There's   a   moment   as   a   reader,   not   often   enough   felt,   when   you   sigh   comfortably   and relax,   because   you   know   you're   in   good   hands.   So   you   feel   this   way   when   you   read the books of Russell Rowland. On   JBN   talented   and   amazing   Russell   Rowland   discusses   his   famous   and   brilliant book   -   In   Open   Spaces   and   his   book   he   works   now   on   "Be A   Man",   about   the   effects of   growing   up   in   Montana.   Also,   he   talks   about   his   favorite   book's   characters,   his plans, his family...  and he gives few important advice to another writer. JBN:   I   know   you   are   from   a   fourth-generation   Montana's   family.   Tell   please   more about yourself... Russell   Rowland:    I   was   born   in   Montana:   Bozeman.   My   dad   was   a   student   there   when   I was   born.   I   grew   up   pretty   much   in   Montana   or   in   Wyoming.   But   we   moved   around   a   lot. We   finally   ended   up   in   Billings   when   I   was   12   y.o.   I   became   interested   in   books   when   I   was in   my   twenties.   I   started   reading   a   lot   after   college.   I   was   studying   Music   at   Pacific   Lutheran University   and   there   I   started   reading   a   lot.   I   don't'   know   why   but   I   just   decided   to   try writing.   So   I   started   writing   short   stories   and   many   of   them   were   rejected.   But   I   really wanted   to   do   it.   I   just   kept   writing.   When   I   went   through   a   divorce   in   late   80s,   I   joined   the navy.   I   was   stationed   in   Connecticut.   There   was   really   good   creative   writing   instructor   at Connecticut   College   which   was   just   up   to   street   from   my   ship.   I   took   some   writing   classes from   her   and   I   put   together   enough   material   to   apply   to   graduate   school.   I   went   to   graduate school   for   creative   writing   in   Boston   University   and   that   is   where   I   wrote   my   first   book.   It   is a   novel   called   "In   Open   Spaces".   That   novel   is   really   based   on   our   family   history.   Talk about   the   early   20th-century   ranching   family.   Took   11   years   to   get   it   published.   The   book received   a   starred   review   from   the   Publishers   Weekly.   It   did   it   pretty   well.   I   have   been fortunate to publish five books now. JBN:  What topics are important to you? About what else do you write? Russell   Rowland:   My   second   book   was   actually   the   sequel   to   the   first   one.   The   first   two   books   were   based   on   my   family.   But   for   the third   novel,   I   changed   my   focus.   I   had   a   drinking   problem   when   I   was   young,   and   for   that   book   I   wanted   to   write   about   alcoholism.   The story   is   about   an   alcoholic   who   used   to   play   baseball.   He   moves   to   Montana   to   get   away   from   a   lot   of   problems   that   he   created   back East   and   of   course,   he   ends   up   creating   even   more   problems   because   he   still   has drinking   issues.   He   starts   to   make   trouble   almost   immediately.   Eventually,   he   has   to face   the   original   problem   that   he   thought   he   left   behind...      So   it’s   kind   of   redemption story.   It   was   a   hard   one   to   write. And   in   this   book,   you   can   meet   one   character   I   like very   much.   It   is   three-legged   dog   named   Dave,   the   only   friend   of   the   protagonist. Of   course,   he   is   not   human   so   the   behavior   of   that   alcoholic   man   doesn't   hurt   him as   much,   he   doesn't   have   to   deal   with   human   emotions.   And   that   dog   was   based on my friend’s pet, whom I really loved. JBN:   Do   you   have   another   character   from   your   book,   about   whom   you   can say it is one of your favorite except that dog? Russell   Rowland:   There’s   a   woman,   Helen,   in   the   first   two   novels   who   is   real   evil. And   she   is   based   on   my   mom's   aunt   who   was   mean   but   not   nearly   as   mean   as   this character.   I   really   exaggerated   her.   She   was   fun   to   write   because   she   was   so sneaky!   She   does   a   lot   of   really   despicable   things   but   she   was   quite   behind   the scenes so people can't blame her. JBN: What does your writing routine look like? Russel   Rowland:   It's   varies.   It   depends   on   what   I’m   working   on.   I   don't   write   every day   but   I   pretty   close.   I   also   work   with   other   writers.   