Posts Categorized: utah book month

Utah Book Month Author Interview with Rebecca Jamison

10 Aug, 2013 by in author interview, Rebecca Jamison, utah book month 8 comments

Rebecca H Jamison.
Photo copyright Heather Zahn Gardner
I had the fun opportunity to meet with author Rebecca H. Jamison for Utah Book Month at a quaint little french cafe where she had pizza and I ordered french onion soup plus a ginormous sugar cookie with sprinkles. Rebecca blew in wearing purple chucks ( I love when authors have spunky shoes)  and was willing to brave a freak downtown wind & rain storm with a pink umbrella to do a photo shoot and quick fire interview with Fire and Ice. 

What is the most rewarding or fun part about this whole process?

It’s fun to write, which is a great escape. It’s also fun to meet my readers. Believe it or not, I actually like doing signings.
Do you have any signings coming up?

Yes! Next Wednesday the 14th at the Sandy Costco and then Friday from 12-3 at the Costco in West Valley.
Top 5 books?

Les Miserables
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Christy by Catherine Marshall
Huck Finn by Mark Twain and 
Jane Eyre
Do you have a critique group?
Not one that meets together. I critique online and have a lot of people beta read my books.
What advice or books have helped you become a writer?
Read a lot of fiction. Read good books. The ones that helped me include : Writers Digest Magazine, James Scott Bell’s books and The Save the Cat book.
Is your next title in the works? 
Yes! I am halfway done with Sense and Sensibility and have the next book all planned out. I’m halfway through the second draft.
What places would you go to for researching your books?
I would have to visit San Jose, Maryland and New York City since those are the places the next book is set but I’ve always wanted to go to Italy or England.  I’d like to write at a remote place like the beach, but then it might be hard to write if I was at a place I REALLY liked.
Are there any important things you want readers to take away from Emma? 
Emma addresses insecurities in women, our perfectionism, and tendency not to think positively of ourselves. 
If you were going to put together the ultimate prize package for your book Emma: A Latter- Day Tale what would it include?
Dove Dark Chocolate, stuff to make s’mores: chocolate marshmallows, chocolate graham crackers and Hershey’s bars, ski pass tickets and note cards.

Rebecca H. Jamison Biography

Looking for love? Rebecca H. Jamison would love to set you up with that special someone, but you’re better off reading her books. She has a terrible track record as a matchmaker.

Rebecca grew up in Virginia. She attended Brigham Young University, where she earned a BA and MA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. In between college and graduate school, she served a mission to Portugal and Cape Verde.

Thanks so much for letting me capture you awesome personality in words and photos Rebecca! 
Check out our review of her fist book, Persuasion and enter to win a copy of Emma: A Latter- Day Tale on our previous blog tour post.
 Be sure to follow Utah Book Month  in August for more local author and blogger features.


Utah Book Month Author Spotlight- Jacqueline Osherow

20 Aug, 2012 by in utah book month 1 comment

Photo copyright Heather Zahn Gardner

Jacqueline Osherow is a teacher of biblical poetry and its legacy at the local university who I had the opportunity to interview for Utah Book Month. As a child, she always wanted to be a writer thanks to a marvelous fourth-grade teacher in Hebrew school, Mrs. Gelman, who instructed her on the possibilities and mysteries of biblical text. She was also inspired by her parents who often read from anthologies. Her father, a lawyer, read Tennyson at the dinner table. In particular, Jacqueline remembers The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner being read in her childhood home. She also enjoyed Psalms as a source of inspiration, and loved Stephenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses (in particular The Swing.) Her favorite nursery rhyme being The Cow That Jumped Over the Moon.

