Author visits Carson City

Gregory Martin wanted to save his home from disappearing.

He couldn't stop the population of the tiny northeastern Nevada town from dwindling, so he preserved his memories in a book called, "Mountain City."

"I knew it was going away," he told Carson City students Wednesday at Western Nevada Community College. "Writing should be driven by a feeling of urgency. If you're writing and you're not really into it, don't write that story."

Martin's book was featured in the "One Book, Many Stories" community reading project sponsored by Western Nevada Community College and public libraries in seven counties.

The book was distributed in January. This week, Martin is touring Northern Nevada to do readings and talk about the book, which gives a glimpse into the lives of people in a town on the verge of extinction.

"It's fantastic," he said. "So many of the people have read the book so carefully, and the questions are so precise."

Martin describes Mountain City as the only place he could call home -- after living in 15 states by the time he was 25 -- and where "you can almost hear the stars at night, it's so quiet."

Jeff Greb, creative-writing teacher at Carson High, assigned the book to his students as an example of how to turn real-life events into a compelling story.

"It went really well," Greb said. "My students thoroughly enjoyed the book from the storytelling point of view, and they also became very interested in the family in the book."

Martin, 32, walked the students through the process of writing the book from the beginning stages.

"It didn't happen overnight, and it didn't happen just by inspiration," he said.

Rather, it was a compilation of ideas scrawled on bits of paper collected over the years.

He read one conversation between his grandfather and uncle that he recorded on a brown paper bag while working in Tremewan's Store, the centerpiece of his book.

"How much bologna do you think we've sold over the years, Gramps?" Uncle Mel asked.

"Probably from here to Elko," Grandpa responded.

Martin put it into perspective for the students: "That's 84 miles of bologna."

A writer by nature, Martin wrote his first book, "Mush," when he was 8. It was about a group of farm animals at an army hospital far from home.

The manuscript was rejected by Random House Publishing Co., but he kept writing. Nearly 20 publishers turned down "Mountain City" until it was accepted.

His determination, writing skills and honesty inspired students.

"I thought it was awesome," said Theresa Epling, 16. "When you read a book, you never think you'll meet the author and get to pick apart their mind."

Martin also held a reading Wednesday evening at the Brewery Arts Center. His Uncle Mel and Aunt Lou, characters in the novel, were guest speakers.

Linda Deacy, Douglas County librarian and an organizer of the reading project, was pleased with the outcome.

"He did wonderfully," she said.

Martin lives in Albuquerque, N. M., and teaches at New Mexico State University. He is working on a novel set in rural Southern Idaho about a family living at a stage station in the 1920s and 1930s.


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