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March 8, 2011

Book Trailer for Shelter and Q&A with Author Sarah Stonich

Filed under: Authors, Interview, Literary, MHS press, Videos — Alison Aten @ 11:02 am

We are pleased to announce the publication of  Shelter by internationally acclaimed author Sarah Stonich.

Stonich shares her new book trailer for Shelter and, in part one of a two-part interview, talks about family tradition in Minnesota’s north country.

Q.  What most surprised you while writing this book?

A.  In doing research, I realized how much I’d romanticized the past with a sort of soft-focus vision. In reality, the Minnesota my grandparents settled in was pretty harsh. I was reminded how difficult daily life was--laundry day alone for a family of twelve in 1903? The dozens of conveniences I don’t give a thought to, like flipping on a light, would have been ultimate luxury to them.

Q. You’ve written about your grandmother’s era in northern Minnesota before as the setting for These Granite Islands. And you mentioned your next novel is contemporary and also set there. Now, in Shelter, you’re writing about the very real place in the present. What about it keeps providing material for you?

A. A lot of writers, I suspect, find that places once thought boring or plain actually become inspiration for a lot of work, once you get far enough away from them.

Q. Most who write about the north tend to be very reverent of “God’s Country,” but you seem to have a love-hate relationship with it. Do you?

A. To a degree. If I could go back in time and convince my grandparents to keep traveling west to the Pacific Coast, I would. I pine for the ocean. I love Minnesota in spring and fall, but not during those six months I hardly ever see my feet. I don’t believe surviving the climate builds character and can’t get excited that the town down the road holds the record cold temp. Then again, you can’t beat Lake Superior in July. So, yes, a little love-hate.

Q. In Shelter the theme of land providing solace and retreat plays heavily for you as an adult. Has it always been so for you?

A.  Growing up, the lake often felt the safest, calmest place to be, especially during the years of my parents’ divorce. I went to a Catholic school, where I found the religion frightening and my studies difficult. Our cabin was a haven from all that--not the building, which wasn’t much, but the woods and water. A rowboat is as good a place as any for an awkward, introverted kid.

Q. You wrestle with how you “fit” on the Iron Range and with the political divisions there--are those still issues?

A. Well, not quite wrestle. But politics is really a toxic topic for a lot of folks up here--especially around the real land issues that make my own little dilemma a trifle. There has been a historic, constant tug-of-war over land and its ultimate best uses--it’s all about mining and money versus conservation. If the natural resources were left alone, they would become the most valuable, as a legacy. There are a lot of mines in the world, and plenty of places to jet ski, but there’s only one Boundary Waters.

Q. If there was one principal message in the book, what would you say it is?

A.  I never intended a message and can’t predict what readers will take away from it, but for me, the meaningful bit would be that material things and land only set the stages we live on, that family and the people we choose to live with are the real deal. The land, no matter how well we tend it or how badly we screw it up, will be there long after we aren’t.

Reading and Signings with Sarah Stonich:

Wednesday, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. at Common Good Books


Thursday, April 14, at Micawber’s Books, with author and poet Kate Kysar, editor of Riding Shotgun.


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