Osherow’s first book was published in 1988– when she was 32 years old. She now has six books in print and feels that being both an author and a professor is a great combination. ” If  I’m actually engaged in writing, I can be more useful to my students. Writing is a very solitary thing. The beauty about being a professor is that I can interact with people who care so much about what I also care about. The university has a wonderful program in its graduate school. Students keep me young with the purity of their relationship to poetry, their love of poetry, and that excitement and thrill over a great line.”
Mrs. Osherow enjoys poems by King David, Dante, Shakespeare, Keats, and Byron. She also loves Donna Herbert, Hopkins, Langston Hughes, and Robert Hayden. Her teacher, Robert Lowell, still inspires her as well. 
As a Jew born in 1956, Osherow is obsessed by the Holocaust.  She married the son of survivors who met at at the Dachau concentration camp. She has visited Treblinka and several other camps in Poland

She’s especially interested in the hybridization of tradition and newness. ” I believe in never making stuff up but in interacting with the world as it has presented to me. I don’t change the facts; ther’es an obligation to be accurate”.

“If you’ve never read Keats or Coleridge, you can’t write poetry. The more you know, the more you become aware of what’s possible, what’s been done before, and what’s new and fabulous. The more you read, the more you have access to.” She’s dubious that you could ever really write something truly new. In the words of Solomon “there’s nothing new under the sun.” She adds, “the only newness that comes is your voice and your particular connections.”
The Bible is another popular theme base that shows up in much of Osherow’s writing. She is very interested in Jewish tradition and Jewish literary tradition. “I’m glad my children have an ancient tradition to connect to;  I like having tradition and care a great deal about history.” While Osherow’s father was brought as a baby to America from Eastern Europe, she’s quite certain her great-grandparents would not recognize her religion–for instance, the fact that, as a woman, she can chant from the Bible. She explains :”Women didn’t chant– and still can’t chant– in Orthodox Jewish religion. The sense of change is built into Judaism. It’s a religion that has changed with the times.”
When asked about creative exercises, Osherow claims that she personally doesn’t have any and doesn’t teach any to her students. ” Exercises may work for other people but I believe in simply writing about the thing that obsesses me. Work is always progress, and writer’s block comes from demanding that you immediately produce something useful. If you work, you get somewhere–even if it takes a long time.  It usually doesn’t happen all at once–that’s very, very rare. Writing is a long process of working, working chiseling and chiseling some more.”
Osherow is currently finishing her seventh manuscript with the tentative title White On White. She’s also working on a very complicated project through the University Research Committee which is sending her to Alhamra, Spain. As a part of her project, Ms. Osherow will take a long time studying wallpaper symmetry patterns. “It’s daunting, but doesn’t feel impossible. I’ll set out and maybe I’ll get there; it’s exciting.” 

“I always have a backlog of things to explore– other really valuable things that I never drop; I just put them off because I have a busy life. The stuff that sticks with me is the stuff I use in my poems. I read a lot about place. Place means a great deal to me.”

Her advice to people who want to be published:  read, read, read, and read more. Second–be stubborn. For those who want to be published in poetry, her advice is to “get a Norton anthology. When you find someone you love, read everything they wrote. Get a real sense of what’s possible, of what’s been done. ” “Go after what you are interested in; ideally, do something you can do. I spent a lot of time emulating Dickinson but eventually you have to sound like yourself. You have to be stubborn– especially about poetry.There’s a lot of rejection in tyring to get publsihed in poetry. About 99.9% of it gets rejected; so be thick-skinned.”
She added, “If I’m working, I’m satisfied. If you do those things, if you are stubborn– and if you push it– someone will like it. The pleasure has to come not from what other people are doing,  but from what you are doing. You have to be the one who is happy with your work.” 

“You are the judge, not these other guys, and the advice they give you has to resonate. If you’re doubtful about something– get rid of it. If everybody in the room says something negative, but you can articulate why you need it; keep it. If only you like it, then take it out.”

Ultimately, Osherow hopes that her students  “will notice more than they have noticed before, that they will be better leaders, and be more attentive readers.” She enjoys teaching students to notice more and to polish their abilities to clearlycommunicate what they notice. In the words attributed to Paul Celan  “poetry gifts to the attentive. The definition of art is a great fresco; the more you look at it, the more you notice. It’s not so much imparting information as having the skills to really open that piece of art.”

