Guest Post & Giveaway: Author Ann Joslin Williams

Down From Cascom Mountain, by Ann Joslin Williams

336 pages
Bloomsbury USA (June 7, 2011)

It is my pleasure to welcome author Ann Joslin Williams to my blog today. I just finished reading her wonderful novel, Down From Cascom Mountain, and was excited when Ann agreed to a guest post. I am also thrilled to be able to offer one copy of the book as a give away to one of my US or Canadian readers. Let me tell you a little about both the novel and the author…


Read my review.

Get links to reviews from the TLC Book Tour.

Read an excerpt.

From the publisher:

In Down From Cascom Mountain, newlywed Mary Hall brings her husband to settle in the rural New Hampshire of her youth to fix up the house she grew up in and to reconnect to the land that defined her, with all its beauty and danger. But on a mountain day hike, she watches helplessly as her husband falls to his death. As she struggles with her sudden grief, in the days and months that follow, Mary finds new friendships–with Callie and Tobin, teenagers who live and work on the mountain, and with Ben, the gentle fire watchman. All are haunted by their own losses, but they find ways to restore hope in one another, holding firmly as they navigate the rugged terrain of the unknown and the unknowable, and loves lost and found.


Ann Joslin Williams grew up in New Hampshire. She earned her MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. She is the author of The Woman in the Woods, a collection of linked stories, which won the 2005 Spokane Prize for Short Fiction, and her work has appeared in StoryQuarterly, the Iowa Review, the Missouri Review,Ploughshares, and elsewhere. She was the winner of an NEA grant for her work on Down from Cascom Mountain. Williams is an assistant professor at the University of New Hampshire.

Learn more about Williams and her work by visiting the author’s website.

My thanks to Ann for writing a wonderful piece for this post – I completely related to it because I grew up in New Hampshire, like the author, moved away from New England to the San Francisco Bay area, and later went on to volunteer in search and rescue. I hope that you will enjoy this guest post as much as I did.


Guest Post: Author Ann Joslin Williams

I was living in San Francisco when I started writing Down From Cascom Mountain–a long way from New Hampshire where I’d grown up.  I was homesick for the woods and mountains of New England, so it was a pleasure to write every morning, following my characters through the woods and fields I loved and knew so well.

Leah, New Hampshire is actually a fictional town, an invention my father Thomas Williams, a National Book Award winner, used in his own fiction. When I’d started writing, often setting my stories on the mountain where my parents had built a cabin and where I’d spent my childhood summers, my father suggested I use his fictional geographical names.  He passed them on to me, and I am honored to use them in my fiction now.

Much like Mary Walker’s parents’ house in Down From Cascom Mountain, my parents’ cabin was isolated.  My brother was my playmate, but when he was old enough and elected to go to boys’ camp, I was on my own.  I spent a lot of time in the woods, carting my stuffed animals on adventures, constructing houses out of branches, and befriending boulders that looked like giant creatures.  I knew my way around our land.  There were shortcuts to the brook, paths that cut across the valley, logging roads leading to open fields and trails up the mountain.  For the most part, I was content with the wilderness and my imagination.

Then, one day I “got lost” in the valley.  I stood in the middle of a field I knew well and bawled, calling out for my parents until a strange man came out of the woods.  He was a logger who’d been working nearby.  Realizing that I belonged to the cabin on the hill, he took my hand and walked me up the logging road to my incredulous mother.  She was comforting, but truly baffled at my claim, given the logger’s description of where he’d found me.

In Down From Cascom Mountain Mary has a similar memory of “getting lost” when she was a girl.  In her loneliness, she wanted her parents to notice she was “missing” and come rescue her.  Later, contemplating the autonomy her parents had encouraged, she reflects, “The mountain had raised her as much as they had.”

In many ways, my own relationship with the New Hampshire landscape has informed the way I navigate life and view the world, just as many of my own experiences have found their way into Down From Cascom Mountain, shaping events and details.

