‘Black River’ novelist to discuss writings Nov. 18

A meet-the-author reception for a local novelist is slated for Nov. 18 from 5-6 p.m. with her reading beginning at 6 p.m. at the Oats Park Arts Center.

The event is open to the public and is free.

S.M. Hulse brings a regional flavor to her writing, as evidenced in her first novel, “Black River.” Her writing evokes images of the American West, and her stories have appeared in “Willow Springs,” “Witness” and “Salamander.”

Hulse is an assistant professor of English at the University of Nevada, Reno. Before coming to UNR, Hulse received her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Oregon and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a fiction fellow.

In writing “Black River,” Hulse captured the essence of life in Montana and the lessons taught to the main character, Wes Carver, a 60-year-old man, through her research.

When Hulse lived in Montana, she had read about a prison riot that occurred in the 1950s and wondered how the events would shape the future of one man and his many relationships.

“Well, I certainly did a lot of reading, both online and off,” Hulse said. “The University of Oregon library had a particularly useful book that was largely comprised of interviews with corrections officers who had been held hostage in prison riots; I checked it out repeatedly while I was writing the first draft of Black River in graduate school.

“I spent some time browsing online forums for corrections officers, which gave me a good sense of the kinds of issues officers in different kinds of facilities and communities dealt with on a daily basis, and the broad range of feelings they had about their work. I also made several visits to the Old Montana Prison in Deer Lodge.”

Hulse explained her character development of Carver, who is considerably older than Hulse when she wrote the novel in her late 20s. She imagined what the character would be like through research and empathy and then wrote about Carver.

“I only had to know what it was like to be this 60-year-old man. In other words, I don’t definitively know what it’s like to be male, or 60, but I do know what it’s like to be Wes Carver,” she explained.

The novel is available on Amazon.com. In its summary, the online retailer stated the following: “When Wes Carver returns to Black River, he carries two things in the cab of his truck: his wife’s ashes and a letter from the prison parole board. The convict who held him hostage during a riot, twenty years ago, is being considered for release.

Wes has been away from Black River ever since the riot. He grew up in this small Montana town, encircled by mountains, and, like his father before him and most of the men there, he made his living as a Corrections Officer. A talented, natural fiddler, he found solace and joy in his music. But during that riot Bobby Williams changed everything for Wes — undermining his faith and taking away his ability to play.”


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