About Me

I am Mary Ellen Chiles
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I am a writer and photographer based in the Ozarks.

Many years ago I spent five summers working at fly-in fishing lodges in Alaska. In the spring of 2013 I picked up a month-long job at a lodge in a tiny village 35 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

I nudged myself to board each flight, finally landing on a mile-long iced-over runway. I picked up a hint of frostbite while grabbing my camera after cutting down trees along an ice road. The next time I brought a better camera.

I finished a Master's of English (creative nonfiction writing) at Missouri State in 2018. I wrote a collection of essays about working in Alaska for my thesis.

I returned to tiny Bettles after graduation, a huge cultural shift after academia. The 2010 census stated 12 residents. But everyone had dogs, and the lodge kept 12 sled dogs. I spent 4 months working in hospitality at the lodge. I returned for another 4 months during the winter season, where I worked as a northern lights guide.

Now I'm turning those stories and photos into something new.

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Follow me on Instagram @best.northernlights