Welcome to the inaugural interview in my new series, Colorado is for Writers! Every other Tuesday, I’ll be talking to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. And this week we have a giveaway, too! See the end of the post for details.
Now, who better to kick things off than (spoiler alert!) Colorado native—and newly-minted winner of the prestigious Colorado Book Award—Jeannie Mobley? Welcome, Jeannie!
First things first: Colorado native or transplant?
Native, born and bred. In fact, my mother was also born in Colorado, as were both of her parents, in 1910 and 1912 respectively, so our family has some pretty deep roots here. That doesn’t mean, however, that we are a bunch of homebodies that never get out. We’ve explored pretty much every inch of the state in our summer camping and hiking adventures over the years, as well as traveling around much of the West. It was all that daydreaming in the car, on the trail, or at night under the stars that honed my writer’s imagination as a kid. That’s why Colorado/Western history features prominently in much of my writing.
Please tell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!
My first book, KATERINA’S WISH, was published in fall of 2012, and just won the 2013 Colorado Book Award for juvenile fiction! (Which I hope means books for juveniles, rather than being a reflection on my own personality.) It is the story of an immigrant family in the coal mining communities of southern Colorado at the beginning of the 20th century. Trina’s family came to America for a farm, but end up barely scraping by in the coal mines. Then Trina sees a fish that reminds her of a folk tale about a fish that grants wishes. She wishes for her family’s dream of a farm, and lucky things begin to happen. But is it magic, or is something else behind their success? It is the story of one family’s American dream, and the risks they must take to make a dream come true.
My second book, SEARCHING FOR SILVERHEELS, will be published in fall 2014. It is the story of 13-year-old Pearl Rose Barnell, a romantic girl who waits tables in the Silverheels Café and delights in telling tourists a local legend of the dancehall girl Silverheels. But, as the summer of 1917 heats up, so too does the First World War, along with accusations of un-American behavior and the outrageous fanaticism of a local suffragist, with whom Pearl has taken a potentially dangerous bet.
Beyond those, I have a variety of other projects in the works, ranging from contemporary humor to historical fiction. I seem to get new ideas for stories much faster than I can turn them into books.
What’s the view like from your favorite writing space?
I like to write either outside or where I can see the outside. When the weather is conducive, I write at my picnic table on the back patio. When it is either too hot or too cold for that, I work in the sunroom on the back of my house that looks out onto our back yard. It’s not a big back yard, but the trees and bushes make it feel peaceful and somewhat secluded (even though it really isn’t). And even though my room is called a “sunroom” I love working out here in the winter when the snow is falling outside the windows. Very peaceful.
What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado?
I love Colorado because of the scenery, the outdoor lifestyle, and because my family and my memories are here. I used to love it for the weather, too, although this year I’m not so sure. I could be a writer anywhere, but at heart, I am a mountain person. Mountains feed my soul better than any other kind of landscape. I listen to the mountains—there are stories in the silences of the high elevations and the old ghost towns. There are places where stopping and doing nothing is very productive. Where the stillness, the vastness, the timelessness bring my senses to hyper-awareness. The Colorado Rockies* awaken a sense of wonder in me that I try to keep at the heart of my writing life. I could work in another environment, but why would I want to?
*This refers to the mountains, not the baseball team. Although the MLB Colorado Rockies also awaken a sense of wonder—as in, I wonder why they can’t ever get a decent bullpen???
Thank you so much, Jeannie!
Giveaway: Would you like to win a signed copy of KATERINA’S WISH (complete with a shiny gold “Colorado Book Award Winner” sticker on the cover)? Just leave a comment that answers this question: What kind of landscape leaves you with a sense of wonder? The winner will be announced next Tuesday, July 23.
What a fun idea for a series, Tara. Jeannie – congratulations on winning the Colorado Book award. Fun interview!
Thanks for reading, Beth, and for stopping by!
Great interview, Tara and Jeannie! And I love Katerina’s Wish. As far as landscapes, there are so many that fill me with wonder! But I’m kinda partial to slot canyons and wonderstruck when I think of how the tiny stream I’m wading through created the towering cliffs on either side of me.
“the tiny stream I’m wading through created the towering cliffs on either side of me”
I love this, Elaine! What a beautiful metaphor for the greatness that something seemingly small can accomplish. Thanks for your comment! =)
To get to the nearest fairly large city from where I live, you have to drive through the Virgin River Gorge, which always leaves me breathless. I’ve never been to New York, so I can’t imagine how tall the Empire State Building must be, but I’m pretty sure New Yorkers who’ve never been west can’t imagine mountains and cliff faces as tall as their buildings.
Thanks for the interview (and giveaway!), Jeannie and Tara!
“but I’m pretty sure New Yorkers who’ve never been west can’t imagine mountains and cliff faces as tall as their buildings.”
Such a good point, Krista! And absolutely true–I still remember how much my first roadtrip through the Southwest knocked my socks off. And now I live here. =) Thanks for visiting!