As a teenager I worked for the Appalachian Mountain Club.  I spent two summers at the lodge not far from my parents’ cabin and one summer at Pinkham Notch at the base of Mount Washington, the tallest peak in the northeastern U.S. and a wilderness rich with ghost stories.  While there, I participated in the search for a missing albino man—the spark for the legend of the ghost girl who appears in Down From Cascom Mountain.

As a crew member for the AMC we cleared trails, led hikes, cooked, cleaned, served meals, mowed, dug drainage ditches–just about anything you can think of, including search and rescue.  Later, after I left the AMC for college, I learned a crew member had fallen from a cliff and died–an event that bewildered me in the details and influenced the early chapters in my novel.

Setting my fiction in this terrain is rewarding for me, not only because it can be rugged and sometimes dangerous which is good for creating tension, but the natural world is also beautiful, full of mystery and magic.  It’s through the eyes of this wondrous  teacher that my characters find their way, sometimes lost before they can be found.

Now, having moved back to New Hampshire I treasure “getting lost” in the White Mountains whenever I can.



I hope I have tempted you to add this book to your to-be-read pile! You now have a chance to win a copy of the novel from the publisher. Here is how to enter:

  • Leave a comment on this post no later than June 23rd by 5:00 pm PST. Tell me one thing about the natural world which deeply resonates with you.
  • Contest is open to US and Canada mailing addresses only.
  • I will draw one winner randomly sometime after 5:00pm on June 23rd and announce the winner here on my blog by the end of the day on June 24th. I’ll also send the winner an email.

That’s it – easy, right? Good luck!!

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    • Linda B on June 16, 2011 at 04:20

    When I was a child we lived in the Ozarks and I have fond memories of prowling around the side of a mountain, possibly just a large wooded hill, and enjoying the solitude. This sounds like a great novel. Thanks for the giveaway.

    • Jill on June 16, 2011 at 05:08

    First of all, this is a wonderful post! And thanks for letting me know about the giveaway.

    As a Florida girl, we didn’t have woods or forests per se, but where I love nature (then and now) is by the water – whether it be near a lake or the Gulf of Mexico. It’s so beautiful to see “land meets water” – and I am often treated to great wildlife: pelicans, cranes, turtles, fish, sting rays, frogs and maybe an occasional alligator. (They are scary, but I am admire from a distance!).

    Great question! Thanks again for letting me participate!

    • Amy on June 16, 2011 at 07:03

    I thoroughly enjoyed this guest post! I love the image of Ann Joslin Williams as a little girl carting her stuffed animals out into the woods with her as her playmates in adventure. So sweet. I, too, was a child who played with stuffed animals. The idea of the mountain having raised Ann and therefore, Mary Hall, is wonderful. I can only imagine how amazing it must be to feel as comfortable as Ann feels out in the wilderness of New Hampshire. I think it’s great that she took her experience growing up in the woods among nature and in the AMC and used it in this book. It must give her book a sincere, authentic feeling. It also reminds me of the beautiful descriptions of nature and the landscape in Wallace Stegner’s fantastic books. I was thrilled to read that Ann Joslin Williams is a Wallace Stegner fellow as he is one of my favorite authors. I cannot wait to read Down from Cascom Mountain!
    Thank you for this fantastic post

    Thank you for hosting a giveaway of Down from Cascomb Mountain. Please include me in it! The sound of large ocean waves as well as the lapping of water on the shoreline from a lake or calmer body of water like the Long Island Sound transport me back to my childhhod and provide a plethora of memories. I don’t live very close to the water now but I feel it in my bones. I know I will live close to it again, soon.

  1. What a great post! I can imagine that most children have the experience of getting lost at one time or another, and I can also imagine that it’s a tremendous relief to finally be found. I am looking forward to checking out this book when I can and would love to be entered in your giveaway. To answer your question, the natural thing that most resonates with me is the water. Something about the ocean, a pond, or even a stream seems to provoke such a deep response in me.