I   try   to   spend   my   morning getting   my   work   stuff   out   of   the   way   so   I   can   write   in   the   afternoon   without   thinking about what I’m supposed to do.  JBN: Which book was the easier and the harder one to write? Russel   Rowland:   The   first   was   the   easiest   for   some   reason.   Probably   because   I didn't   really   know   what   I   was   doing.   I   was   just   writing   what   came   in   my   head.   I never   really   struggle   with   writing   block   so   I’m   pretty   lucky   that   way.   The   hardest was   the   last   one,   which   is   called   "Fifty-Six   Counties".   I   went   to   every   county.   It   was my   first   non-fiction   books   and   it   was   hard   because   I’m   used   to   just   making   stuff   up and   this   one   had   to   be   factual.   I   have   never   been   a   journalist   so   I   had   to   learn   how   to   interview   people,   take   notes   and   all   that   stuff, which I’ve never really done. It was a challenge but I enjoyed it. JBN: How do you work with another writer? Russell   Rowland:   A   lot   of   writers   hire   me   to   help   with   their   books.   I   also   teach   writing   workshops   online.   I   have   been   pretty   lucky because a few people I worked with published their books. JBN: Can you please share some advice you usually give to writers? Russell   Rowland:   The   hardest   thing,   especially   when   you’re   writing   fiction,   is   to   learn   to   develop   your   own   voice.   If   you   write   with   too much   intention   to   be   commercial,   of   making   it   salable,   it’s   not   going   to   be   authentic.   Some   people   try   too   hard   write   something   that   can be   attractive   to   the   publisher   instead   of   just   following   their   own   heart,   writing   what   they   really   want   to   write.   I   try   to   push   people   in   that direction. And you just have to be persistent, rejection is part of the job. You have to get used to that. JBN: What did your mom say about your novel "In Open Spaces"? Russell   Rowland:   When   you   write   a   book   based   on   your   family,   it   is   always   little   dangerous   because   some   people   may   take   it   wrong or   take   offense.   And   there   were   some   relatives   that   didn't   like   my   first   couple   of   books.   But   my   mom   loved   them.   Also,   that   evil character   (the   aunt   of   my   mom)   helped   to   reunite   my   mom   with   her   cousin   (the   daughter   of   evil   lady).      They   were   the   same   age,   they grow   up   together   and   because   their   mothers   didn't   get   along,   they   didn’t   spend   much   time together   as   kids. This   cousin   ended   up   reading   the   book   and   it   bothered   her   a   little   that   the character   that   was   based   on   her   mom   was   so   evil.   But   she   is   pretty   amazing   women   and she   understood.   She   and   my   mom   they   really   didn't   communicate   as   much   as   adults,   but they got together and they talked about the book. And they become closer since then. JBN: How long did you work on "Fifty-Six Counties" Russell   Rowland:   I   traveled   about   four   months   altogether.   But   it   wasn't   all   at   once.   I   did   in different   sections.   Four   different   tours   in   the   state   -   four   different   parts   of   the   state.   And then   I   spent   about   two   years   working   on   that   book.   I   did   a   lot   of   research,   I   read   a   lot   of   the history   of   Montana.   I   went   to   museums,   a   lot   of   people   I   talked   to   were   the   volunteer   in museums.   There   is   one   museum   in   Montana   in   Polson.   There   is   this   guy   who   created   a museum   and   he   has   been   running   it   for   about   40   years.      He’s   in   his   80s   now.   It's   the   huge building   and   an   amazing   collection   of   random   stuff,   like   tractors   and   machines,   with   no   real order.   Except   for   few   areas   that   are   sort   of   organized. And   this   guy   has   devoted   all   his   life to   this   place.   It   is   real   touching.   He   talked   a   lot   about   how   his   wife,   who   is   dead   now, helped   him. And   you   can   tell   that   her   death   has   affected   him   -   the   place   was   dusty,      it   just seems that he lost part of his interest after she passed away. JBN: What are you working on now? Russell   Rowland:    I   have   two   novels   finished   that   I   am   going   to   try   to   publish   this   next year   —   Arbuckle   and   The   Difference   Between   Us.   Those   two   are   done,   but   the   one   I   am working   on   right   now   is   a   memoir.   