The Scent of Rain
Publisher: Treehouse Publishing Group, an imprint of Amphorae Publishing Group
Page Count: 386
Genre: Young Adult fiction (social themes, physical & emotional abuse)
ISBN: Paperback: 9780996390149 - $15.95 / E-book: 9780996390156 - $9.99
Distributed by Midpoint Trade – firstname.lastname@example.org
Two Arizona teens find their fates intertwined. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?
Rose Madsen will do anything to keep from being married off to one of the men in her Fundamentalist Mormon community, even endure the continued beatings and abuse of her mother. But when her mentally handicapped baby sister is forced to strangle the bird she loves at the behest of the Prophet, Rose frees the bird and runs away. Adan Reyes will do anything to escape the abusive foster care system in Phoenix, even leaving his good friends and successful high school athletic career behind him. Ill-prepared for surviving in the desert, Adan hits the road only to suffer heat stroke. After being rescued by a local handyman, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious girl running through town, and follows her into the mountains where they are both tracked and discovered by the men of the FLDS community.
Anne Butler Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. Her first TV job came at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, and led to positions at WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, and ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter. She finished her on‐camera broadcasting career with a two‐year stint as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery was a freelance and/or staff reporter for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces. Her two previous novels are A Light in the Desert and Nothing But Echoes. Montgomery teaches journalism at South Mountain High School in Phoenix, is a foster mom to three sons, and is an Arizona Interscholastic Association football referee and crew chief. When she can, she indulges in her passions: rock collecting, football officiating, scuba diving, and playing her guitar.
Questions and Answers with Anne Montgomery
The Scent of Rain takes on some difficult topics – polygamy, cults, misogyny, illegal immigration, and deportation – just to name a few, so what was your inspiration?
I have lived in Arizona for about 25 years. As an avid consumer of current events – yes, I’m a news junkie – it was hard to ignored the reports coming out of the twin towns of Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah. I was astonished when I learned about the radical Mormon sect that lives on what is called the Arizona Strip and their tradition of marrying underage girls, some as young as twelve, to old men. The fact that this behavior could thrive inside the confines of the United States continues to shock me. I wanted to learn more about these people, who – in this time of technology with its cellphones and Internet and 24-hour news cycles – live mostly without any connection to the outside world.
What did you do to research for this book?
As a former reporter, I greatly enjoy digging for a story. I read articles about Colorado City and conducted interviews with people who had lived and worked in the community, including Flora Jessop, who escaped twice from the cult and today works with the Child Protection Project: an anti-child abuse group that helps women and girls escape from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The stories Flora told me were so harrowing that to this day I have not listened the three-hour recording of our interview session. The images were burned into my brain. I also interviewed Dr. Theodore Tarby, who bravely confronted the cult members, asking them to refrain from marrying and reproducing with their close relatives, after he discovered that the cause of the awful birth defects in the community were the result of incest. Unfortunately, Dr. Tarby was ignored.
You have a background in broadcasting, sports writing, and other freelance work. When did you decide to start writing fiction? Why?
As most women who ply their trade in front of a TV camera will tell you, we have a shelf life. Once one is nearing forty, we are suddenly no longer qualified to do our jobs. When my contract at ESPN was not renewed, I began writing fiction. (I was unemployed and rather desperate for something to occupy my time.) However, all my novels are based on real events or situations. In A Light in the Desert, a novel about the deadly sabotage of the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train that was derailed in the Arizona desert in 1995, I wrote about child abuse, teen pregnancy, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as well as the crime. My historical fiction novel Nothing But Echoes, details the problems of archaeological looting, black market sales of antiquities, and the question of when Europeans first inhabited the Americas. In The Scent of Rain, I again tackle child abuse and also polygamy, and cults. So the theme, I guess, is that while I write fiction, my stories are based on facts: not the plot line, necessarily, but the details that support the story line.
What is your favorite part of The Scent of Rain? What did you enjoy writing about the most? Why?
I am most happy in the wilderness. The state of Arizona is one of the most wondrous wild areas I have ever explored. We have the incredibly diverse Sonoran Desert, as well as mountains and canyons and rivers and forests. I have seen much of the state because I’m a rock collector. (It’s true. I have about 400 specimens just in my living room. Friends know not to ask about them if I’ve had a glass of wine because I then feel compelled to explain when and where I found each one, whether they want to know or not.) Before researching The Scent of Rain, I had not traveled to the Arizona Strip. I was thrilled by the stark beauty of the area. Zion National Park is just a short drive from Colorado City. The thing I enjoyed most about writing the manuscript was incorporating descriptions of the landscape into the story.
Who is your favorite character?
What role did he or she play in moving the plot forward? That’s a tough question. Like asking a mom to name her favorite child. Still, there would be no story without Rose. I’m a high school teacher, and to have a student like her would be a delight. I admire her enthusiasm, her determination to find answers to the natural world around her, and her efforts to reconcile the beliefs of the strange community in which she was raised with all the new things she learns about the outside world. My second favorite character is Adan. Through some strange twist, I became a foster mom at 55. As I never had any biological children, you can imagine what suddenly having a 15-year-old boy in my home was like. Adan reminds me of my first son, Brandon. I now have three boys who call me mom.
How did you find a balance between light and dark/humor and levity in your narrative?
The subjects I write about tend toward darkness, however, I know as a reader that I search for the element of hope in stories. I feel it’s my job as a writer to provide characters with a positive way out, faith that their lives will get better. In real life, most of us have days that are generally sprinkled with all kinds of emotions, so in the interest of making the characters multi-dimensional, there must be balance. Also, I’m fortunate that there is a lot of humor in my world, thanks to my beau of 23 years. We laugh a lot. Whenever my students or my boys ask me about dating, I tell them to make sure they find someone who makes them laugh.
What do you think readers will enjoy most about The Scent of Rain?
Readers of my other novels have told me that they truly enjoy my diverse cast of characters. I think the same will be true of The Scent of Rain. But I also think it’s interesting to read about places that look and feel and smell differently than those we normally inhabit. I consider a book’s setting like a main character. In this case, I hope the readers will delight in the wild lands of northern Arizona.