Author Bio: Raised in Philadelphia, poet Jacqueline Osherow received her BA from Radcliffe College, Harvard University, and her PhD from Princeton University. She is the author of several collections of poetry, including Hoopoe’s Crown (2005). Her debut collection, Looking for Angels in New York (1988), was chosen for the Contemporary Poetry Series.

Often inhabiting a variety of demanding formal structures such as terza rima and the double sestina, Osherow’s poetry is both conversational and learned, concerned with the intricacies of faith and the weight of history. As a reviewer for Publishers Weekly noted, Osherow is “a poet who offers opinions and reactions to the weightiest questions of history and religion, while sounding less like an authority than like a particularly well-traveled friend.” She is particularly interested in biblical inconsistencies, and her psalms have their root in the holy poems she heard as a child at temple. In a 1999 essay for the Poetry Society of America, Osherow wrote, “If I write out of a specific poetic tradition, it is the Jewish poetic tradition, American poet though I am.”

She has been awarded the Witter Bynner Prize by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, several prizes from the Poetry Society of America, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Ingram Merrill Foundation.

Osherow’s work has been anthologized in Twentieth Century American Poetry (2003), The Wadsworth Anthology of Poetry (2005), Jewish American Literature: A Norton Anthology (2000), and The Penguin Book of the Sonnet (2001), and twice in Best American Poetry.