So   I   am   writing   about   my   childhood   but   with   a   kind   of specific   theme.   I   am   writing   about   growing   up   male   in   the   west.   That   stereotype   that   you should   be   macho   and   tough,   never   ask   for   help.   Is   called   "Be   a   Man".   Because   we   live   in the   place   what   has   such   a   brutal   history,   and   also   with   this   pressure   to   be   self-sustaining and   self-reliant,   I   find   it   fascinating   how   that   affects   people.   So,   for   example,   I   just   lost   my uncle   a   few   month   ago,   he   was   my   godfather,   we   were   really   close.   And   he used   to   tell   a   story   about   how   he   and   his   cousin   were   riding   on   the   ranch   one day   and   they   decided   to   go   swimming.   They   decided   to   swim   in   this   one reservoir   where   his   father   was   told   them   to   never   swim.   His   cousin   wasn't   a good   swimmer   and   he   drowned.   Of   cause   my   uncle   felt   horrible,   he   was   only ten.   And   his   cousin   was   12.   When   they   found   the   body   all   the   family   and neighbors   were   gathered   at   the   house.   My   uncle   was   crying.   And   in   that moment,   the   older   sister   of   that   drowned   cousin   sat   next   to   him   and   said:   "You need   to   stop   crying,   you’re   no   helping   anyone,   you’re   just   making   it   worse”      He got   a   message   that   we   are   bother   to   people   if   we   show   emotions,   and   he carried   that   message   through   out   his   life.   With   the   message   like   that   to   kids,   I am   not   surprised   that   we   always   rank   in   the   top   five   for   suicide.   There   is   a   lot of   suicide   in   Montana.   And   it   is   mostly   men   who   commit   suicide   here.   We   are conditioned   here   not   to   bother   people   with   our   problems,   work   them   out   on your own.
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  Russell Rowland: the voice of Montana
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There's   a   moment   as   a   reader, not    often    enough    felt,    when you     sigh     comfortably     and relax,      because      you      know you're   in   good   hands.   So   you feel   this   way   when   you   read the        books        of        Russell Rowland. On   JBN   talented   and   amazing Russell     Rowland     discusses his   famous   and   brilliant   book -    In    Open    Spaces    and    his book   he   works   now   on   "Be   A Man",    about    the    effects    of growing   up   in   Montana.   Also, he    talks    about    his    favorite book's   characters,   his   plans, his   family...      and   he   gives   few important    advice    to    another writer. JBN:    I    know    you    are    from    a    fourth-generation    Montana's family. Tell please more about yourself... Russell   Rowland:    I   was   born   in   Montana:   Bozeman.   My   dad   was a    student    there    when    I    was    born.    I    grew    up    pretty    much    in Montana   or   in   Wyoming.   But   we   moved   around   a   lot.   We   finally ended   up   in   Billings   when   I   was   12   y.o.   I   became   interested   in books   when   I   was   in   my   twenties.   I   started   reading   a   lot   after college.   I   was   studying   Music   at   Pacific   Lutheran   University   and there   I   started   reading   a   lot.   I   don't'   know   why   but   I   just   decided   to try   writing.   So   I   started   writing   short   stories   and   many   of   them   were rejected.   But   I   really   wanted   to   do   it.   I   just   kept   writing.   When   I went    through    a    divorce    in    late    80s,    I    joined    the    navy.    I    was stationed   in   Connecticut.   There   was   really   good   creative   writing instructor   at   Connecticut   College   which   was   just   up   to   street   from my   ship.   I   took   some   writing   classes   from   her   and   I   put   together enough   material   to   apply   to   graduate   school.   I   went   to   graduate school   for   creative   writing   in   Boston   University   and   that   is   where   I wrote   my   first   book.   It   is   a   novel   called   "In   Open   Spaces".   That novel   is   really   based   on   our   family   history.   Talk   about   the   early 20th-century   ranching   family. Took   11   years   to   get   it   published. The book   received   a   starred   review   from   the   Publishers   Weekly.   It   did   it pretty well. I have been fortunate to publish five books now. JBN:            What topics           are important       to you?        