Acclaimed author Bonnie Nadzam returns to Steamboat Springs for book signing | SteamboatToday.com
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Acclaimed author Bonnie Nadzam returns to Steamboat Springs for book signing

Author Bonnie Nadzam
bonnie_nadzam_B

If you go:

What: Bonnie Nadzam book talk

Acclaimed author returns to Steamboat Springs to share her latest novel, “Lions.”

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 26

Where: Off the Beaten Path, 68 Ninth St.

Cost: Free

In her second novel, “Lions,” author Bonnie Nadzam employs hauntingly beautiful prose to capture the reader’s imagination from the opening paragraphs.

She describes in aching detail a dying town on Colorado’s eastern plains for which the book is named, then taunts the reader with references to a mysterious stranger, “his dark clothes blowing like robes in the wind,” who appears for one night, foreshadowing sorrows to come for the novel’s main characters.

If you go:

What: Bonnie Nadzam book talk



Acclaimed author returns to Steamboat Springs to share her latest novel, “Lions.”

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 26



Where: Off the Beaten Path, 68 Ninth St.

Cost: Free

“They call it Lions, a name meant to stand in for disappointment with the wild invention and unreasonable hope by which it had been first imagined, then sought and spuriously claimed. There were never any lions. In fact there is nothing more to the place now than a hard rind of shimmering dirt and grass. The wind scours it constantly, scrubbing the sage and sweeping out all the deserted buildings and weather homes, clearing out those that aren’t already bare.”

Nadzam’s talent for creating stark, poignant pictures with words lays the foundation for an unsettling novel. In a taut 245 pages, Nadzam deftly patchworks together mystery, fidelity to family, superstition and young love and ends up with one haunting tale.

According to the author, “Lions” was inspired by the landscape of the Colorado plains.

“I have lived in every corner of the state,” Nadzam said, “and I always found the plains much more intimately sublime than the mountains. When you’re on the plains, the views are expansive, and there is no place for your eyes to land. I find it disorienting and almost terrifying, and I wanted to explore that.”

Nadzam, who called Steamboat Springs home for two years after college, from 1999 to 2001, wrote “Lions” while living in Fort Collins, and she said the fictional town, which emerged as another character in the novel, is a “mash-up” of different places around the state.

“I didn’t start from a single image or idea,” Nadzam said. “It began with a feeling and sense of mood I had while driving along the high plains — seeing a grain elevator completely abandoned … and entire towns where people just seemed to have left. It made the hair go up on the back of my neck, and I started thinking of a story that could connect these images.”

That story became the premise for “Lions,” which was released July 5.

At 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nadzam will be back in Steamboat for a reading and book signing at Off the Beaten Path. The author said she is looking forward to returning to a place that “totally enchanted” her when she lived here.

“I was blown away by the place,” Nadzam said.

During her tenure in Steamboat, Nadzam worked at the local bookstore and also served as health and education reporter and, then, arts and entertainment editor for Steamboat Pilot & Today.

“I remember missing the smell of flora around the Yampa River and the bike path,” Nadzam said. “There’s nothing like it anywhere else in Colorado.”

When asked if Steamboat Springs had ever made an appearance in her writing, Nadzam said she imagined the ranch, where the protagonist in her first novel, “Lamb,” takes a young girl he abducted, to be out on the Elk River.

“So much of the description came from my time living out there,” Nadzam said.

She also has written a short story, titled “The Yampa Valley Curse,” that remains unpublished.

“Lamb,” was published in 2011, winning the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. The book was made into a feature film that premiered at South by Southwest in March of last year.

To reach Lisa Schlichtman, call 970-871-4221, email lschlichtman@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @LSchlichtman


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