We did it! The Shelterbelts book Launch was a huge success. Thank you to all who attended, brought cakes and helped celebrate. I’m attaching the newspaper article that appeared in the Brainerd Dispatch. Thanks, everyone. I’m already starting to hear from readers who finished it! So far, so good!
Pequot Lakes author, Candace Simar, celebrated the release of Shelterbelts, her fifth historical novel,at The Franklin Arts Center on Saturday, May 16, from 1pm to 3:30 pm. There was a short reading at 2pm.
Shelterbelts is set in a tightly-knit Scandinavian farming community in Minnesota at the close of WW2. Tia Fiskum, the old maid of Tolga Township, struggles to control the family farm after her shell-shocked brother returns from the war. Woven throughout is the man who walks lizards, a grieving father, the neighborhood gossipmonger, a disillusioned preacher, the man who fears being returned to the asylum and the Potato King who prays for a miracle.
“My parents married in 1944,” Simar said in a recent interview. “I loved investigating their world, and how things might have been.” She described a life-long fascination with the relationship of farmers to their neighbors. “No one is going anywhere, so they have to learn to get along, much like a marriage.”
Simar wrote Shelterbelts over a span of ten years. “It started at a Robert Olin Butler workshop at UMD in 2005.” Individual chapters won awards at Brainerd Writer’s Alliance, The Lake Region Review and The Bob Dylan Creative Writing Contest. Friends encouraged her to continue writing. She received a Five Wings Arts Grant to attend the 2010 Master Novel Class in Taos, New Mexico, with Jonis Agee, the award-winning author of The River Wife. Armed with insights learned at the class, Candace returned home with ideas for needed revision.
“I wrote Shelterbelts in between working on The Abercrombie Trail Series. After Blooming Prairie was published in 2012, I gave it my full attention.” Another Five Wings Arts grant allowed Candace to work with Patricia Weaver Francisco from Hamline University for editorial assistance. “I’m grateful for the help I received from Five Wings, the many workshops I attended and for the wonderful community support I have enjoyed. People have been waiting for Shelterbelts. I hope they enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.”
Jonis Agee describes Shelterbelts as a “wonderful novel, full of vivid writing and fierce characters with a passion for finding their place in the world despite the cruelties of war and the realities of living on the land. Like Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg Ohio, this book explores the secret yearnings of the heart that promise to connect us if we take the time to discover them in each other. Readers are going to fall in love with Simar’s Tolga Township!”