About what     else     do you write? R    u    s    s    e    l    l      Rowland:      My second        book was   actually   the sequel     to     the first     one.     The first    two    books were    based    on my    family.    But for      the      third novel,                 I changed         my focus.    I    had    a d   r   i   n   k   i   n   g     problem   when   I was   young,   and for    that    book    I wanted   to   write a      b      o      u      t        alcoholism.   The story     is     about an         alcoholic who      used      to play      baseball. He   moves   to   Montana   to   get   away   from   a   lot   of   problems   that   he created   back   East   and   of   course,   he   ends   up   creating   even   more problems   because   he   still   has   drinking   issues.   He   starts   to   make trouble   almost   immediately.   Eventually,   he   has   to   face   the   original problem   that   he   thought   he   left   behind...      So   it’s   kind   of   redemption story.   It   was   a   hard   one   to   write.   And   in   this   book,   you   can   meet one   character   I   like   very   much.   It   is   three-legged   dog   named   Dave, the   only   friend   of   the   protagonist.   Of   course,   he   is   not   human   so the   behavior   of   that   alcoholic   man   doesn't   hurt   him   as   much,   he doesn't   have   to   deal   with   human   emotions.   And   that   dog   was based on my friend’s pet, whom I really loved. JBN:   Do   you   have   another   character   from   your   book,   about whom you can say it is one of your favorite except that dog? Russell   Rowland:   There’s   a   woman,   Helen,   in   the   first   two   novels who   is   real   evil.   And   she   is   based   on   my   mom's   aunt   who   was mean     but     not     nearly     as     mean     as     this     character.     I     really exaggerated    her.    She    was    fun    to    write    because    she    was    so sneaky!   She   does   a   lot   of   really   despicable   things   but   she   was quite behind the scenes so people can't blame her. JBN: What does your writing routine look like? Russel   Rowland:   It's   varies.   It   depends   on   what   I’m   working   on.   I don't   write   every   day   but   I   pretty   close.   I   also   work   with   other writers.   I   try   to   spend   my   morning   getting   my   work   stuff   out   of   the way   so   I   can   write   in   the   afternoon   without   thinking   about   what   I’m supposed to do.  JBN: Which book was the easier and the harder one to write? Russel    Rowland:    The    first    was    the    easiest    for    some    reason. Probably   because   I   didn't   really   know   what   I   was   doing.   I   was   just writing   what   came   in   my   head.   I   never   really   struggle   with   writing block   so   I’m   pretty   lucky   that   way.   The   hardest   was   the   last   one, which   is   called   "Fifty-Six   Counties".   I   went   to   every   county.   It   was my   first   non-fiction   books   and   it   was   hard   because   I’m   used   to   just making   stuff   up   and   this   one   had   to   be   factual.   I   have   never   been   a journalist   so   I   had   to   learn   how   to   interview   people,   take   notes   and all   that   stuff,   which   I’ve   never   really   done.   It   was   a   challenge   but   I enjoyed it. JBN: How do you work with another writer? Russell   Rowland:   A   lot   of   writers   hire   me   to   help   with   their   books. I   also   teach   writing   workshops   online.   I   have   been   pretty   lucky because a few people I worked with published their books. JBN:   Can   you   please   share   some   advice   you   usually   give   to writers? Russell    Rowland:    The    hardest    thing,    especially    when    you’re writing   fiction,   is   to   learn   to   develop   your   own   voice.   If   you   write with   too   much   intention   to   be   commercial,   of   making   it   salable,   it’s not    going    to    be    authentic.    Some    people    try    too    hard    write something   that   can   be   attractive   to   the   publisher   instead   of   just following   their   own   heart,   writing   what   they   really   want   to   write.   I   try to   push   people   in   that   direction. And   you   just   have   to   be   persistent, rejection is part of the job. You have to get used to that. JBN:    What    did    your    mom    say    about    your    novel    "In    Open Spaces"? Russell   Rowland:   When   you   write   a   book   based   on   your   family,   it is   always   little   dangerous   because   some   people   may   take   it   wrong or   take   offense.   