Thursday, April 24, 2014

National Parks Week: Scott Graham Q & A

In honor of National Parks Week, I asked Scott Graham for a guest post. Since Scott is traveling right now, he put together some questions and answers about himself and his books. Thanks, Scott.

Scott Graham has explored the Grand Canyon all his life. He has backpacked into the canyon’s farthest reaches, and rowed his own eighteen-foot raft down the canyon’s notorious Colorado River rapids. He is an avid outdoorsman and amateur archaeologist who enjoys rock climbing, skiing, backpacking, mountaineering, river rafting, and whitewater kayaking with his wife, an emergency physician, and their two sons. Graham’s book, Extreme Kids, won the National Outdoor Book Award. His five nonfiction books have been reviewed positively by many publications, including the New York Times. Graham lives in Durango, Colorado. Canyon Sacrifice is his first mystery.

What inspired your love for the outdoors? 
I moved from heavily polluted inner-city Akron, Ohio, to Durango, Colorado, at age ten. I remember looking around me at the surrounding mountains and forests while waiting outside to enter my elementary school for my first day of classes in Durango and realizing I’d been transported to heaven. I backpacked for the first time that fall, hunted and killed my first deer at age twelve, and have been happily exploring the West’s mountains, canyons, and deserts ever since.

You are obviously familiar with the Grand Canyon—how did you use your personal experience and expertise when writing Canyon Sacrifice
I was lucky to first visit the Grand Canyon as a child with my family, and I’ve explored the canyon regularly in the years since. Because I’ve spent time at the canyon in many ways—backpacking, camping, day hiking, river rafting—it was easy to immerse myself in that fantastic place during the writing of Sacrifice. It was gratifying to share with readers the real places along the South Rim and in the canyon that I’ve loved for so many years, while creating a number of fictional locales at the canyon as well.

Does your family enjoy the outdoors as much as you do? 
I was fortunate to be raised by outdoors-loving parents who introduced me as a boy to skiing, backpacking, mountaineering, and hunting in the mountains of southwest Colorado. A generation later, my wife Sue and I have enjoyed introducing our two sons to the outdoors as well.

Before our sons were born, Sue and I backpacked, trekked, and mountaineered extensively in the Himalayas, Andes, and American and Canadian Rockies. We introduced our sons to the outdoors as soon as we could, taking them on multi-day river-rafting and backpacking trips as toddlers, putting them on skis at age two, and celebrating their fifth birthdays by overnighting in snow caves we built with them.

Both our boys have taken to the outdoors. They kayak, ski, backpack, hunt, fly fish, mountain bike, trail run, and rock climb. Though they’re independent teenagers now, I’m happy to report they’re still willing to do many of those activities with Sue and me.

What is your biggest national park pet peeve? 
Our national parks truly are “America’s best idea.” I’m a champion of the thousands of park staffers and employees who dedicate their professional lives to protecting and preserving our parks for future generations.

My only park pet peeve is that, as a regular visitor to national parks across the West, I’ve seen the damage ongoing federal funding cuts are doing to our national treasures. Our parks deserve—and require—our support as owners and taxpayers.

Tell us a little about Book 2 in the National Park Mystery Series. 
Book 2 is set in another park I’ve explored many times—Rocky Mountain National Park in the Colorado Rockies northwest of Denver.

Here’s a synopsis:

While overseeing a crew of college students working the modern archaeological dig of an abandoned, century-old gold mine in the park, series protagonist Chuck Bender finds his own life threatened by sinister forces when he steps in to protect his assistant and brother-in-law, Clarence Ortega, from a false murder accusation. Long-buried secrets blaze to life among the locals of the park-gateway town of Estes Park during the searing, drought-stricken summer that has followed close on the heels of devastating floods. 

Tell us about your most recent outdoor adventure. 
I met up with a group of two dozen friends to raft the Class IV whitewater of the Colorado River through Westwater Canyon on the Colorado-Utah border. A hailstorm greeted us at the put-in, dropping the temperature to 39 degrees. Fortunately, the autumn sun popped out after the storm, and we had a great trip, floating the river past golden cottonwoods and carousing around the campfire.

Canyon Sacrifice, a National Park Mystery, hits shelves June 2014 from Torrey House Press, and is available now for pre-order.

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