Local author Heather Sappenfield celebrates launch of second novel at The Bookworm | VailDaily.com
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Local author Heather Sappenfield celebrates launch of second novel at The Bookworm

Local author Heather Sappenfield is celebrating the launch of her second novel, "Life at the Speed of Us." The event is Friday evening at The Bookworm of Edwards.
Special to the Daily |

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What: Launch party for “Life at the Speed of Us,” local author Heather Sappenfield’s new novel.

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 8.

Where: The Bookworm of Edwards, 295 Main St., Riverwalk at Edwards.

Cost: Admission is $10; copies of the book are available for $11.99.

More information: Sappenfield’s event will include a panel discussion “Teen Means What?” featuring local teens talking about what it’s like to be a teenager in the modern age. Learn more at http://www.bookwormofedwards.com, or call 970-926-7323.

About Heather Sappenfield

• Heather Sappenfield enjoys competing in events on her bike with friends. She once did a road cycling relay race with friends called The Race Across America, which started in San Diego, California, and ended in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It took them six days, 23 hours and some minutes. At the finish, she met Miss America.

• She set out on her own at 17 in a faded orange AMC Gremlin.

• On days she doesn’t write, she tends to get a headache.

• She prefers bikes to cars.

• She has a yellow 1972 Schwinn Breeze named Car.

• Her family has one tiny blue car named Tardis.

• She lives in Vail with her husband and daughter.

• Her fiction has won some nifty awards and nominations.

If there’s no place like home — and there isn’t, especially if you live here — Heather Sappenfield spends her days writing about what she knows and loves.

Sappenfield’s second novel, “Life at the Speed of Us,” is being released today.

Her first two novels are set in a fictionalized valley featuring a world-class ski resort, although you don’t have to examine it through a microscope or click your heels together three times to realize there’s no place like home.

“Readers who live here will recognize the place,” Sappenfield said.

It’s a wide-ranging place, home to a wide-ranging group of people.

“I hope to show readers the varied walks of life in a valley like ours,” Sappenfield said.

She met a couple of people in Denver who’d had a condo in East Vail for years, and they had no idea that we’re such a varied group.

“Very few people know that the local public school district is more than half Hispanic,” Sappenfield said.

All about the books

Her first book was about suicide and its aftermath, “The View from Who I Was.” She said she wanted people to know it happens here. “Life at the Speed of Us” is her second novel. She’s finishing the first draft of her third.

In “Life,” the protagonist’s life is nothing if not complicated, but it is simultaneously fun. Her dad is a ski instructor. She has dyslexia but is a math genius.

“They spend a lot of time skiing and snowboarding,” Sappenfield said.

Sappenfield is also dyslexic, so she knows what she’s talking about.

There’s some math that results in time travel, and they take a trip to Ute tribes living in a fictional version of Vail’s Back Bowls.

One of her readers is a member of the Ute nation. When questions popped up, the reader took the book to the tribal elders, who made sure Sappenfield had the details correct.

She does.

The synopsis goes like this:

“When Sovern Briggs survives a car crash, she stops talking to seal in the memory of the final sounds from her mother’s life. As conflict with her father builds and failure in school looms, Sovern seeks relief in a dangerous boyfriend and in speed’s adrenaline edge.”

Long-time local

Sappenfield has lived in the Vail Valley since 1990 and taught at Battle Mountain High School. She taught ski school and is also a private tutor, freelance journalist and does lots of Internet copy writing.

When the economy tanked in 2008, she took the road less traveled. She headed to Pacific University in Oregon to earn her master of fine arts.

They taught her all sorts of wonderful stuff. Not necessarily how to write — she knew that already — but how to be a writer.

Lesson 1: There’s no such thing as writer’s block. Plant your posterior in that chair and attack that keyboard.

Sappenfield writes adult and young adult fiction. She didn’t set out to do that, but it’s one of those plot twists life sometimes takes.

She has a teenaged daughter and sees firsthand how different it is for teens now than it was for her.

She graduated Arapahoe High School in Boulder. On their gymnasium wall, they had numbers that changed daily to count each of the 444 days the Iranians held 52 Americans hostage during Jimmy Carter’s presidency.

“We were aware of it, of course, and concerned about it, but for most of us, it was way over there,” Sappenfield said.

Teen Means What?

Now, Arapahoe High School has had its own school shooting. At her book events, she’s having panel discussions titled “Teen Means What?”

“The plan is to have teens define for themselves what it means to be a teen,” she said. “What’s it like to be going to school in a time when there are school shootings?”

Today’s event at The Bookworm of Edwards and it begins at 6 p.m. and will have a four-person panel: two students from Battle Mountain High School and two students from Vail Mountain School.

Sappenfield works with Writers House, a New York City agency. Her books are published by Flux, a young adult imprint of Llewellyn, a huge publishing house in San Francisco.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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