We’re preparing to release Jill Homer’s second book in June.
Title: “Be Brave, Be Strong: A Journey Across the Great Divide”
Author: Jill Homer
Page count: 308
Genre: Adventure memoir
Price: $17.95 hardcopy, $8.95 eBook
I grew up in Sandy, Utah, and graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in journalism in 2000. I started my career working at weekly and daily newspapers in Utah and Idaho. In 2005, I moved to Homer, Alaska, to pursue adventure in the Last Frontier. I never viewed myself as an athlete, but I was searching for a unique kind of outlet that provided both physical and psychological challenges. Endurance cycling fit that description. Two years of (mainly mis)adventures led me to one of the most difficult endurance races in North America, a 350-mile winter traverse of Alaska wilderness called the Iditarod Trail Invitational. The unforgettable experience was the genesis of my first book, Ghost Trails: Journeys Through a Lifetime. I’ve lived in Juneau, Anchorage and Missoula, Montana, and currently work as a freelance writer and editor in Los Altos, California.
Tell us about your book:
Be Brave, Be Strong: A Journey Across the Great Divide is the detailed and honest account of my attempt to break the women’s record in an event that has been described as “the toughest mountain bike race in the world.” The Tour Divide travels 2,740 miles from Canada to Mexico along the rugged spine of the Rocky Mountains, in a race that’s entirely self-supported. I started this race in the summer of 2009 under less than ideal circumstances, and the storyline follows a journey toward personal growth alongside a thrilling adventure narrative.
How long did it take to write the book?
The actually writing of the book took place from December 2009 to March 2010. Working up the courage to release these personal and often painful experiences into the public realm took quite a bit longer.
Riding the Great Divide Mountain BIke Route in Montana
What inspired you to write the book?
It’s become a cliche thing for authors, especially memoirists to say, but I feel I had no choice but to write this book. I tend to have a strong and vivid memory, and I feel I can’t fully process experiences until I write them down, thereby releasing them to a place outside myself where I can step back and reflect. I write for selfish reasons, but at the same time believe that readers can gain their own perspective and strength from the experiences I write about.
Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
During the race, I wrote down a few journal entries and also had race reports from which I could glean details. As I was writing, I kept the race maps nearby. Seeing the depiction of the course, as well as the names of landmarks and places, helped jog my memory and reconstruct the experience.
What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
As with my first book, I hope they finish with a strong desire to succeed at a goal that before seemed outlandish, overly challenging, or outright impossible. As an adventure writer, I believe I stand apart in my willingness to be unflinchingly honest, and not gloss over the mishaps, the mistakes, and the outright humiliations that come with overcoming difficult challenges. My intent is to not only bring readers into the depth of the adventure, but also to emphasize that ordinary people, with ordinary human failings, have the ability to do something extraordinary. Doubt should never be a limiting factor.
Where can we go to buy your book?
Beginning June 15, the book will be released and available for sale at www.arcticglasspress.com. Digital eBooks will also be available at Amazon and Smashwords.
Any other links or info you’d like to share?
Visit my blog at arcticglass.blogspot.com.
Excerpt from book:
More hours passed this way — climbs so sticky and steep I could barely walk up them, followed by descents so steep and slathered in wheel-grabbing mud that they were only navigable with intense focus and a Zen-like shutdown of natural fear. The torrent continued to fall with duration and volume I scarcely thought possible in the desert. The sheer amount of rain seemed to match the wettest storms I had encountered while riding through the rainforests of Juneau. It pushed me deep into the hopelessness those gray rides often instill — a certainty that it will never stop raining, ever, throughout the span of the rest of eternity.
As I trudged up another thousand-foot climb, the thick aroma of the forest air started to permeate my consciousness. It was a singularly unique fragrance — a savory and spicy blend of cedar and sage with hints of charcoal and wood smoke — remnants of long-snuffed forest fires, perhaps. Infused with the fresh sweetness of the rain and the pungent oils of pinion nuts, the scent swirled around my nose with overwhelming intensity. As soon as I noticed it, I became wholly immersed in its charred, sugary, juniper-imbibed perfume, until I started to feel physically ill. I knew I would never forget that smell, and that it would always haunt me in sickness and pain, the way I always recalled a vanilla air freshener that once hung in my parents’ car whenever I came down with motion sickness. Just as that artificial vanilla had become, the smell of the Gila was permeated in repulsiveness so vile that it evoked a hundred memories of suffering. The smell of the Gila was a hate smell. For as beautiful and wild as the landscape was, I hated the Gila.”