Interview

Get your Tickets! Senator Jon Tester Shares His New Book Grounded

Join Senator Jon Tester for a virtual discussion of his new book Grounded: A Senator's Lessons on Winning Back Rural America. An inspiring and eye-opening memoir showing how Democrats can reconnect with rural and red-state voters, from Montana’s three-term democratic senator.

 Your ticket includes a copy of Grounded  with signed book plate, and a unique link to join this virtual conversation.

Senator Jon Tester is a rare voice in Congress. He is the only United States senator who manages a full-time job outside of the Senate—as a farmer. But what has really come to distinguish Tester in the Senate is his commitment to accountability, his ability to stand up to Donald Trump, and his success in, time and again, winning red state voters back to the Democratic Party.

In Grounded, Tester shares his early life, his rise in the Democratic party, his vision for helping rural America, and his strategies for reaching red state voters. Leaning deeply into lessons on the value of authenticity and hard work that he learned growing up on his family’s 1,800-acre farm near the small town of Big Sandy, Montana—the same farm he continues to work today with his wife, Sharla—Tester has made his political career a testament to crossing the divides of class and geography. The media and Democrats too often discount rural people as Trump supporters; Tester knows better. His voice is vital to the public discourse as we seek to understand the issues that are important to rural and working-class America in not just the 2020 election but also for years to come.

A heartfelt and inspiring memoir from a courageous voice, Grounded shows us that the biggest threat to our democracy isn’t a president who has no moral compass. It’s politicians who don’t understand the value of accountability and hard work. Tester demonstrates that if American democracy is to survive, we must put our trust in the values that keep us grounded.

Tester will be joined in conversation by author Sarah Vowell.

Sarah Vowell is the New York Times’ bestselling author of seven nonfiction books on American history and culture. Her most recent book is entitled Lafayette in the Somewhat United States.

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Russell Rowland and Cold Country

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!

 
Books: 
Cold Country Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781945814921
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Dzanc Books - November 12th, 2019

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An interview With Author Grady Hendrix

Bookseller Harry is back with a review of Grady Hendrix’s new release The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. “We’re a book club. What are we supposed to do? Read him to death?” A group of tired and unappreciated moms get together to read true crime, drink wine, and form meaningful friendships when a vampire moves to town. We've all been there, right? I honestly can't tell you how much I loved this book. This book kept me up many a sleepless night as I finished just one more chapter, got actually frustrated at antagonists, and cheered for the protagonists. I feel like Grady gets better and better with each new book, and I never wanted this story to end. I was able to ask him a few questions about The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. Check it out!

Harry J: Best Friend's Exorcism and Southern Book Club's Guide both have a strong theme of overcoming monsters with the power of female bonds. Is there a specific reason for this? 

Grady Hendrix: Unhappy endings always feel like you stopped telling the story too early, because life goes on and I always want to know what happens next. Unhappy endings just feel cheap and unrealistic to me. Cynicism is a sad and pointless way to look at the world. 

HJ: How much is the protagonist in The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires based off of your actual mother? 

GH: Every character I write is based on a real person, whether it’s someone I know or someone I see on the subway, but by the time they make it to the page, they’re virtually unrecognizable. Patricia has some things in common with my mom — they’re both former nurses, they both belong to book clubs, they’re both parents — but Patricia is a lot more naive than my mom. On the other hand, she’s also a lot more likely to try to kill a vampire than my mom.

HJ: You seem to favor strong female protagonists fighting against paranormal odds in your books. What inspired this? 

GH: I have no idea why I seem incapable of writing male characters. It’s clearly something I need to address with my therapist! Guys just don’t interest me as much.

HJ: What gave you the idea for The Southern Book Club's Guide? 

GH: I’ve always wanted to write a book about adult friendship and I’ve known the women in my mom’s book club since I was a kid. The longer I knew them the more interesting they became, but when I initially suggested this book to my editor they really pushed back against it, telling me that no one was interested in reading about a bunch of middle-aged housewives. That sealed the deal: I was going to write this book no matter what.

