Down From Cascom Mountain, by Ann Joslin Williams
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…
ABOUT THE BOOK:
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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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.
BOOK GIVE AWAY
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!!