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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘Kingdom Mountain’ author making tour stop at Auntie’s

Howard Frank Mosher is a natural raconteur.

In a 20-minute phone interview, you’re apt to find out a number of things. That he’s in the midst of a 100-city book tour in support of his latest novel, “On Kingdom Mountain,” for example – a tour that will bring him to Auntie’s Bookstore at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Or that his “sharped-tongued” great-aunt, the inspiration for a character in the book, “would scold all of her great-nephews and then read them Charles Dickens.”

Or that Wallace Stegner refused to blurb Mosher’s first novel, “Disappearances,” a comic story about whiskey smuggling, because he deemed it a “hymn to irresponsibility.”

The novel Mosher is now hawking is his ninth, and his 10th book overall. It’s set in the same area as most of his work: the corner of northeast Vermont known as the Northeast Kingdom.

Set in 1930, “On Kingdom Mountain” revolves around two characters: a local eccentric named Miss Jane Hubbell Kinneson, sole resident and self-appointed protector of Kingdom Mountain, and a stunt pilot named Henry Satterfield.

Together they take on the local officials who want to build a highway to the mountain. In addition, they seek out $100,000 in stolen Civil War gold that’s supposed to be buried somewhere on Miss Jane’s property.

“The novel has some humor, some magical realism and in some ways is about preserving the wilderness,” Mosher said, “but I never really say that.”

In his review of “On Kingdom Mountain,” Associated Press writer Bruce DeSilva wrote, “This superbly written novel is at once a whimsical love story, a lament for the wild lands that have been lost, and an unflinching examination of the American national character.”

The title of Mosher’s slide-show/reading is “Where in the World is Kingdom County?” He’ll talk about his tour, about the inspiration for “On Kingdom Mountain,” about the three movies that have been made from his books (including the most recent, 2006’s “Disappearances”) and the mechanics of the writing process.

Maybe he’ll even expand on Stegner, with whom he later became friends.

In the process, Mosher is likely to drop an anecdote or two similar to the one about the Vermont horse-logger he worked with 40 years ago when he was just starting out as a writer.

“I thought that would be something interesting to do and maybe a window into a different part of the Northeast Kingdom,” Mosher said.

What he ended up hearing were the many whiskey-running stories that ended up in “Disappearances.”

“That was the kind of experience I needed in order to do what it was I wanted to do, which was to write fiction,” Mosher said.

But, he added, “There were many times working up in the woods with that guy and trying to make that 22-year-old logging horse behave that I wondered what the hell I had done with my life.”

Jump for Jance

No mystery writer works harder than J.A. Jance. The author, who splits time between Seattle and Tucson, Ariz., has written more than 30 novels since her debut publication, 1985’s “Until Proven Guilty.”

That novel, which introduced readers to Jance’s primary character – Seattle homicide detective J.P. Beaumont – represents only one of the author’s series. She also writes novels about Cochise County, Ariz., Sheriff Joanna Brady and former TV news anchor/blogger Ali Reynolds.

Jance’s latest novel, “Justice Denied” (William Morrow, 371 pages, $25.95) – from which she will read at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Auntie’s Bookstore – has Beaumont investigating the murder of a former drug dealer (and a number of other suspicious deaths/disappearances), while Beaumont’s lover/colleague Mel Soames looks into the unusual demises of several registered sex offenders.

The word on art

Ben Mitchell, curator of art for the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, will talk about “inspiring artists” at 7 tonight at Area 58, 3036 N. Monroe St.

Preceding the free talk, which is titled “Notes on Art, Nature and Culture,” local folk artist Bill Wylie will play original piano and banjo music.

Mitchell said his talk will introduce “a few of the artists whose work really moves me: James Turrell, Wolfgang Lieb and Agnes Martin, among them.”

And since his background is in creative writing, Mitchell added, “I’m sure Emily Dickinson, Sam Shepard and a few other writers will show up in there, too.”

A question-and-answer session will follow. For more information, call Area 58 at (509) 327-0427.

The reader board

“J.A. Jance (“Justice Denied”), reading, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Auntie’s Bookstore, Main and Washington. Call (509) 838-0206.

“Marianne Love (“Lessons with Love: Tales of Teaching and Learning in a Small-town High School”), reading, 2 p.m. Saturday, Coeur d’Alene Hastings, 101 Best Ave. Call (208) 664-0464.

“Howard Frank Mosher (“On Kingdom Mountain”), reading/slide show, 4-5 p.m. Saturday, Auntie’s Bookstore.