HJ: If Southern Book Club’s Guide became a movie or tv series, what would be your ideal casting? (Mine would be Winona Ryder for Patricia and Chris Sarandon for James Harris.)

GH: I like the Winona Ryder idea, but I have a hard time with these kinds of questions because I feel like I’ll jinx things. But if Patrick Wilson was younger, he’d be a great James Harris, and I’d love to see Octavia Spencer as Mrs. Greene. 

HJ: You've already covered a number of horrifying things; vampires, demons, Ikea. What's the next monster that you'd like to (forgive the pun) sink your teeth into?

GH: I actually already have a monster and their book is slated for publication in June 2021. So I’m not saying anything until closer to that date. But I will say that the one monster I really want to write and can’t find a way into: werewolves. I love werewolves but I just can’t seem to find that extra piece that makes them work for me. But maybe I’m just not inspired enough? I’m going to keep wandering around the moors at night and waiting to be bitten.

Books: 
Staff Pick Badge
The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires: A Novel Cover Image
$22.99
ISBN: 9781683691433
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Quirk Books - April 7th, 2020

Q&A with Pete Fromm for A Job You Mostly Won't Know How to Do

We are very excited to welcome Pete Fromm back to the Country Bookshelf on June 11th for his new novel - A Job You Mostly Won’t Know How to Do. Bookseller Wendy Blake loved it:

Marnie and Taz have it all-they love, laugh and work together, sneak off to swim at their secret spot, and now they are starting a family. But Marnie dies in childbirth, leaving Taz to cope with his incredible loss...and his new baby daughter. Following Taz's sometimes bumbling first two years as a father, I found myself laughing and crying on the same page. Pete Fromm writes so beautifully about the confusing mix of grief and love, and what being a family really means.

Wendy had a couple questions for Pete:

Wendy Blake: The river scenes first with Marnie and later with Midge are so wonderful! Can you tell us about your favorite rivers and how they wove their way into the book?

Pete Fromm: Some of my favorite rivers? Oh boy. I was a river ranger on the Snake in Grand Teton National Park for six years, floating it nearly every day, so that one's right up there, and even figured in my last novel, If Not for This. Another season on the Rio Grande, in Big Bend NP. A winter on the Selway. Countless trips on the Blackfoot, Bitterroot, Missouri, Smith, some on the Flatheads, Madison, Yellowstone, Salmon, Wind, Green. Really it gets ridiculous, but rivers have been a huge part of my life, so much so, that when Taz and Marnie found their perfect swimming hole it really became parts of several favorites of mine from Montana, Idaho and even Texas.

WB: Parenting is, of course, the “job” of the title. You are a parent…is Taz you or is his parenting style different than yours? Also, are Elmo and Rudy also Midge’s “parents” in a way?

PF: No, Taz is not me. You find out pretty quickly that you're not interesting enough to become your characters. But, I did spend many, many nights without much sleep when our sons were young, so it wasn't hard to go into those details, or to find ways for Taz to spend time with Midge, wonder on what he should be doing, what he might be doing wrong. Maybe Taz and I both leaned toward the edge of raising feral children.

And of course Elmo becomes very much a parent to Midge, and Rudy too, speaking of feral parenting.

WB: How did Marnie’s dying in childbirth, leaving Taz as the sole parent become a part of the plot? Did someone you know have that experience? Also, tell us about having Marnie’s voice continue in the book, helping Taz even after her death.

PF: This whole story actually began with a student slapping me in the chest with a copy of Glimmer Train magazine, telling me to read "The Hospital," by Silas Dent Zobel, and then tell him if was a sap for crying. He wasn't. A very moving story of a man whose wife dies in childbirth, it ends with the father taking his first step out of the hospital with this new baby. It was the right end for the story, but I thought, Wow, that's really just the beginning for a much bigger story. So, the next day I started Taz's story; a semi-employed carpenter walking into the half-demolished fixer upper he and his wife had been renovating, alone with this newborn, no idea how to make one move forward. I thought it would be a story of Taz raising this child alone, but almost immediately his best friend showed up to help, making me realize that he was not alone, that none of us really are. More people showed up, family, friends, and, yes, even his wife, not in any ghostly way, but just Taz still so close to her that he could imagine (hear?) what she would say to him from time to time. It acts as another way to show how he is not really as alone as he thought at the outset.

