A sampler of coverage in all media—online, radio and video.
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Blogs and online news
Book Snob blog highlighted Inhabited with a book giveaway, review and this interview.
Usually an author includes some of their life experiences in their books. Did you do that?
I hate characters who are the author in costume. In the few instances where I tried that, I either stopped writing or shrank the guy and moved him away from the center of the story. I already knew him and he wasn’t able to surprise me.
Unfamiliar characters and situations force me to go somewhere new or fearsome, to employ empathy more than memory. That’s what I find stimulating as a writer and as a reader.
The Utah Review says Inhabited "critique[s] the American West culture that simultaneously purports to elevate history while stubbornly clinging to the convenience of historical forgetfulness."
Inhabited continues a recent stream of fiction published by Torrey House Press that engages the readers with public, social and political issues by touching emotions and inspiring advocacy in ways that might not be possible with traditional nonprofit or community political platforms. Quimby, who splits his time between Colorado and Minnesota, draws upon personal experiences in his writing. When he writes dialogue about the homeless or the town’s back-and-forth on community redevelopment, the text conveys a credible, accessible and knowledgeable tone.
MinnPost's Amy Goetzman uncovers why this long-time Midwesterner is writing about the new West.
[Minnesota's] literary legacy is not terribly heavy with bleak, man-against-nature tales, despite our weather extremes and once-deep wilderness. We make the best of things. Community, optimism, a sense of fun, and the changing seasons generally prevail in our writers’ imaginations.
Writing from the new American West, on the other hand, seems to give way to grimness far more often in its post-frontier storytelling. Mountains and the open range are lonely year round, and when spring comes, in the works of, say, Annie Proulx or Rick Bass, it’s just easier to find the bodies. Minnesota writer and Colorado native Charlie Quimby has a little bit of both places in him, and it shows in his first novel, Monument Road (Torrey House Press).
For the American Booksellers' Bookselling This Week, I got the chance to say outloud what I'd embedded more quietly in the story.
What do you hope readers take away from your debut title?
C.Q.: I hope I’ve put enough in there that any reader can find something that speaks directly to them, to where they are in their lives. But if there’s one thing for everyone, it’s that the West and its communities are the laboratories for how humanity is going to survive. It was settled last because it was the hardest place, and it will be where we first encounter the limits of our domination of the earth — water, weather, air, fire, conflict over uses, madness. Western communities aren’t just about guns, rugged individualism, and extracting resources. They are places where people of different means, political blocs, religious sects, and relationships to the land are figuring out how to share a place they all love.
The Tattered Cover's book blog, Between the Covers, featured this Q&A.
You’ve always been a writer, yet your first novel is coming out at age 64. How does that happen?
It happens after decades of pursuing other enthusiasms. Things like marathoning and writing and recording music crowded out the possibility of sustained work on a novel. When I quit trying to be good at golf and left the business world, I basically dared myself to do this with the time. The time aside, I couldn’t have written this book when I was 35 and full of myself.
I've always loved to see how authors answer Jodi Chromey's "6 Questions We Always Ask" at Minnesota Reads.
Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? Who?
Comic strip reporter Brenda Starr was pretty hot, but that was mostly a visual attraction and I was only ten. Six or seven years later, I had a crush on a real girl who scared me to death on a cliff and I made her into a fictional character. Does that count?
Colin McDonald interviewed me for the Common Good Books blog and took the conversation to some new places. Here's where we started—from the full interview, "The Next Thing is Not Where You're Sitting."
CGB: Monument Road is a book brimming with characters. Do you have to like people to write this well about them?
CQ: I think you have to like people, which is not always the same as being engaged socially. It’s possible to be both, but it’s also possible to be one or the other. You can be engaged socially and not like people, and vice-versa. I’m on the introvert/extrovert cusp and can play either direction, but deep down you have to like people as a big class because that’s where your characters come from. If you only like people like you, or certain kinds of people, you’re a bit impoverished. It’s not necessary to like everybody, but it’s necessary to have empathy for all different kinds of people.