And   there   were   some   relatives   that   didn't   like   my first   couple   of   books.   But   my   mom   loved   them.   Also,   that   evil character   (the   aunt   of   my   mom)   helped   to   reunite   my   mom   with   her cousin   (the   daughter   of   evil   lady).      They   were   the   same   age,   they grow   up   together   and   because   their   mothers   didn't   get   along,   they didn’t   spend   much   time   together   as   kids.   This   cousin   ended   up reading   the   book   and   it   bothered   her   a   little   that   the   character   that was   based   on   her   mom   was   so   evil.   But   she   is   pretty   amazing women   and   she   understood.   She   and   my   mom   they   really   didn't communicate   as   much   as   adults,   but   they   got   together   and   they talked about the book. And they become closer since then. JBN: How long did you work on "Fifty-Six Counties" Russell     Rowland:     I traveled      about      four months   altogether.   But it   wasn't   all   at   once.   I did          in          different sections.   Four   different tours   in   the   state   -   four different    parts    of    the state.   And   then   I   spent about        two        years working   on   that   book.   I did   a   lot   of   research,   I read   a   lot   of   the   history of   Montana.   I   went   to museums,     a     lot     of people   I   talked   to   were the         volunteer         in museums.      There      is one         museum         in Montana      in      Polson. There   is   this   guy   who created   a   museum   and he   has   been   running   it for     about     40     years.       He’s    in    his    80s    now. It's    the    huge    building and        an        amazing collection   of   random   stuff,   like   tractors   and   machines,   with   no   real order.   Except   for   few   areas   that   are   sort   of   organized. And   this   guy has   devoted   all   his   life   to   this   place.   It   is   real   touching.   He   talked   a lot   about   how   his   wife,   who   is   dead   now,   helped   him. And   you   can tell   that   her   death   has   affected   him   -   the   place   was   dusty,      it   just seems that he lost part of his interest after she passed away. JBN: What are you working on now? Russell   Rowland:    I   have   two   novels   finished   that   I   am   going   to   try to   publish   this   next   year   —   Arbuckle   and   The   Difference   Between Us.   Those   two   are   done,   but   the   one   I   am   working   on   right   now   is a   memoir.   So   I   am   writing   about   my   childhood   but   with   a   kind   of specific   theme.   I   am   writing   about   growing   up   male   in   the   west. That   stereotype   that   you   should   be   macho   and   tough,   never   ask for   help.   Is   called   "Be   a   Man".   Because   we   live   in   the   place   what has   such   a   brutal   history,   and   also   with   this   pressure   to   be   self- sustaining   and   self-reliant,   I   find   it   fascinating   how   that   affects people.   So,   for   example,   I   just   lost   my   uncle   a   few   month   ago,   he was   my   godfather,   we   were   really   close. And   he   used   to   tell   a   story about   how   he   and   his   cousin   were   riding   on   the   ranch   one   day   and they   decided   to   go   swimming.   They   decided   to   swim   in   this   one reservoir   where   his   father   was   told   them   to   never   swim.   His   cousin wasn't   a   good   swimmer   and   he   drowned.   Of   cause   my   uncle   felt horrible,   he   was   only   ten. And   his   cousin   was   12.   When   they   found the   body   all   the   family   and   neighbors   were   gathered   at   the   house. My   uncle   was   crying.   And   in   that   moment,   the   older   sister   of   that drowned   cousin   sat   next   to   him   and   said:   "You   need   to   stop   crying, you’re   no   helping   anyone,   you’re   just   making   it   worse”      He   got   a message   that   we   are   bother   to   people   if   we   show   emotions,   and he   carried   that   message   through   out   his   life.   With   the   message   like that   to   kids,   I   am   not   surprised   that   we   always   rank   in   the   top   five for   suicide.   There   is   a   lot   of   suicide   in   Montana.   And   it   is   mostly men   who   commit   suicide   here.   We   are   conditioned   here   not   to bother people with our problems, work them out on your own.
Johnson’s Billings News
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Hosted by Johnson Computing
They are read.  We are Quoted!!!
  Russell Rowland: the voice of Montana