Oct. 23, 2007
By Ben Beagle
Judy Sesceil of Akron learned about the “A Tale for Three Counties” community reading project a couple of years ago from a co-worker.
She has read the most recent books and on Monday caught up with a Tale author she had missed. Howard Frank Mosher visited Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties as part of the 2004 program.
“I thought he was a great storyteller. I can’t wait to read his books,” she said after Mosher’s Monday morning talk and book signing at Richmond Memorial Library.
Mosher, who returned to help announce the 2008 Tale selection, used his updated slide show, “Where in the World is Kingdom County?,” to show the places and people that have inspired his novels about a fictional community of many unique characters in Northern Vermont. He also talked about filmmaker Jay Craven’s adaptations of three of his novels and the Civil War novel, featuring more Kingdom County characters, that he is finishing.
It was the humor of his latest novel, On Kingdom Mountain, especially main character Miss Jane Hubbell Kinneson, that brought Janis Colby of Corfu to the library.
“I love to read, and love new things by different authors,” said Colby, who counts James Patterson and John Grisham novels as frequent reading choices.
Mosher chronicled his journey to Orleans and Irasburg, Vt., – “a pretty rough-looking place to this day” – from the first teaching jobs for him and his wife, to their return after a brief detour to Los Angeles when Mosher was accepted into a master’s writing program at the University of California.
“I had not been there two days when I realized I had made the mistake of my life. There was no place to catch a trout or talk to an old timer,” said Mosher, who with his wife grew up in rural Central New York.
It was at a stop light at Hollywood and Vine that Mosher recalled a telephone truck stopping alongside him and the driver, apparently seeing the car’s Vermont license plate, called out hurriedly, “I’m from Vermont too; go back while you still can.”
Upon returning, Mosher met three people who would color Kingdom County: his first landlady, who saved the family farm by making moonshine during Prohibition and later married the government agent once sent to arrest her; crusty old logger Jake Blodgett who inspired many characters, and wild and anarchistic but “Abe Lincoln honest” Marjorie Moore, one of several women who inspired Miss Jane Hubbell Kinneson.
“In some ways,” said Mosher, the author of nine novels, “the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont turned out to be my graduate school.”
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Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation