Author to read from story collection

Erica Olsen will sign and read from her book, “Recapture” at the Mancos Public Library on Nov. 10, 10 a.m. Enlargephoto

MICHAEL TROUTMAN

Erica Olsen will sign and read from her book, “Recapture” at the Mancos Public Library on Nov. 10, 10 a.m.

A quietly artistic author is going to be at the Mancos Public Library to sign her first volume of stories. And they are not just any stories; they are about the Four Corners area where she has lived and worked.

Erica Olsen is the writer and creator of “Recapture,” a fictitious collection of her experiences and impressions of places such as Moab, Arches National Park and southeast Utah, southwest Colorado and the Grand Canyon.

She currently lives in Moab and has lived in Dolores and worked at the Anasazi Heritage Center, where she also read from her new book a couple of weeks ago.

But, the reading at the Mancos library will be a “bit more conversational.”

“It’s like a big, giant ‘what-if’,” she said. She likes to call her stories ‘contemporary tall tales’.

The stories have been written over the last 15 years or so. They didn’t start out as a book, but as separate stories. They are stories that came from her experiences, an idea here or there, or from people that she met or things that she did. “They are fictional, not autobiographical, but stem from things that I have seen in this area,” she said.

“You know, like stories you would tell around a campfire, something like Paul Bunyan.” So, they are part of Olsen’s imagination and she wants the reader to use their’s as well.

She contracted with the Torrey House publishers in March 2011 and their motto is “Writing the New West.” Olsen’s stories seems to really fit in with their genre, that of telling about how the West has changed in recent years. They are a fairly new company based out of Salt Lake City and named after Torrey, Utah.

She was artist-in-residence at the Aspen Guard Ranger Station in 2004, and wrote about her experience there in an article for the High Country News. (Dec. 20, 2004) She feels as though she has come full circle to this area, having gone away and come back. She visited the Mancos Public Library then, when it was a smaller building at the corner of Main and Grand, and that’s why she wants to read part of her book to an audience at the library.

“I’m really an artist in ‘residence’ now,” she said.

“I wrote the book for everyone, but people in this area will be able to relate to many of the things that I have written about in it.” said Olsen.

Her stories relate to what the people in this area do, she said, things like visiting ancient sites, the desire to take away artifacts, camping in the desert and being an archaeologist. But she also deals with universal subjects such as ex-boyfriends, relationships and living alone, told in a slightly different way.

“I just hope to create a new impression,” she said.

Her current project is a novel that takes place here in the western part of the U.S., is fictional natural history, she said, and deals with the rivers of this area.

Olsen’s short fiction has been in the High Desert Journal and other publications.

The book reading and signing is Nov. 10 at 10 a.m. to noon. She will sell her signed books for $15 each, and 10 percent of that goes to the Friends of the Library.

“I feel lucky to have the life I have right now.”