The Write Question

A weekly literary program from Montana Public Radio that features writers from the western United States.

The Write Question podcast

Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books

Welcome to Quinn, Montana, population: 956. A town where nearly all of the volunteer firemen are named Jim, where The Dirty Shame—the only bar in town—refuses to serve mixed drinks (too much work), where the locals hate the newcomers (then again, they hate the locals, too), and where the town softball team has never even come close to having a winning season. Until now.

A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans

by Laurence Yep & Joanne Ryder

illustrated by Mary GrandPre

Yearling, 2016

Miss Drake, the dragon, calls her pet human “Fluffy.” But she was “Great Aunt Amelia” to ten-year-old Winnie, whose single mother inherited Aunt Amelia's mansion after she died. Only Winnie knows that Miss Drake is a dragon, however. Great Aunt Amelia has been regaling her with stories about her dragon through letters since she was young, but only as her death approached did she reveal her true secret.

Montana Historical Society Press

Step out of a world governed by clocks and calendars and into the world of the Kootenai and Blackfeet peoples, whose traditional territories included the area that is now Glacier National Park.

Galaxy Pirates: Hunt for the Pyxis

by Zoe Ferraris

Crown Books for Young Readers, 2015

It so happened that my sixth grade daughter had a book report due last week, so we read Galaxy Pirates: Hunt for the Pyxis together. This was the third book my daughter had started and (unlike the other two) it drew her in from page one with a heart-pounding scene in which Halifax Brightstroke, a young (pregnant) female pirate, is sewn into a sack with a sleeping lynx and tossed overboard by the (also female) captain of the ship when she refuses to divulge the location of the mysterious Pyxis.


Feb 15, 2016
Cover Art: Russell Chatham "Hayfields on the Cottonwood Bench," 2004. Oil, 36" x 48". / Copper Canyon Press

My spirit is starving.
How can it be fed?
Not by pain in the predictable future
nor the pain in the past
but understanding the invisible flower
within the flower that tells it what is,
the soul of the tree that does the same.
I don't seem to have a true character
to discover, a man slumped on his desk
dozing at midmorning. I'm an old poet.
That's it. Period. A three-legged goat
in mountain country. It's easier in the woods
where you have trees to lean on. There at times
I smelled bears right behind the cabin

Helena, Montana, author Brian D'Ambrosio talks about his book Warrior in the Ring: The life of Marvin Camel, Native American world champion boxer.

About the book:

In the Golden Age of boxing, Marvin Camel, from the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana, defied all obstacles of race, poverty, and geographical isolation to become the first Native American to win a world boxing title.

'Willow's Gift' By Connie Myslik-McFadden

Feb 9, 2016

Willow's Gift

by Connie Myslik-McFadden

Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015

When Willow's mother is killed in a car accident, the eighth-grader withdraws into herself, pulling away from her father and her friends at school and relying on her pets for comfort. Soon, she discovers that she can communicate not only with her own animals, but with those in the wild as well.


Feb 8, 2016
Doug Wheller (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


Logic of properties,
hieroglyphics of logical
situations are, of necessity
true, although independent
of falsehood or truth.

Thus, in speaking the truth,
"A world is, as it were,
put together experimentally."


Drumlummon Contemporary Fiction Series / Riverbend Publishing

Survivors Said contains Matt Pavelich's best stories written over four decades. About the collection, Gish Jen, author of Typical American and The Love Wife , writes, “What writing! The stories in Survivors Said are of the young and the old, of people getting out and people getting by. . . .

Camas & Sage: A Story of Bison Life on the Prairie

by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent

illustrated by Christina Wald

Mountain Press Publishing Company, 2015

Camas & Sage is really almost two books in one. The picture book story tells of a lead bison cow named Sage who gives birth to a calf she names Camas. The story follows Camas through her first year of life, from taking her first steps and nursing to following her mother as she leads the herd to find fresh food and water. She learns how to play with the other calves as the adults in the herd position themselves carefully to be aware of predators. The herd braves spring rainstorms and encounters humans at campsites and prairie dogs in the fields. In the summer, Camas learns to protect herself from insects by roaming to higher ridgetops where the wind keeps the bugs at bay, and rolling in the dirt to relieve their itching skin. In late summer, the rut begins, and bulls join the herd, battling each other with their foreheads for the right to mate with the cows. Camas follows her mother as she leaves the herd to mate, and learns to depend more on grass for nourishment as Sage starts to wean her during pregnancy. The cows and calves grow extra fur to protect them from Montana's harsh winters and plow through the snow to find fresh grass to eat. By the time spring arrives, the calves (now yearlings) are becoming more independent, and Camas prepares to take on a leadership role in the herd as her mother gives birth to another calf.