Author with Creede ties publishes book

Photo courtesy of John Lawley A new author has hit the bookshelves and has a place close to her heart just for Creede. Rachel Stark has embarked on a journey of a lifetime, and she attributes her success to the wonderful people in her life and her second home in Creede

CREEDE – Rachel Stark was reminded of her hometown the first time she ventured to Creede. Though Perris, Calif., is in a more desert terrain, she couldn’t help but feel a connection when a job opportunity took her from the West Coast to the Rocky Mountains in Creede.

Stark had begun the long, magical task of writing a novel – “Perris, California” – and had about half of the story finished by the time she graduated from the University of California, Davis, grad school. Her book was based in her hometown of Perris and using the love and support shown to her by the many women in her life, she created a wonderful polyphonic story about the social confines put on women during the 1980s and 1990s.

“I spent a lot of time thinking about whether I should use my hometown as the location for my book. It felt too close to home, and I felt a great responsibility to represent Perris with complexity, integrity and tenderness.  There are more trees than people and both the land and the people are very special to me,” she said.

In 2019, Stark found herself whisked to Creede, where she finally found time to continue her novel in the beautiful Colorado Rockies while working on a ranch. Not long after, COVID hit, and she had all the time she needed to finish her book.

Once the book was finished, she allowed the family to read her rough draft and received positive feedback.

“Then a friend of mine, Molly, asked if she could read the book and I was hesitant at first. The writing process is so dear to me. It's something so magical. I was nervous.”

Stark met Molly in a coffee shop where she worked in Sacramento, Calif., and thus a friendship was born with a twist of lavender lemonade.

Stark pushed through and allowed her friend to read the novel.

“Once she was done, she asked if she could share it with her mother and that made me even more nervous,” laughed Stark. “Her mother was such a strong woman who worked in advertising in New York. But I said yes and off my book went.”

Within a few days, Stark heard back from her friend’s mom and was told her novel was something special. From that point forward, Stark found herself in a whirlwind of dreams come true as she stood back and watched her novel take flight, first going to an agent in New York and then being sold to Penguin House Books Publishing.

“Everything is still so surreal for me. It is the love and support of my family, friends and the Creede community that keeps me grounded. I couldn’t believe at the start of the journey that this was real. This was happening to me, and I feel so blessed,” she said.

Stark now calls Colorado home and keeps in close contact with the friends she has in Creede.

“All the people showing up for me in my life right now is what makes this real. It keeps me grounded and is very heart filling. I am so grateful for all of them,” she said.

A brief description of the book follows, “Abandoned first by her father and then her mother, as a girl Tessa is left to live with her abusive stepfather and stepbrother. She survives by finding reserves of strength in herself, and by the surprising, transformative love of another teenage girl, Mel, who sees through Tessa’s tough exterior to the vulnerable, scarred, loving woman inside. When she suddenly loses Mel, too, Tessa stumbles into a saving grace of a different kind with Henry and his mama, Angie, becoming a mother and finding herself in a familial existence that somehow carries her into adulthood—until the day she runs into Mel, who has just returned to Perris after years away.

Filled with violence, tragedy, tenderness, longing, and the unvarnished courage of women living in a mostly unseen America, Perris, California is the utterly gripping story of Tessa’s journey from trauma to healing, and it introduces us to one of the most indelible female characters since Bone Boatwright in Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina or Ruth Langmore in Ozark.”




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