Colorado mystery author Mark Stevens interviewed me for his blog.
The setting of Monument Road seems completely intertwined with the story. Did the landscape around Grand Junction and Colorado National Monument inspire the story or was this a story that later found its home?
Quimby: Some readers have told me the landscape feels like a character to them. I would not have written this book at all without having grown up in that place as a fourth generation Coloradan, leaving it for 40 years and then coming back to live part time.
We have a house just off Monument Road, and my wife and I hike and bike in that country all the time. It’s an amazing place, with a billion years of geologic time thrust in your face and another billon that should be there gone missing. A barren desert that becomes fecund with irrigation. Dinosaur tracks in the rock, with a “dinosaur mine” at one end of the valley. Three distinct valley walls that could be three different places in the world.
So, yes, it’s more than just a setting. It’s a place that evokes big questions and demands responses. And that’s before you even put a person in it!
Beautiful places attract all kinds—and harsh places collect them. This region is both.
In February, the Campaign for the American Reader featured me along with a wide range of authors, from P.S. Duffy to Gary Shteyngart.
How would you complete this line: "You might well enjoy my book if you like..."?
You might enjoy Monument Road if you've already found books about the New West to your liking—for example, Kent Haruf for the spare writing, Annie Proulx and Brady Udall for the humor and Louise Erdrich for evoking the spirit of a culture. I've also been compared to the non-western John Irving for throwing in some unexpected plot twists.
As I wrote my novel, I held out hope that I could perform a similar balancing act to the one Colum McCann pulled off in Let the Great World Spin. My story has a rancher named Leonard Self heading off to scatter his wife's ashes from a high overlook—and to follow her off to his own end. As he progresses toward his goal, other stories arise, but it's unclear until the end how they all relate to each other. A high-wire act between the World Trade Center towers might not seem to have much to do with Leonard's discoveries about himself and his relationship to his community, but trust me.
My first article in print appeared in the Glenwood Post after I persuaded the editor to start covering junior high football games, in which I was also appearing. Many years later, I did this interview for the Post Independent.
What do you enjoy most about Monument Road being featured in book clubs?
I wrote this book for the type of readers who belong to a book club — widely read, social, curious and serious about good writing. Being selected is a sign I succeeded in reaching them. I’ve participated in more than a dozen club discussions so far and have many more lined up. It’s fun and flattering to be brought into this circle of friends who often have been together for years and who have given my work close attention. I always get something from each discussion.
There's not much about the book or the author at Coffee with a Canine, but you can learn a lot about my dog.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Roxy could speak, which actor should do her voice?
Roxy has too much taste to be in a movie that features a fake talking dog. And she would insist on doing her own lines and her own stunts. That would be in the contract.
The SPNN Forum is a quality community access program produced for the St. Paul Neighborhood Network. Catherine Reid Day regularly hosts authors, artists and citizens active in shaping the Twin Cities and the region. (26:13)
Park City TV is another really excellent local network that does community programming in Park City Utah. The Mountain Morning Show was my first broadcast appearance, and it drew someone to a bookstore signing who'd seen the show while sitting in her dentist's chair! (11:15)
A short clip (1:53) shot on the noisy floor of BookExpo America at a reception for the authors selected for the ABA's "Indies Introduce...Debut Authors" program. Gotta love that freeze frame.
Write On Radio is a weekly production by the excellent and eclectic Twin Cities community station KFAI. Here's the link to my November 2016 Inhabited interview (starts at 32:16). The Monument Road interview from May 2014 starts at 1:30.
ArtZany! bills itself as "radio for the imagination" and offers wide-ranging conversations with writers and artists. (49:00) November 2013
15 with the Author is an interview series with an emphasis on Minnesota-connected writers and books. (12:20) November 2013