At the foot of the Continental Divide, rancher Frank Redmond struggles to maintain his land amidst the bleakness of Depression-era Montana. Married but childless, Frank’s wondering if the long-term future of the ranch is worth the effort. For that matter, he’s considering much the same about his wife Abby.
When a stray dog wanders onto the ranch, Frank’s first impulse is to shoot it as vermin. Abby and Clay, Frank’s father, insist on adopting the mutt, naming him Stranger.
For Frank, it’s both the last straw and a convenient excuse. He parlays his skill as a stone carver into a job at Deer Lodge state prison, fifty miles from home. There he labors over a headstone for the warden’s terminally ill wife.
When he finally returns home, he finds Stranger more a member of the family than himself. Frank needs to regain his family’s trust and prove himself. To do so, he’ll need to emulate the dog he once considered killing.
A pensively introspective but hard-hitting read, Stranger’s Dance delves into the challenges and desperation of Montana ranch life in the 1930s and how animals can prove the catalyst for human healing.
Q. What inspires your writing?
A. I was very blessed to have grown up on a ranch at the base of the Continental Divide in Montana. My interactions with the animals and the land is what inspires me to write as it allows me to connect deep, human stories with the environment that they take place in.
Q. What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
A. Feedback from readers who share about how certain parts of a book invoked powerful emotions. It means that I not only did what I intended but also that, for a brief moment, that person had been transported by my words to another place and time. I can’t help but smile when I get that part right.
Q. What is the toughest part of being a writer?
A. That requires a two part answer: First is marketing, trying to make your work stand out among a sea of other novels is a daunting task and to be honest, a little disheartening at times. Second is revisions. I like to describe revisions as being like having a vital organ removed by a drunk orangutan while not having any anesthesia. A painful affair indeed. :D
Q. If you could not be writer, what would you do/be?
A. Well my day job currently is being a CAD/Design Manager for a civil engineering firm. My dream is to eventually write full time but for now I push dirt around with a mouse.
Q. What would the story of your life be entitled?
A. It’s a Rott’n Life. It is the title of a draft book that was a collection of short stories about my effort to start Big Sky Rottweiler Rescue and about many of the dogs we rescued in the first few years.
Q. What is your favorite book of all time?
A. From a life standpoint I have to say the Bible as I read it often. For enjoyment I would have to say Old Man and the Sea by Hemmingway. I don’t care how many times I read it I still find enjoyment in its simplicity of form and depth of story.
Q. Which character from ANY book are you most like?
A. Gimli from The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien.
Q. What character from all of your book are you most like?
A. From Stranger’s Dance I would say Clay and in my upcoming novel I would lean towards Tom but you will just have to wait for that to see what he is like :D
Q. Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?
A. The Shire from The Hobbit.
Q. What is your favorite season?
A. Fall, no question about it. September and October in Montana is perfect in my mind.
Q. What inspired your book cover(s)? Or what is your favorite book cover and why?
A. The cover for Stranger’s Dance is a compilation of two photographs that I took. The main image is of twin trees in a hay meadow with a mountain range in the background. That is actually near the location of where the book is set and I took it on one of many research trips. The other image is the eyes of a dog. That is my late boy Griz, a Rottweiler/Malamute mix who I had for 13 years. He was one of several dogs that helped inspire the character of Stranger.
Q. Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.
A. My first book signing is in October so I can’t report anything humorous thus far.
Q. Are you working on something new?
A. Yes, I’m currently neck deep in revisions on my second novel which ties into Stranger’s Dance but can be a standalone novel.
Q. Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
A. It is encouraging to know that readers still exist in large numbers. I know so many adults who simply don’t read and if they do read a book it is about once every couple years.