Thanks for the interview, Tara and Jeannie! I’m looking forward to every other Tuesday, as well as Searching For Silverheels!
Thanks for stopping by, Cindy! And looking forward to getting your interview up one of these months! 🙂
What a great interview and those photos are fantastic! Congrats to Jeannie on winning the Colorado Book Award. I loved Katerina’s Wish and look forward to Searching for Silverheels 🙂
I got to hear a smidgen of Silverheels at our retreat recently, and you are right to be looking forward to it, Jess. 🙂 Thanks for commenting!
I, too, am a native Coloradoan! Recently, I have caught up on many books relating to Colorado history; some are “based on fact” while others are first person accounts.
Thank you for a great interview! I will certainly read Jeannie’s books.
What kind of landscape leaves me with a sense of wonder? Traveling throughout Colorado brings me a sense of wonder and new discoveries every journey. I particularly love the high altitude panoramas and solitude of above-timberline vistas.
“Above-timberline vistas”–beautifully said, Jeanne! This is a good reminder that I need to get to some (even) higher elevations this summer. Thank you for commenting!
Give me the cozy nook between the roots of tree on the banks of a tumbling, rushing river. That’s my inspirational place. The sound of water is constant yet ever-changing, the light sparkles and dances, the leaves overhead rustle and whisper: I am utterly content.
I love the idea of this series, Tara, because Colorado is definitely a wonderful, supportive place for writers. I have never felt so at home as I do here!
Isn’t Colorado incredible? Many of my transplanted interviewees are saying the same thing–you’ll see in a few weeks. 🙂 And I love your description of your inspirational place, that’s just beautiful. Thanks for stopping by!
Great insight into a great writer. Thanks for the interview. The reds of Sedona never fail to leave me with a sense of wonder, but there is so much of the landscapes of Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado that leave me wonderstruck too. Its wonder that I have any thoughts in my head after all that awesomeness.
Sometimes you just have to take it all in and give up on processing it for a while, right? 🙂 Sedona is an incredible place, what a great choice. Thank you for commenting!
I’ve never been to Colorado, but you make it sound very appealing. Much more peaceful than Los Angeles. And I love that Prohibition-era picture–especially the guy grinning up front. They look so happy!
Thanks for stopping by, Rachel–and feel free to stop by the real Colorado anytime! We’d love to have you. (Though I must say that you have some awesome food in LA that I crave regularly. We don’t have *everything* in Colorado.)
My sense of wonder landscape would have to be high on a terrace or balcony overlooking a big city on a clear, very late and quite evening with all their lights twinkling, yet dark enough to see many stars in the night sky (and knowing water -as in ocean- is nearby). That’s how I’ve lived most of my life and I do seem to gravitate toward that. Though looking forward to seeing the grandeur of Colorado for the first time very soon. Tara, just FYI, your maternal grandfather and grandmother were ALSO born in 1910 and 1912 respectively.
Right, I knew that! Excited to have you in Colorado soon, AJ, though your favorite landscape has a special place in my heart as well. 🙂
What a fun interview, and I love the photos! Mountains, any kind of mountains, always leave me in awe. And the Badlands in South Dakota. And the lava flows at Craters of the Moon National Monument. 🙂
Laurie, I’d never heard of Craters of the Moon until you mentioned it at the retreat, and now it’s on my to-visit list. Thank you! And I agree that the Badlands are awesome.
I would love to write in a Colorado landscape. I definitely write by windows! I love to see the trees, etc. even here in West Texas.
Penny, I need to be by a window, too. There’s something about that natural light. Thanks for stopping by!
Love this interview!!! I know so many people from Colorado or who are frequent visitors. I’d love to go someday. As for my favorite landscape, a love a “big sky.” You see, I grew up in Chicago. The sky always seem tiny with so many skyscrapers. So when I travel west, I notice how huge the sky looks without so many skyscrapers to block it.
Thanks for your comment, L. Marie! Indeed, the sky is so different out here compared to the city, though both have their charms. You’ll have to come check it out sometime. 🙂
I have only spent a few days in Colorado, and the view that left me with the strongest impression was the one inside Tattered Cover. 🙂 I am generally partial to views with tons and tons of evergreens, like my home in the Pacific Northwest. The landscape on the cover of Katerina’s Wish looks like one I wouldn’t mind exploring, either. Great interview!
Joy, how wonderful that you live in a place that has your ideal creative landscape. 🙂 And the Tattered Cover does have some fabulous views, especially in the children’s section! Thanks for stopping by.
Great interview, Jeannie. Both of your novels sound wonderful, and congrats on your award! (I love this idea for an interview series, Tara!!)
This is exactly the kind of book I love. I just finished Hattie Big Sky and am longing to get back into that time period. 🙂 Great series, Tara, and congrats on the award, Jeannie.
I love what you guys are up too. Such clever work and exposure!
Keep up the fantastic works guys I’ve incorporated
you guys to my personal blogroll.