau standards! So congrats..and since you-all..have my addy..please send me a..mailing address, plus the book cost, and the postage. My #ss..comes in on the second wed. and I am SO..ready to help the book..go..ballistic..and galatic. Love all you have done for us..the earthbounders..truly.. My eamail is puusty@outlook.com

  4. zyggy says:

    and I thought I was the only one that loved the stick figures. I think animated stick figures should be in the movie, maybe in the end when all the credits are running. We might need a bit of comic relief after the movie.

  5. Lauren says:

    You’ll knock’em dead, I just know it. (In a good way.)

  6. Marilyn says:

    Nobody could do it better. I am so proud you are from Alaska!

  7. Can’t believe you didn’t include your life-like stick figure illustrations in your post. The ‘Flats misses you but, I suspect, you don’t miss the ‘Flats. Good luck in Hollywood. By all accounts, it’s a very strange place.

  8. qwerty43 says:

    Wow. Congratulations and everything. Best wishes to you, Bill Fulton and everyone involved.

  9. mike from iowa says:

    Congrats Ms Devon on all your success(es). One question if I may, who in Hollywood has the chops to play your stick figure characters? You do the best stick figures so it can’t be just anyone. Better take a Brian along fer personal protection.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      Same here! I can’t think of anyone who could do justice to your eerily lifelike stick figures.

      Congratulations AKM! Looking forward to the book and your stories about HWood.
      Sending very best wishes!

  10. slipstream says:

    Wowser dowser and congratulations! Book two! But (you being an Alaskan and all) just a warning about Los Angeles: it gets dark there at night. Strange, I know. But there it is.

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