Utah Book Month Author Interview with Stephen Trimble

13 Aug, 2012 by in stephen trimble, utah book month 3 comments

Photo courtesy of
 Stephen Trimble rode up to the locally owned cafe on bicycle and immediately greeted the founder of one of the nation’s most successful independent bookstores — the King’s English. In his personable and down-to-earth manner, he continued to greet other locals from his Avenues neighborhood. When we sat down for an interview, I recognized how knowledgeable Stephen is about the Utah landscape. One passerby complimented him on some spots he had recommended for their Grand Canyon trip. Stephen knows the national parks well. He always felt that park rangers were the coolest people, and after college he got a job as a ranger himself. Mr. Trimble explained that, back in his day, the parks would publish 32-page booklets with photographs of each park and that, as a resident ranger, one of his first jobs was to photograph and write for the National Park Service. Through the years he has published more than 20 books and sold many photos as a result of his love for editorial photography.
As a kid, he loved books more than baseball. Interestingly, he sees the world flat, like a photo print, due to an inability to see things in 3D. His father, a geologist who loved history, gave Steve a camera — then started critiquing his photos. “I take photos to record what I see and tell a story with the photos. I try to do my craft well,” Stephen relates. (I also found it interesting that Stephen has always shot Nikon.)
 He has seen the publishing process and photography business change over the years. At first he published through the national parks, the museum presses, and finally university presses. “My photography always made more money than the words. I made money from the reproduction of my images and stock photos. But nowadays, photo editors can go poking around on the web and someone who has uploaded their pictures on Flickr will be offered a spot in a magazine or book for free. Stock photography has all but disappeared.”
Mr. Trimble now teaches a writing course to incoming Honors students at the University of Utah and teaches seminars on photographing western landscapes. His narrative writing skills have been used featured in the new Natural History Museum. Conservation organizations hire him as a writer for his knowledge as a naturalist and for his passion for the natural world. He’s been writing about the Canyon Country in southern Utah since age 20 and now maintains a home in Torrey, Utah — the true geography of his childhood. “Utah’s a great place to be a writer because there are several very supportive communities and there are so many people connected to the land, like Teresa Jordan, Amy Irvine, and Terry Tempest-Williams. There are other fine nature writers teaching, as well:George Handley at BYU and Jim Aton at SUU. The landscape here is powerful; it draws people. Writing about it is a humbling experience.”
His advice for up-and-coming authors? First: “write what you know and know what you write. It has to be something you are passionate about. Write about what you care about.” Secondly “always try to keep making your writing better. Look at the newer style guides, and when you find yourself feeling stale, read breathtakingly good books.” For Stephen, those include a wide range of writers from John McPhee of the New Yorker, Annie Dillard, JK Rowling, and Ellen Meloy.
 I asked Stephen what legacy he hopes to leave behind and he answered, “I hope to do everything I’ve done as well as I can do it. I recently heard Colin Powell talk about the lessons he learned as a young man. One was ‘Do a good job even when no one is looking.’ I like that.” He often asks himself “what is the most important thing I can do next with my time ? What’s important to spend my time on right now?” “I think maintaining relationships with the people I love and doing work well — to the very end — is important, because you never know when the end is going to come.”
Stephen Trimble was born in Denver, his family’s base for roaming the West with his geologist father. After a liberal arts education at Colorado College, he worked as a park ranger in Colorado and Utah, earned a master’s degree in ecology at the University of Arizona, served as director of the Museum of Northern Arizona Press, and for five years lived in Indian Country near Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has been a full-time free-lance writer and photographer since 1981,based in Salt Lake City for twenty-five years.
Trimble’s distinctive voice as a naturalist leads visitors through the new (2011) Natural History Museum of Utah, where he wrote much of the exhibit text. Trimble has received significant awards for his photography, his non-fiction, and his fiction—and the breadth of those awards mirrors the wide embrace of his work: The Sierra Club’s Ansel Adams Award for photography and conservation; The National Cowboy Museum’s Western Heritage “Wrangler” Award; and a Doctor of Humane Letters from his alma mater, Colorado College,honoring his efforts to increase our understanding of Western landscapes and peoples. As one of two Wallace Stegner Centennial Fellows at the University of Utah’s Tanner Humanities Center in 2008-2009,he co-taught two classes and led a statewide conversation about Stegner:
Environmental historian James Aton believes Trimble’s “books comprise one of the most wellrounded,sustained, and profound visions of people and landscape that we have ever seen in the American West.” Bloggers at The Gulch judge Trimble to be “one of America’s best naturalist writers; nobody else produces prose that is quite so pure, spare, beautiful and clean.”
As writer, editor, and photographer Trimble has published more than 20 books. His bedrock focus is the land—western wildlands and natural history—including: Bargaining for Eden: The Fight for the Last Open Spaces in America • Lasting Light: 125 Years of Grand Canyon Photography •The Geography of Childhood: Why Children Need Wild Places (with Gary Paul Nabhan) • The Sagebrush Ocean: A Natural History of the Great Basin • Earthtones: A Nevada Album (with Ann Ronald) • Blessed By Light: Visions of the Colorado Plateau • and • Words From the Land:Encounters with Natural History Writing. Trimble spent ten years listening to Southwest Indian people, and their stories fill his books: The People: Indians of the American Southwest • Talking With the Clay: the Art of Pueblo Pottery in the 21st Century • and • Our Voices, Our Land. He has also appeared on local and national NPR, including “Talk of the Nation” and “The Savvy Traveler.”
Trimble co-compiled (with Terry Tempest Williams) a landmark effort by writers hoping to sway public policy: Testimony: Writers of the West Speak on Behalf of Utah Wilderness. On March 27, 1996,Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) read Trimble’s essay from Testimony on the floor of the United States Senate during his plea to protect Utah wilderness. Feingold concluded with, “That short piece of writing is so powerful…because it is a timeless statement about how people feel about natural places.”
With his family, Trimble makes his home in Salt Lake City and in the redrock country of Torrey,Utah. From his attic studio in the city, he looks out on the Wasatch Mountains and Great Basin Desert.He is currently presenting readings from Bargaining for Eden, his book about the tension between community and development at the beginning of the 21st Century (which won support from the Utah Humanities Council and Utah Arts Council and the 2008 Utah Book Award in Nonfiction), consulting with The Nature Conservancy’s Colorado Plateau Conservation Initiative, and teaching writing in the University of Utah Honors College. Trimble’s website is
Upcoming Events with Stephen Trimble– He’ll be speaking at the Orem library on the evening of September 27th.  And he’ll be speaking at BYU at lunchtime in the library special collections room at noon on October 19.  Both talks will be general discussions of themes in his work
In addition be sure to sign up for Tutored by the Land: A Writing and Photography Workshop with Stephen Trimble at The Environmental Humanities Education Center at Centennial Valley, Montana. Sept. 12–16, 2012. Details can be found at