Join us for more from Pete Fromm on Tuesday, June 11th at 6pm. Don’t forget to get your exclusive signed edition, available only at Country Bookshelf.

 
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Q&A with Grady Hendrix

Country Bookshelf's horror officianado Harry took a moment to chat with author Grady Hendrix about his newest title We Sold Our Souls

Harry: You're obviously a relative expert on Horror fiction. What is it about the genre that drew you to it? 

Grady: I’m not an expert on anything, but that’s nice of you to say. I never read much horror as a kid because the covers scared me too much, but as I got older I found myself going back to horror again and again because it’s the one genre that deals with death, and death is what gives our lives meaning. So to me, it’s kind of the only genre that matters.

 

H: My Best Friend's Exorcism had songs as chapter titles and We Sold Our Souls is all about metal. Do you have a background in music? Do you play an instrument? Do you have a favorite genre?

G: I am about as musical as a brick, but music saved my life in high school. Being able to listen to music while driving to school was what got me through my day, and that feeling has lasted my entire life. I have huge emotional reactions to some songs and I’m an ugly crier, so I’m sure there are people on the subway who look at this red-faced crybaby wearing earbuds and rapidly move away. I’ve never played an instrument, or at least not in a way that wasn’t considered a crime in some states, but I did take a few months of guitar lessons while writing We Sold Our Souls because my main character played guitar and I needed to know what that felt like.

 

H: Is there a type of horror story that you prefer over others? Do you prefer something psychological or supernatural? 

G: I’ll take horror in all shapes and sizes. While writing Paperbacks from Hell, my history of the horror paperback boom of the Seventies and Eighties, I read hundreds of horror paperbacks I never would have otherwise touched and I found so many books I loved that I’ve learned not to have standards. Life’s more fun when you have no taste.

 

H: What's your process for making something scary? Is there any personal experience involved?

G: Writing is all about personal experience. We Sold Our Souls was a deeply personal book full of things that really happened to me — living on the road for a while, finding a dead body in a cemetery, arriving at Las Vegas late at night, eating in parking lots, feeling trapped in a bad contract, being broke, working miserable jobs. But writing also has the reverse effect: focusing on a book so hard for so long (it takes me about 6 months to write a novel) and the book begins to warp your life. You find things you write about happening in reality. You see parallels between the book and what’s going on around you. Emotionally, We Sold Our Souls is a really bleak book and I sunk into a bad depression while writing it. Getting my main character, Kris Pulaski, through all that horror and despair was how I got myself through it, too.

 

H: What's your favorite horror story? Book, movie, anything.

G: I’m going to change the question a little: one of my favorite books of all time, and one not enough people talk about, is Charles Portis’s True Grit. I re-read it every couple of years and as far as I’m concerned it’s the Great American Novel. Sure, Huckleberry Finn was the Great American Novel of the 19th century, but True Grit is the Great American Novel of the 20th century. It’s a hard-edged Western, narrated by a fourteen-year-old girl, and it’s all about how we needed tough people to build our country, but once they’ve done their job and made the world safe for rules, and banks, and law and order, we don’t need them anymore and they kind of embarrass us a little bit. It’s also very, very funny.

Harry praised We Sold Our Souls - on sale Tuesday, 9/18 - saying: "Harry praised the book, saying "At first I was like this isn't as good as My Best Friend's Exorcism, and then I got into and I was like 'This book rocks!' Grady Hendrix is a genius and I will never doubt him again!" Harry chatted with Grady about the book on our blog, check out this highlight." Pre-order your copy today and let's get metal!

