Karin Mitchell presents ‘The Power of Stories’ at CMC Breckenridge
If you go
What: “The Power of Stories,” with author Karin Mitchell, part of the Colorado Mountain College Speaker Series
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 27
Where: Paul & Eileen Finkel Auditorium, Colorado Mountain College, 107 Denison Placer Road, Breckenridge
Cost: Free and open to the public
Silverthorne author Karin Mitchell will give a presentation titled “The Power of Stories” as part of the Colorado Mountain College Speaker Series on Friday, March 27, in Breckenridge.
“I find stories incredibly powerful,” Mitchell said. “We all operate on narrative, from the stories we learned as little kids that taught us moral lessons to the stories we tell ourselves about our experiences. Informed narrative has the power to change our lives.”
Mitchell’s first young adult literary novel, “Between Families,” tells the story of 12-year-old Seffra, who moves into an institution when her drug-addicted mother is no longer able to care for her.
Here, the author tells us a bit more about the book and her presentation in Breckenridge.
SUMMIT DAILY NEWS: Why did you write this book, and how did you work through the process?
KARIN MITCHELL: I wanted to write a book about what it’s like to live in residential treatment. I didn’t know what to do with it. I had no idea how to deal with such a large body of work, so I basically ignored it for about five years.
I got my master’s in writing from Regis (University), with the objective of I really want to learn if I’m a good writer or not. I wanted to learn, how do you tackle such a large body of work? So I worked on it throughout my master’s. I sat down an outline of what the primary conflict was with my advisor. We broke the book up, and in the rewriting process, it became two books.
I have the rough draft for the second book, and I’m just ignoring it for a while until I have the perspective to finish the second one. It’s just such a process for me, and I have two small children, so having focused time to write is a challenge sometimes.
SDN: What is residential treatment? Why did you want to tackle this topic?
KM: Residential treatment is institutional living for kids. There’s a huge variety of reasons why a kid could be in a residential treatment facility. This one in the book is abuse and neglect, but that’s not the case of all treatment facilities. What it comes from is kids who basically are not good candidates for foster care or their home living situation.
It’s really a shock to the public. They have no idea that kids are living in these places. I would go out when I worked in those places and said, I teach at a residential treatment facility. What is that? Why do you do that? I write it to sort of bring some exposure to it. The way the novel is constructed is the first half of the book, she lives at home with her mom. You get a good feel of what her relationship is with her mom; you see the good, the bad, the ugly. Then a series of events occurs that brings her to live in the facility. In the residential facility, the staff really does help her. She learns a lot about herself and she struggles really hard.
SDN: Why do you think your book is an important read for a young-adult audience?
KM: Ultimately, I think my book is another take on the coming-of-age story, a new angle on it. Young readers need to see paths to their strengths, and hopefully, they relate to a character, see how that character faces enormous obstacles and they see that character’s strengths. I hope young readers relate to Seffra, want to see her endure and then can see how they themselves can find hope and strength.
SDN: You said you would be giving out copies of the book to pre-collegiate readers. Tell us more about that.
KM: I’m excited about the opportunity to see pre-collegiate kids participate in an author talk at CMC and wanted to do something to welcome them, so I decided to donate copies to kids attending the event. I’m excited about the pre-collegiate program, which is a program that matches Summit County kids with mentors and helps them into college at Colorado Mountain College. One of the hardest courses for many students is Comp I. It’s also a course that I teach. I wanted to take an opportunity to marry two of my passions by meeting future students and encouraging reading.
SDN: What will the format be for your event at Colorado Mountain College, and what can people expect to walk away with?
KM: I will give a talk and then a reading and, finally, take questions. Afterwards, books are for sale and there will be light appetizers. I hope people walk away excited to read my book, of course, but also to tell their own stories. Writing is good for the soul. I hope students I teach and people I encounter will feel inspired by the written word.
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