Bestselling author Lori Lansens (Rush Home Road, The Girls) admits that she never would have written The Mountain Story–Agoura Hills’ 2015 One Story One Book selection–if she hadn’t moved to the Conejo Valley from Toronto nine years ago.
Lansens, her husband, Milan Cheylov–a television producer/director–and their two children, Max, 15, and Tashi, 13, live in the secluded Lobo Canyon section of Agoura Hills “amongst rattlesnakes, coyotes and bobcats,” she said.
“[The Mountain Story] was first released in Canada [in April] and the reporters asked me if I could have written it if I hadn’t moved to the U.S. I told them, ‘no.’ … It was inspired by my new affection and appreciation for nature.”
The Mountain Story, a dramatic tale of survival and relationships, will not officially be released in the U.S. until June 30; however, Lansens’ publishing company has agreed to launch the book on June 25th locally as part of the month-long celebration.
Mayor Illece Buckley Weber said she chose the book because of it’s “deep family relationships and an endearing friendship with characters that everyone can relate to.”
Having read The Girls, she said Weber is a longtime fan of Lansens’ work. “… when our committee suggested her as our featured writer, and the fact that she resides in Agoura Hills, I was thrilled,” she said. “We learned that Lori’s newest novel, The Mountain Story, sadly inspired by several local tragedies, was being released in 2015 and the committee jumped on this incredible opportunity. Lori has been a pleasure to work with and a true partner in the planning of this year’s events.”
The novel is about a suicidal teenager who travels to Mt. San Jacinto in Palm Springs to kill himself; however, fate intervenes when he meets up with three women, Lansens said. The encounter shifts from misadventure to a nightmare. “It becomes a desperate struggle to stay alive,” she said. “The characters change perspective and become inspired by life and love.”
The book has been well received by the Canadian media. According to Robert Wiersema of The Globe and Mail, “The Mountain Story is a feat of storytelling, sure to be one of the most memorable novels of the year, a skilled balance of thriller and domestic drama, of family secrets and struggle for survival. By its closing pages, it gains an almost devastating emotional force that accompanies the irresistible quality of its narrative drive; It’s a master class in fiction and its potential.”
Lansens, whose literary style has been compared to the writings of John Steinbeck and John Irving, said she is “honored” to be a part of this year’s program. “I am absolutely thrilled to have my book chosen and to bring it to the community in such a celebratory way,” she said. “I’m looking forward to sharing it with book groups and high school students as a way of bringing about unity and empathy.”
Born and raised in Chatham, Ontaria, Lansens, a former screenwriter, began writing in her early 20s. Rush Home Road was translated into eight languages and published in 11 countries.
The One City One Book schedule is as follows:
June 11, 10 a.m.–Preview book party with the author. Enjoy tea and cookies with Lansens while she discusses and reads from her new book. (Location: Agoura Hills Recreation and Event Center, 29900 Ladyface Ct.)
June 25, 6-9 p.m.–A Wine & Cheese Book Launch Party that coincides with the national publisher’s release of The Mountain Story. The public is invited to a special evening with the author, which includes book signings,readings, wine, appetizers, an art show, entertainment and the opportunity to win a book club night with Lansens. The event is free, but you must be 21. For admission details, visit 91301.org. (Location: Agoura Hills Recreation and Event Center, 29900 Ladyface Ct.)
July 13, 3:30 p.m.– Children’s Library Program with the mayor reading Perfect Square, a book about celebrating individuality and thinking outside the box, or in this case, a square. A related craft is also part of the fun. (Location: Agoura Hills Library, 29901 Ladyface Ct.)
July 14, 6 p.m.– Community book discussion on The Mountain Story with author Lori Lansens. (Location: Agoura Hills City Hall, 29901 Ladyface Ct.)
For updated information on One City One Book events, call 818-597-7361 or visit 91301.org.