Nearly two years after its initial publication, a novel written by a local writer continues to resonate with readers as well as garner accolades.
"The Miseducation of Cameron Post," a coming-of-age story set in eastern Montana and written by Miles City native emily m. danforth (sic) was honored last weekend at the High Plains Book Awards in Billings. Danforth's debut novel took home the top prize in two categories, Best Woman Writer and Best Young Adult Book. Though the book also won the 2012 Montana Book Award earlier this year, danforth, an assistant professor of English and creative writing at Rhode Island College in Providence, continues to be astounded by the novel's success.
"I was pretty flabbergasted, quite frankly," she said of the awards. "I've just been unthinkably lucky with this book; knowing other writers like I do, this kind of success for a first book is tremendously unusual. I recognize how lucky I've been in that way."
Set predominantly in Miles City in the early 1990s, 'The Miseducation of Cameron Post,' tells the story of Cameron, a teenager coming to terms with the death of her parents, surviving life in small-town Montana and dealing with and accepting the fact she is gay.
Since its release in early 2012, "The Miseducation of Cameron Post" has received outstanding reviews from such industry notables as Publishers Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, Kirkus Reviews and Booklist. It was also named a finalist for the 2013 Young Adult Library Services Association Morris Award, given for a debut novel written for teens, and also made the list for the Best Young Adult Books of 2012 by the Boston Globe.
Currently working on her second novel, danforth said the process of writing the follow-up is not without a little trepidation.
"There is definitely a pressure there that wasn't there before," danforth said. "When I was writing the first book I didn't even have a sense that it would ever be sold. You just hope someone will read it. Now that the book found an audience, readers are curious about the next book. It's a good pressure, I'm happy to have it, but it's a very different writing process."
The High Plains Book Awards ceremony was the finale of the High Plains BookFest, a two-day event featuring authors and photographers from around the region. The theme of this year's event was "Women Writing the West." The Billings Public Library Board has established the High Plains Book Awards to recognize regional authors and/or literary works which examine and reflect life on the High Plains including the states of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Danforth praised coordinators for creating a memorable event for all who attended.
"The whole weekend was pretty fantastic," danforth said. "It's a tremendous event, and it's exciting to see the city of Billings participate in something like that."