Steamboat Springs Like many others who spent years in the Yampa Valley, Kinsley Wood saw the Steamboat Springs lifestyle seep into his soul.
After spending 13 years in Steamboat and leaving in 2003, the guitarist, songwriter and author reverts to his ski bum mentalities when he comes over Rabbit Ears Pass to visit.
“The friends, people, the place, it never leaves you,” said Wood, who now lives in Denver.
Today, he’s bummed that he’s injured and can’t ski. But he can’t wait to get down to the North Mississippi Allstars at today’s outdoor concert on the mountain. He’ll spend his time here catching up with friends, at bars that maybe didn’t exist when he lived here, all the while reveling in the nostalgia of one of his homes.
It’s those small glimpses of the Steamboat culture that make the town a vital character in Wood’s first novel, “Beneath the Surface,” which is available at www.experiencebeneaththesurface.com in paperback and e-book.
He is promoting his book in town this weekend, which he kicked off with a performance and reading Friday night at Harwigs/L’Apogee.
He’ll have a second appearance from 1 to 3 p.m. today at Off The Beaten Path Bookstore II just before the outdoor concert. During the event, he will sign copies of the book as well as do a reading and a musical performance, which will be intertwined just as they are in the book.
“Beneath the Surface” is more than a reading experience: It comes with an 11-song soundtrack and directions in the novel for when and how to listen to the songs.
In the book, protagonist Jake Taylor seesaws between Steamboat Springs and Wood’s hometown, Skaneateles, N.Y., on Skaneateles Lake. Those locations serve as the basis for the novel and a relatable connection to Wood’s own passions for both places.
“Steamboat has always been about skiing, yeah, but it’s the people,” Wood said. “They’re friendly and they’re about living, and they’ve chosen one of the greatest places to be stuck.
“For Skaneateles, it’s the water, that’s what people get out of the book. To me, there’s always one place that’s really home. I’ll always have a love for that body of water.”
The settings offer an emotional stage for a realistic fiction novel, filled with romantic entanglements, personal struggles and introspective reflection.
“The story is nothing amazing,” he said. “It’s romantic, life, love, loss, that kind of thing. I like the story, but it’s not Hemingway. But I think I accomplished a few things in my writing.”
He said he used the reality of the characters to delve deep into their personal narratives and thought processes about their journeys, which he punctuates with lyrical acoustic music.
At one point in the story, Taylor quarrels with love interest Mercy Young. In the midst of the fight, the reader is directed to listen to the song “Tied to You,” which is told from Young’s point of view.
He said weaving musical performance into his novel was a natural progression for him.
“Music is everything,” Wood said. “I love the guitar, I go see music. It’s something I base my life around.
“I’ve got to write and create, and I just have to pick up my guitar. It’s there, bugging me.”
He said there are parts of him in Jake Taylor, but the main similarity is that both play guitar.
The only love affairs in the book that are truly autobiographical are the relationships with the guitar, Steamboat and Skaneateles.
“The true feelings in the book are about music and the two places,” he said. “Those are mine. The rest is just a cool story I made up.”
— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or e-mail ninglis@SteamboatToday.com