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Local author Tim Connor’s ‘Beautiful Wounds’ interweaves personal and historical narrative

Primarily a legal- and science-focused journalist for the majority of his life, local author, journalist and photographer Tim Connor has spent his career telling other people’s stories. But a few years back, during a period of profound grief and personal rediscovery, Connor finally took the time – in a somewhat roundabout way – to write his own story.

Connor will discuss his latest work, “Beautiful Wounds,” during an event hosted by Auntie’s Bookstore at the Hive on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Throughout his career, and especially when his work moved out of a traditional newsroom environment, Connor frequently struggled with loneliness. This feeling subsided during his marriage. But divorce, followed by a series of other disappointments, brought that old cloud roaring back.

“I was heartbroken,” he said. “I really saw myself as finishing my life with my family intact … losing that ideal was really hard.

“And I’ve just had to get comfortable acknowledging that that happened and being as honest as I can about it without hurting anybody or pointing fingers … that’s not the spirit of this.”

Born at Camp Hanford but raised for the most part in Panama where his grandfather and father worked, Connor grew up visiting the northwest, exploring areas in and around the Scablands, during the summer. But in those years, he only saw the Scablands at their driest. It was only more recently, when he started visiting in spring, that he realized why his mother had always called it “God’s country.”

“This time of year is just phenomenal,” he said, mentioning the comfort he felt photographing the Palouse Falls region in particular. “That landscape was like being with my grandmother … it was just where I knew I needed to be.”

The project began in early 2019 as a photo exhibition focused on the geological story of the Scablands. But when Connor went to write the exhibition guide, he realized that it could go further.

“Somewhere along the way there, I thought ‘Man, this could be a book,’ ” he said. And two days later,he got a call from his publisher asking about his next book.

The exhibition was forced to close after just one week, as “COVID was upon us,” he said. But the project was far from over.

Throughout “Beautiful Wounds,” Connor interweaves personal and historical narrative with nature photography and geological records, telling his own story and that of the region he calls home in the same breath. In his mind, the two are inextricably linked. And telling them together, he explains, revisiting his past and that of the Scablands, was the best therapy he could’ve asked for.

“I’m really grateful I was a husband, and I love my kids, but I really needed an experience like this to be happy with myself,” he said. “I’ve always struggled with that, but I wanted to struggle with it less.

The time he spent exploring the Scablands and documenting it’s history gave him a new perspective.

“And now, I’m really much more comfortable being by myself,” he said.

Writing the book, he explained, has been a way to share the perspective he gained and encourage others – locals, especially – to do the same.

“I’m really looking forward to using this book to help people know what this unique landscape is about, how it came about and what’s out there,” he said.

For more information, visit auntiesbooks.com or call (509) 838-0206.

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