Author for 14th Tale gets star treatment in local visit
Photos by Tom Rivers
ALBION – After months of reading and discussing the 14th annual “A Tale for Three Counties,” a community reading effort culminated this week with visits and book talks by author Sarah M. Hulse of Spokane, Wa.
She met with Lyndonville students on Friday morning and later on Friday evening led a book discussion with about 75 people at Hoag Library in Albion. She is pictured in top photo, reading an excerpt from the book.
Hulse, 31, shared some of her writing and research strategies. She wrote the book as her master’s thesis at the University of Oregon. The initial 125,000-word novel was pared down to about 81,000 words. She compared the process to sculpting, starting with a hunk of material and then shaping it. It was a four-year process to write the book and then edit it.
Hulse talks about the book with about 75 people in the main meeting room at the Hoag Library.
Hulse visited GCC and Richmond Memorial Library in Batavia before spending much of the day in Orleans County on Friday. She is giving a book talk today in Perry, Wyoming County.
The story of Black River centers on Wes Carver, a retired corrections officer who is coping with the loss of his wife to cancer. Carver also returns to the Black River community for the parole hearing of an inmate who tortured Carver during a prison riot two decades earlier. That inmate badly broke Carver’s fingers, preventing him from playing the fiddle, one of his passions.
Hulse signs a book for Emily Cebula, director of the Yates Community Free Library in Lyndonville. Past books in the “Tale” series are on a table and were for sale on Friday.
Hulse thanked the enthusiastic crowds at her stops in Genesee and Orleans the first two days of her local tour.
Hulse said she read books on prisons and riots, as well as folk music to research the book. She also tried to learn to play the fiddle herself. She also spent a day with a blacksmith so she could better describe that trade, which is the profession for one of the book’s main characters, Dennis.
The novel explores faith, forgiveness, fatherhood and revenge.
“Basically every character in the book is doing the best that they can,” Hulse told the crowd at Albion. But she said the novel looks at relationships “when good people can’t get along.”
Hulse signs copies of Black River for readers after a book talk on Friday.
“Tale” organizers estimate about 1,000 in the three counties read the book, which is set a small town in Montana.
Organizers try to find up-and-coming authors as part of the series.
Catherine Cooper, director of Lee-Whedon Memorial Library in Medina, appreciates the community support and participation in the Tale events.
She said Black River was an immediate hit with the Tale committee that reads several books throughout the year to consider the best book for the Tale program.
All 14 of the Tale books have been memorable, capped by visits and talks by the authors, Cooper said.
“It’s the icing on the cake,” she said. “Other books we might forget, but not a Tale book.”
She praised Hulse for writing a novel “that enriches our understanding of the human experience.”
Hulse also met with two high school classes at Lyndonville on Friday morning. About 45 Lyndonville students read the book and wrote an essay about the novel.
The 14th annual Tale event for the first time included a local high school reading the book and discussing it in classes. Lyndonville used the book Grade 11 Pre-Advanced Placement English, Grade 12 AP English, and Grade 12 English.
For more on the Tale program, click here.