Shannon Cartwright arrived in Alaska in 1972 after graduating from the University of Michigan School of Architecture and Design. She was drawn north by the stories she heard as a child from her grandmother, Esther Schaubel, a famous public-health nurse who spent 15 years in the Alaska bush during the '40s and '50s.
She has spent most of her Alaska years living in the bush, away from the road system, and has never owned a TV or a computer and communicates by satellite phone and US mail. Cartwright has traveled all over the state working on a set-net site in Bristol Bay, driving horse-pack trips, guiding in the Alaska Range and Brooks Range, researching book projects, and traveling between her cabins by train, skis, snowmobiles, and horses. She expresses her love of Alaska through the 28 children's books she has illustrated, seven of which she has also written.