Gold and potatoes: Local authors talk at BookPeople

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Gold and potatoes: Local authors talk at BookPeople

BookPeople's Author Saturday talks will feature three local authors, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014.

BookPeople's Author Saturday talks will feature three local authors, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014.

BookPeople's Author Saturday talks will feature three local authors, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014.

BookPeople's Author Saturday talks will feature three local authors, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014.

BY CATHERINE KRUSE | Evergreen reporter

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Of all the places to find Gem State historians, riverboats and a poet in the same vicinity, how many people would think of a bookstore?

Author Saturday is an event at BookPeople of Moscow where three or four local authors are brought into the store to talk about their books. Each author is given one hour to present, including reading from the featured book and a question-answer session.

“In the past we’ve had historians, fiction, memoir (and) mysteries,” said Carol Spurling, manager and co-owner of BookPeople. “A lot of the time we’ll have historians who have written some history of the region.”

Although each Author Saturday is without a theme, Spurling said they were lucky to get the inclusion of two historical works in the lineup. Also appearing will be a poet with her book of poetry.

The first book presented will be “Idaho’s Place: A New History of the Gem State,” an anthology of essays on Idaho history edited by UI associate professor Adam Sowards.

The second book, also a historical novel, is “Timothy Nolan’s Idaho,” by 2010 Esto Perpetua award winner and self-published author Carole Simon-Smolinski.

The final work will be “Another Autumn,” a collection of poems written by author and WSU alumnus Yvonne Leach.

“The reason for having this is to highlight local authors and local talents,” Spurling said. “It’s still important for the community to have people writing and doing history and literature and poetry.”

Professor of history Katherine Aiken and professor of ethnography Rodney Frey will accompany Sowards in the presentation of the book, each of them having contributed essays to the collection.

“What I tried to do was bring together some of the top scholars in the field to synthesize the history of Idaho and provide up-to-date and insightful analyses,” Sowards said.

One feature of the book is oral histories called “Idaho Voices,” snippets and stories of the lives of native Idahoans. Topics of the essays cover a wide range such as politics, religion, women, culture and ethnic groups.

Already knowing the topics he wanted, Sowards reached out to authors and experts of Idaho history. The historians and Sowards would go back and forth with the essays, revising and editing and preparing them to be put together in a book.

“You can never have a history book that is complete, but I try to be as complete as possible,” he said.

Simon-Smolinski’s book tells the historically-accurate story of the fictional main character, Timothy Nolan, in territorial Idaho in 1862. A reminiscent novel, Simon-Smolinski described the story as Timothy looking back at the 25 years he spent in Idaho, primarily in Lewiston.

One of the critical development aspects of this era in Idaho history was the use of the riverboats, Simon-Smolinski said. The discovery of gold in Lewiston brought people to Idaho, riding riverboats traveling on the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

After the gold fever died down, the riverboats continued to transport grain and people in and out of Idaho.

“I would like people on the Palouse to know about (the book),” Simon-Smolinski said. “(This is) a fascinating area that not much history has been written about.”

Primarily a poet, Leach has been writing since she was 12 and earned an English degree while studying at WSU.  She described “Another Autumn” as a collection of poems illustrating the last 25 years of her life. The short poems cover topics from Leach’s childhood to the past three years when she dealt with losing her father.

“If they were to read the book cover to cover they were exposed to different aspects of a woman’s life who raised a family, had a career, be part of a large Irish Catholic family,” she said. “(They get) a special window into that life.”

The poems deal with family, love, connection, and separation. Overall, they are very relationship-based, Leach said. This includes the relationship between a man and woman in marriage and the connection between a mother and her daughters, based around Leach’s own relationships with her family.

“One poem (is) about when I was pregnant with my third daughter,” Leach said. “What that’s like to be growing another human inside you (and) how I was feeling so connected to nature.”

Author Saturday will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at BookPeople of Moscow. The event is free.