Books: 
We Sold Our Souls: A Novel Cover Image
Email or call for price & availability
ISBN: 9781683690122
Availability: Not Currently Available to Order
Published: Quirk Books - September 18th, 2018

Q & A with Christine Carbo

We're so excited to welcome Montana author Christine Carbo to the store to share her newest mystery thriller- A Sharp Solitude. We love a good Montana mystery and Wendy, our Mystery Maven says: "My favorite part of Christine Carbo’s mysteries are that they are set in Glacier National Park, with all its beauty and wildness! While not a 'series,' they have interlocking characters, so a minor character in one book may become the main character in the next book. I like that because it means readers don’t have to read the books exactly in order, but they all go together." In anticipation of Christine's new book, Wendy had a few questions for Christine.

W: You seem to know a lot about many places in Glacier National Park-how much time do you get to
spend there?


Christine: Since I became published about four years ago, my life has gotten extremely busy and has included much
more air travel, which means I have less time for hiking and getting into Glacier in general. I still try to go
several times a year though, and I try to go once or twice during each off-season. I love the park in the fall, but
summer is my favorite, even with how insanely busy it gets.

 

W:  Is it harder to write from a male character’s perspective, and how do you do research for that?
 

C: In my latest book, I have two main characters: one female, one male. The female plays a bigger role in the
story, but I don’t find it too difficult to write from the male perspective. I grew up with two older brothers, so I
tagged along quite a bit, and that allowed me to see the world through a male’s viewpoint some of the time. I
think that ended up helping me quite a bit. However, mostly, what I try to do is write about a human with a
particular set of problems and then go about how that particular human being (male or female) would go about
solving those problems. Sometimes a male will go about things differently than a female precisely because of
their gender, but I find that emotions are emotions, and we all have them. There are, of course, nuances in how
those emotions get expressed or dealt with, and I try to be true to how I think a character would operate given
their circumstances. In general though, I try not to get too hung up on gender.

 

W: What is your process for starting a new book, and how long does it take to write a book?
 

C: Oh gosh, I’m not sure I have a good grasp on that process. It seems to change with each book, and is usually a
messy, disorganized process. Often, some nugget of an idea from something I’ve heard, read or thought about
in my past will stay with me or keep coming back to me, which makes me realize I have an idea that interests
me enough to dive deeper into it and develop it into a story. Then, when I finally come up with some form of a
suspenseful situation or premise (not necessarily a plot yet), I’ll begin to mull it over and take random notes. At
some point, I know I just need to start writing, even if I don’t have it all figured out. I often write without an
outline, and poke my way forward in the dark. Eventually I get there, but sometimes I wish I was more
organized from the get-go. Creativity can be a messy process for some writers, and I happen to be one of
those whether I want to be or not.

 

W:. Do you know the whole story ahead of time or does it develop as you write?
 

C: Oops, I think I just answered this above. I definitely don’t have the whole story figured out ahead of time, not
even close. Sometimes I know the perpetrator and work toward that ending, but with two of my books, I didn’t,
so I wrote several options into the story to give myself choices as I got closer to the end. Like I said, it can be a
little messy, but for me, that’s the beauty and magic of the process. Somehow, the muse seems to kick in and it
all begins to come together as if I really had a master plan all along. It can be very frustrating, but when it all
begins to come together, it’s immensely satisfying.

 

Christine Carbo will be sharing her newest book A Sharp Solitude at the store on Wednesday July 18th at 6pm. Be sure to stop by for this and more!

Books: 
A Sharp Solitude: A Novel of Suspense (Glacier Mystery Series #4) Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781501156335
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Atria Books - May 29th, 2018

The Weight of Night: A Novel of Suspense (Glacier Mystery Series #3) Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781501156236
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Atria Books - June 6th, 2017

Mortal Fall: A Novel of Suspense (Glacier Mystery Series #2) Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781476775470
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Atria Books - May 31st, 2016

The Wild Inside: A Novel of Suspense (Glacier Mystery Series #1) Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781476775456
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Atria Books - June 16th, 2015

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