For the first and last time in my life, I share the floor with Ezra Pound and Ernest Hemingway!
The Sun Valley Center for the Arts is the cultural heart of the Big Wood River Valley, where we live. Every year, the Center adopts BIG projects featuring visual art, literary arts, plays, films, lectures and craft days for teens and families. This fall, the BIG project has been IDAHO STORIES.
Artists featured in IDAHO STORIES included Scott Fife, Mary HallockFoote and others. Scott created cardboard cutouts of Ezra Pound (born here) and Ernest Hemingway (died here), two of Idaho’s icons. Jenny Emery-Davidson, the Executive Director of the Ketchum Community Library, talked about Mary Foote’s drawings of the west.
I was fortunate to be part of this BIG project with the subject From Idaho Stories to Idaho Novels. On December 1, I presented a lecture/reading from my three books set in Idaho (The Good Times Are All Gone Now, Moonshadows, andBasque Moon) as well as stories I have written and stories I have heard over the years. I explained some of my writing process and read pieces to show how I moved from nonfiction to fiction.
My first example described my trip down the Bunker Hill Mine in 1992 when I was working on my own first big project, the memoir of place about growing up in Kellogg and its mining history. I compared it to the mine scene in Moonshadows with my characters Nellie Burns, photographer, and Rosy, the miner who took Nellie into the Triumph mine. Because Moonshadows is a mystery and fiction, I could spice up the adventure, so Nellie and Rosy narrowly escape being slammed by an ore train.
Another example reflected how my interest in Basque people of Idaho over the years showed up in Basque Moon, a book featuring sheepherders, as well as moonshining and cowboy and sheepherder conflicts. I wrote a story, “Idaho Surprise,” some time ago that won second place in the Clackamas Literary Review (and it is being featured in a 20-year anniversary of the Review in 2017). Txomin, the sheepherder, tends the sheep during a snowstorm so they won’t suffocate when they bunch up to stay warm. From there, I describe Nellie staying with a sheepherder in the Stanley Basin, following him as he tends the sheep, cooks lamb in the sheep camp, and shows her the Basque inscriptions on trees.The last two examples feature the women in my stories. Nellie Burns delights in being outside in Moonshadows to photograph just north of Ketchum on a moonlit night in the snow—an experience both Gerry and I have had in reality. She discovers a dead body; we did not. Pearl, a saloon girl in Basque Moon, is based on a character I read about in Sawtooth Tales by Dick D’Easum—a woman in early Idaho with both a husband and a lover. One is shot and the woman disappears. Pearl doesn’t disappear, but figures boldly in the mystery.
Gerry acted as my “power point” and showed the photographs of the settings and the people. It was a delightful occasion for me. Just preparing my presentation gave me insight into how I do structure my stories and novels, a gift to myself.
BOOK NEWS:Our book tour in the fall in Idaho and Washington again found us seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Books almost flew out the door at three bookstores in Seattle—University Bookstore, Third Place Books and Seattle Mystery Bookshop. My launch party in the Ketchum Community Library garnered a great crowd, too.
In October, we traveled to Santa Fe for the Women Writing the West conference. Anne Hillerman and I presented The Writing Life and Creativity in Writing to other writers. Anne generously wrote a blurb forMoonshadows last year. I eagerly await the release of her new book, The Soul of a Lion in March, another in her series of Jim Chee and Bernadette Manuelito stories.
On December 3, I participated in The Art of the Gift: Authors and Artisans on the Rim in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Holidays: In honor of the seasons, I offer my two mysteries, Moonshadows and Basque Moon, at $25 each, wrapped and mailed. I offer The Good Times Are All Gone Now at $18, also wrapped and mailed. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org before December 16 if you would like to take advantage of this offer! You can always find more information about my books and my life at www.julieweston.com Please subscribe when you visit.
If this is a dark time for you, read “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!