Sunday, January 18, 2015

New Book: Twisted Trails by Alex Hutchinson


From the first day I climbed on a mountain bike, I felt the need to write about the experience. Freedom, independence, self-propulsion and exploration are concepts so revealing of our nature that they beg for the loving embrace of short story fiction. These past six years have provided me with a wealth of interesting characters, intense races and natural beauty. All of which made it easy and fun to write these stories.

This is my first collection of short stories which is odd because people have always told me that it is my strongest format. I chose to publish via e-book because I firmly believe that digital media is the wave of the future. Almost all of my books have a version in e-book and they outsell my printed books 4 to 1. Releasing the book this way also allows me to keep a low price and market directly to the target audience - mountain bikers.


The genesis of this book came from the yearly Dirt Rag Literature Contest. I loved the idea of fictional tales about this sport and imagined what it might be like to publish a collection of such stories. I wrote my own over the years until it amounted to about 20 stories. Most were complete, some half done. For the sake of making Twisted Trails a book worthy of my audience, I picked the absolute best of the best and went to work on polishing them.

If I could compare it to any other book on the market, the closest example would be Rope Burns by F.X. Toole. Rope Burns was a small collection of short stories about the sport of boxing. The author worked in the sport and was able to give readers a deeper look at pugilism from many different angles. Some stories from his book were adapted to make the Oscar winning film Million Dollar Baby directed by Clint Eastwood.


The process of picking the right narratives was tricky. I didn't want to create any stories that would show mountain biking in a bad light or give rise to negative stereotypes. I did want to exaggerate the situations we sometimes find ourselves in - lost, exposed, in the heat of competition or in the debt of exhaustion. I wanted to write about what it feels like to be temporarily free from the false structures of societal expectations. In those rare moments of poetic happenstance, I believe that Twisted Trails has achieved that goal.

What are the stories about? I always thought that mountain biking provides a great platform for working out eternal truths. I wanted these morality tales to last the test of time. That is why many have a theme broader than just the subject matter. Moonscape is about a man who turns his back on nature and pays a price for it. Why We Race is an exploration of the cyclist as an identity. Riding Under the Influence is about taking responsibility for our mistakes even if it might cost us to do so. The Ballad of Queen V is the story of a girl trying to live up to a promise she made to her late father.


No one writes a book alone. I owe thanks to a trusty team who helped me through this process. My editors Heather Childress and Terri Brashear both took time from their busy schedules to comb through every detail correcting my grammatical adventurism. Illustrator and long time friend Rob Mackiewicz, co-creator of the Lil' Levi comic, was kind enough to do cover art.

This is my first book in seven years. During that time I've grown as a writer, learning so much about character development, drama and word play. The tales were inspired by my fellow riders and were written to entertain them. These people have become my surrogate family so I hope I have served them well. Hopefully we will have many more years together to enjoy these Twisted Trails.

Twisted Trails release date is Feb 15th, 2015


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