City mouse, country mouse – a sojourn in New York and Philly


I felt very much the latter during our trip East during the last couple of weeks. It was a whirlwind mixture of family time and business, the latter unusually rewarding (and the former pretty great, too.) For starters, after nearly six years of representation, I finally got to meet my agent, Barbara Braun, and her husband and associate, John Baker, in person. We met in a diner off Union Square in Manhattan and, despite my ability to get lost in my own backyard, I managed to get there just fine on the subway in time to enjoy a long conversation about writing and publishing.

Then we headed to Philadelphia, where for years I was lucky enough to be an on-and-off member of the legendary Rittenhouse Writers’ Group headed by James Rahn, author of Bloodnight. RWG graciously hosted a Montana reading and book signing at Michael Lieberman’s Hooloon Art gallery. During the Q-and-A afterward, a childhood neighbor from Delaware brought out the fact that Montana protagonist Lola Wicks takes her last name from the owners of a potato farm near our respective homes, and I also outed another friend of mine as the person upon whom the character of Lola’s feisty, funny best friend, Mary Alice, is based. (Sorry about killing her off, Joanne!)




Then it was back to New York, where we traveled to Sag Harbor at the far end of Long Island, where my publisher, The Permanent Press, is based. It’s a writerly area—John Steinbeck, Kurt Vonnegut and George Plimpton, among others, lived there—with long rolling beaches that, this time of years, were blissfully deserted. At a dinner with TPP publishers Marty and Judy Shepard (center and right), we watched as author Chris Knopf (Dead Anyway, Cries of the Lost) signed the papers to bring him into the company as a co-owner.

Throughout the trip, the country mouse feeling persisted. It’s been a long time now since I lived in a city. I left the Philadelphia area in 2001 and Denver in 2005. These last couple of weeks, we had much fun sampling the ethnic food to be found in Park Slope and Philly, attending a concert at Lincoln Center, and wandering the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. But in the end, I was happy to get home to my town where the elk roam the hill beyond my backyard, and to exult in the news that a bobcat has taken up residence in the neighborhood.  And, most of all, to get back into a writing routine that has Lola getting into all manner of trouble in the vast unpopulated spaces of Wyoming.

Maybe someday, though, I’ll plop her down in a city, see how she does on the subway, or have her abandon her usual cargo pants and hiking boots in favor of sashaying into Lincoln Center in a slinky dress and heels. Talk about trouble!

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