We checked in with local author Russell Rowland about his newest book Cold Country:
He was kind enough to answer some fan questions for our blog!
Mike Penfold asks: I love Cold Country. The characters you developed in Cold Country seemed real. Did you have in mind specific people you know as you developed these people?
Russell Rowland: Thank you, Mike! This book is very loosely based on a period in my life, when I was ten years old and my father took a job managing a ranch near Ranchester, Wyoming. So yes, many of these characters are based on people from that small ranching community. Which is why I moved the story to Paradise Valley and obviously changed the names.
LuAnne Halligan Carbaugh: Do you have different strategies when approaching writing your books? You’ve written both fiction and non-fiction, so I was just wondering if the process was different as you worked through your writing.
RR: Hello LuAnne! Yes, each book does seem to require a slightly different approach. And of course that's especially true in the case of nonfiction vs. fiction. I was kind of surprised when I started writing Fifty-Six Counties, how hard it was for me to stick to facts. It's so much more fun to make shit up. But in the case of my novels, the story really dictates what's different about how I tell the story. In the case of Cold Country, the more times I edited this book (I was working on it for more than 15 years), the more I realized I needed to pull back on the drama. I think the initial tendency in writing a story that has action in it is to go overboard with the action. But understatement has always been way more effective, in my opinion. Plus it's closer to real life. And it's more my style. Great question!
Patricia Calaghan: A reviewer found the opening scene shocking. I found it powerfully real and moving, maybe because I grew up on a farm. Were you surprised at her reaction and have you heard that reaction from others?
RR: Hey Pat - I'm not sure what review you're referring to, but I suppose it might be shocking to someone who hasn't grown up around that kind of thing. That opening scene is lifted directly from an incident that happened when I was ten, and accompanied my dad as he checked on the pregnant cattle on the ranch where we lived. It obviously made a huge impression on me, and I thought it provided a nice metaphor for much of what happens later in the book.
Sarie Mackay: Why did you write the book, and how does it fit into your growth as an author?
RR: Hey Sarie! Thanks for this excellent question. My main goal with this story was to explore how tragedy impacts a small, tight-knit community. And one of the secondary themes was how pretty much everyone in a community like this ends up feeling like a bit of an outsider, depending on how secure they are in themselves. So you have a couple like Junior and Angie, who are pretty comfortable in their own skin, and are thus less affected by the events around them. But people like Babe and Tom, or even the Logans, because they are fighting with some demons of their own, always feel a little out of step with what's happening around them, no matter how popular they are. The murder is really a secondary event in this story. It's much more about community dynamics. How Cold Country fits into my growth as a writer is harder to answer, but one thing this book allowed me to explore more is branching out into a new narrative approach. I've always stuck pretty closely to one point of view in my novels, but this one demanded more than one narrative POV in order to tell the story. It was harder than I expected to tell a story that way, but once it clicked, it was very satisfying to learn this new approach.
Don’t miss this great small town mystery- be sure to pick up your copy of Cold Country from Country Bookshelf today!