Does the past really matter? Fleeing a failed marriage and a failed profession, a woman on the dangerous side of forty decides a Montana ghost town holds the key to the mystery of her birth. Hard-living AJ Armstrong is obsessed by history, especially her own. Abandoning her academic career, she arrives in the run-down mountain town of Misfire, Montana, armed only with her willingness to take on the world with a double-shot of irony chased down with a dose of pessimism. Roped into a temporary job at the town's weekly newspaper, AJ finds a friend in worldly-wise Rheta, a former prostitute turned editor. Rheta not only knows where all the bodies are buried in Misfire, she has a pretty good idea where AJ should seek the scandals still haunting nearby Bannack, infamous for its violent history. AJ's plan is to figure out how her roots are entangled with that ghost town's past--and then to hit the highway. Before she can escape, AJ is warned to "leave the past alone," advice amplified by a devastating fire and a death that may or may not be accidental. But stubbornly digging through history is what AJ does best. As lives intersect and specters are raised, Bannack finally gives up its ghosts, and AJ's life is forever altered. Winner of the prestigious Utah Original Writing Competition, this novel conveys a sense of small-town Montana life as lived in the shadow of the mountains and reveals its story with sharp humor, distinctive characters, and a satisfying ending. The author is a Big Sky Country native who spent her early career as a newspaper reporter for Southwest Montana newspapers before settling down to teaching and to directing the Writing Center at Southern Utah University.
About the Author
After earning her undergraduate journalism degree from the University of North Dakota, Montana native Julie Clark Simon worked for newspapers in Minnesota, Montana and Utah, winning several awards for her feature stories and news writing. During her years as an editor for the Logan (Utah) Herald Journal, Simon completed her master's degree by virtue of taking two Utah State University evening courses per quarter. Following a subsequent stint teaching composition at Southern Utah University, Simon and her husband, Duane, attempted a return to Montana. However, a winter spent washing dishes in the Bozeman food co-op convinced Simon that grading stacks and stacks of freshman essays every evening wasn't the worst way to earn a living. She returned to SUU as the English Department's director of composition. One long leave and a PhD later, she became director of the Writing Center as she continued to teach writing, grammar, and literary theory courses. After winning the state of Utah's Original Writing Competition for the manuscript of The Ghost Town Preservation Society, Simon decided to fulfill a long-held ambition to write full-time. In between trips to Montana, She continues to live in Utah.