Craig novelist Jessica Prather inspires young authors during book signing |

Craig novelist Jessica Prather inspires young authors during book signing

Eleanor C. Hasenbeck
Jessica Prather signs a copy of her book “The Traitor's Crux” for Sandy Orgoglioso, left, and Apryl Newkirk. Prather's grandmother, Craig Press columnist Diane Prather, looks over her shoulder.
Eleanor C. Hasenbeck/staff

CRAIG — Jessica Prather’s first novel, “The Traitor’s Crux,” started as a challenge to herself to write a novel in one month as part of National Novel Writers Month.

The event, often shortened to NaNoWriMo, builds a community online, and bookstores and libraries often hold meet-ups and write nights for those participating. In publishing her novel, Prather has inspired other authors-to-be around Northwest Colorado.

Prather, a Moffat County High School alumnus, held a book signing at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Public Libraries on Saturday. At a table surrounded by copies of her young adult fantasy novel, Prather sold and signed books and visited with library patrons.

Apryl Newkirk and Sandy Orgoglioso came in from Meeker to meet Prather and get a copy of “The Traitor’s Crux.” Both work with students at the Meeker School District. Disobeying the old adage, Newkirk said that, judging by its cover, the book would catch young adults’ attention.

“I think a lot of kids would like it. Middle-schoolers would love this book, so they should definitely read it,” Newkirk said. “It looks like it’ll be on their grade level, and it’ll be highly entertaining.”

Newkirk is also working on a science-fiction and fantasy book for young adults and said it was inspiring to see someone else in the community successfully publish a novel. The library has helped connect her to writers workshops and similar events.

Like Prather, who set part of her novel in a dystopian Steamboat Springs of the future — even sending characters on a dangerous mission through Rabbit Ears Pass — Newkirk is inspired by the landscapes of Northwest Colorado. Currently, the first draft of Newkirk’s book is in the hands of an editor.

Prather has also submitted a draft of the sequel to “The Traitor’s Crux.” Her sophomore novel will follow the same characters, she said, though one might be taking on an undercover identity.

“We might see some rebellion and unrest, more than in the first book,” she said.

The Craig branch library is familiar turf for Prather. She once volunteered at the facility.

Her childhood friend, Riley Johnston, sat beside her at the small table.

“I’m so proud of her it’s ridiculous,” said Johnston.

Johnston and Prather lived together when she was writing “The Traitor’s Crux.” Johnston said sometimes Prather was so absorbed in writing that, when she cooked a meal it would take hours for Prather to look up from her work and notice.

Johnston has also started her own fantasy story about a girl prophesied to save the world.

“Writing is so lonely, so it’s great to know people that know the struggle,” Prather said in a conversation with Newkirk.

Copies of “The Traitor’s Crux” are available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Signed copies can be purchased at Downtown Books in Craig.


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