Much like the heroine in her new novel, author Robin Gainey’s adventures transcend most people with exploits of business and travel. From living on a boat in the wild Canadian Inside Passage to studies in Rome, her life is anything but ordinary. She shared her new book and experiences as a writer on Monday, Nov. 13 at the Mineral County Library.
She talked about her second novel “Light of the Northern Dancers” during a presentation held from 2 to 4 p.m. The novel itself was inspired by turn-of-the-century frontier photographer Evelyn Cameron, who was born into a privileged family in England in 1868. She came to America with her husband and eventually ended up in Eastern Montana.
Gainey’s novel follows Eden Rose who came to American from a privileged family in Scotland with her husband. The couple ends up in Wyoming and their adventures wind around Crazy Woman Creek, Powder River and the surrounding territory.
A Seattle friend, who is a producer and screenwriter, read her manuscript and passed it along to another producer in the area, award-winning actor, writer and director Tom Skerritt. He was interested in it as a movie production. But schedules got busy and the manuscript eventually landed in the hands of another producer, who has optioned it for a television series.
Her first novel, “Jack of Hearts,” was based on the point of view of a small, aristocratic dog named Shimoni who tries to hold together his owners relationship in order to maintain the comfortable life for which he’d become accustomed to living. She is also working on a third novel due out this spring about a boy who lost his father in the September 11 attacks in New York. The novel weaves in another story about a pilot during WWI who becomes missing in action.
During her presentation, Gainey explained that her novels don’t follow a particular genre, “I write literary fiction and like the freedom to write anything I want to.”
Her writing style seems to follow her lifestyle, which has followed its own winding course. Raised in Leavenworth, Washington, she lost her mother at a young age and was raised by her author-grandmother. Who she described as five-foot-two and “every inch of her was fire.”
Her grandmother wrote several novels and Gainey saw the discipline and hard work that went into each book. She inherited that discipline and carried it with her into the world of ballet, which she studied for years and is currently a trustee for the Pacific Northwest Ballet.
She also oversaw the breeding and showing of champion Arabian Horses. A family owned business since 1939. With that she competed as an amateur in several horse events and worked on the Gainey ranch. Helping to raise everything from cattle to sugar beets.
As time went on she partnered with her then husband to create California’s Gainey Vineyard, as well as worked along-side famed Julia Childs and founded Santa Barbara’s American Institute of Wine and Food. In addition to living in California, her adventures have taken her to Colorado, Washington and Rome, Italy.
In addition to several other hobbies, Gainey also spends about three months a year cruising the wild Canadian Inside Passage aboard her boat. It’s on these voyages, which are often solo, where she does a lot research, reading and some of her writing.
She seems to slide easily from one profession into another and was met almost immediately with success as a writer. Taking a class from author Susan Wiggs, the two clicked into a friendship and Wiggs became a mentor to the fledgling writer.
“It was Susan who told me to come to Superior,” she told a roomful of people on Monday afternoon. “That’s why I’m here and I’m glad I came.”
Wiggs has been to the little library a couple of times and has a strong fan base in the area. Several of her Superior readers went to visit Wiggs at her home in Bainbridge, Washington a few years ago.
After taking Wiggs class, Gainey took a workshop in Rome in 2002. It was that experience which spawned her first novel and propelled her into the literary world.
“I was very lucky to get an agent who liked my first novel. Most authors don’t get an agent that quickly,” she said, “I feel very fortunate.”
After a question and answer period, refreshments were served and books autographed. Librarians Florence Evans, Echo Hayder and Director, Guna Chaberek provided cookies, punch and a cake from Rosauers which was decorated with a cover of Gainey’s new novel.