  2. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one Wendy. I love being outside in the wilderness and the mountains so I know I’d enjoy the setting of this book.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

    • anne on June 16, 2011 at 07:09

    Thanks for this great post which was lovely and the fascinating giveaway. A locale that always made me feel that I was in another era and place was our summer week spent on the shores of Lake Huron. This great lake was so impressive and amazing it felt like I was at the ocean. We would spend the entire day on the beach which had real sand and just gaze at the shoreline and the waves. In the evening we would walk along the shore and enjoy this peaceful time.

    • Melanie on June 16, 2011 at 09:44

    Thanks for sharing. There just aren’t enough books written that are set in New Hampshire. When I read the synopsis, it made me think of Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer for some reason. So I need to read this and see. I love to sit and watch trees. They are so many colors of green. And home to so many creatures.

  3. What a wonderful insight into the novel (which I enjoyed!) You don’t need to enter me, but I’m so glad to see more of how art imitates life.

  4. Wow, there isn’t just one thing that I adore about the outdoors. I think that as a hopeless extrovert, usually so addicted to people, the one place I have always found comfort in solitude is in nature. I can find total peace in the woods or out in a kayak at day break. When I’m in the great wide open, I feel like I HAVE the world with me and can be alone with everything around me.

    • Liz V. on June 16, 2011 at 14:57

    Thank you for hosting Ann Joslin Williams and offering Down From Cascom Mountain as a giveaway.

    The infinite variety of nature astounds me, so much of it breathtakingly lovely.

    • Sheila K. on June 16, 2011 at 15:28

    I am totally head-over heels completely in love with everything feline!

    • Elisabeth on June 16, 2011 at 17:43

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    Having been knocked down by ocean waves, and blown by gale force winds, the power of mother nature.

  5. I love windy days, watching the wind blow and bend the trees and tall grass. The sounds of the breeze moving through the leaves. Seeing the storm clouds moving in. Love it!

    • Tiffany D. on June 17, 2011 at 13:33

    The few minutes before a thunderstorm is my favorite thing about nature. The sy gets dark, the wind is cool and at its best. I love the anticiation of rain and the smell when it finally comes. There is nothing more relaxing than sitting by an open window listening to rain and reading a good book.

    Thank you for the chance at winning this book. I have lived in New Hampshire my entire life and I always love finding books situated here. I would love to give this a read!


    • Kay on June 19, 2011 at 12:18

    I remember when we moved from my home of Austin, TX to Portland, OR, I was filled with such a sense of wonder at the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. It was almost like living in a cloud. I’ve always loved the mountains and have many favorite spots in Colorado, but the Cascade Mountains took my breath away. Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Three Sisters – the fact that I could look out of a window in my house in July (when the clouds finally were gone) and see a towering peak with snow on it was just amazing. There were plants that are only sold in shops in Texas just growing wild by the side of the road. And the fruits and berries. Amazing. My heart belongs to Texas, but my soul is in the Pacific Northwest. 🙂

    Throw my name in the hat, Wendy.

    • pburt on June 19, 2011 at 13:16

    One day in the early spring, a co-worker and I were driving down through the Palouse of Eastern Washington on our way to a meeting. The friend remarked at how boring the scenery was and I was astounded at what she couldn’t see. The Palouse is gently rolling hills populated with wheat farms. In the early spring, after the winter wheat is harvested, the fields are full of yellows, golds, and browns – you can see the tractor paths on the hills and when the sun is shinning, you see the play of light and shadow. Every corner gave me a new perspective of subtle beauty.

    I felt the same way about the Bosque of New Mexico. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Autumn we have in Washington, but coming down a hill looking at the Rio Grande in the fall and seeing the cottonwoods with their ever so slightly change color, was magical.

    I do love the dramatics of landscape – the ocean, a waterfall, a storm – but I would take the subtleties anytime, the change of the air in fall to a cold crisp, the way a snowfall both erases and highlights lines, the gentle bubble of a mountain stream.

    Thanks for the question – it was fun to answer.

  6. I have always loved trees. I loved climbing them when I was a little girl. I love looking at them, especially when the colors start changing in the Fall. The death of a tree makes me very sad because most trees are old souls.

    This book sounds so amazing! Thanks for the giveaway!

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