Nationally recognized author C. Joseph “Chuck” Greaves will present his Cortez-based novel Saturday at Ignacio Community Library with a reading and Q&A session.
In “Church of the Graveyard Saints,” Greaves weaves romance with a conflict that is relevant to the Four Corners: preserving the environment vs. extracting its natural resources. The novel launched a new program – Four Corners, One Book – in which six or more libraries in the Four Corners joined together to feature a local book each year.
“There’s a lot of different perspectives in that book on environmental issues, on a sense of what home is and how we interact with our sense of home,” said Cassandra Leoncini, Cortez Public Library publicist. “That should make for some pretty interesting discussion.”
Ignacio attendees at the free event will be able to enjoy hot beverages while listening to a reading by Greaves and participating in a Q&A session with the author. The event will start at 10 a.m. Saturday and is open to everyone, even if attendees have not read the book.
Greaves, who became an author after spending 25 years as a Los Angeles trial lawyer, said the novel was like a Shakespearean tragedy.
The “Capulets” of environmental preservation and the “Montagues” of resource extraction square off in the background, while in the foreground, there is a love story, he said, referencing “Romeo and Juliet.”
“Church of the Graveyard Saints” is told from four character perspectives, including a local coming back to the area from Los Angeles and her professor boyfriend, both environmentalists; a father, who is a rancher; and a high school boyfriend, who works for a gas company.
“What I’ve tried to do in this book is to try and tell all sides of the story. There’s a little bit of truth in everybody’s point of view,” Greaves said. “It’s up to the reader to decide where their sympathies lie.”
During the Four Corners, One Book program, Greaves, who lives near Cortez, will present his novel at six libraries: Ignacio, Cortez, Mancos, Dolores, Montrose and Moab, Utah, at several events from December through February.
The program’s purpose is to strengthen a sense of community, to bring people together to discuss issues in an open forum and to encourage reading and literacy, Leoncini said.
Greaves came to the Cortez library with the community reading program idea, and the library helped organize the program, she said. Because author programs can be expensive for libraries, Greaves agreed to do the program free of charge, and the book publisher, Torrey House Press, offered to donate books to participating libraries.
At the Ignacio event, Greaves plans to discuss the novel’s background and his motivation for writing the book.
Andrew Hutchinson, adult services specialist at the library, said the event reflects the library’s mission to connect people with ideas for personal growth. It also reinforces the town’s efforts to become a creative district.
“People can read it, learn more about their local area, talk with a local creator, and maybe why he chose to put those ideas into a novel,” he said.
Greaves can also share his experience of spending two years trying to break into the fiction industry. His breakthrough came when his first novel, “Hush Money,” won the SouthWest Writers’ International Writing Contest.
Contests, he said, are one way to attract an agent who can help make deals with publishers.
Since “Hush Money,” he has written five other mystery, true crime and fiction novels. Those novels made the Wall Street Journal’s “Best Books of 2015” list, became winners or finalists in state and national writing contests and received positive reviews from national and international publications.
“Church of the Graveyard Saints,” however, is his first book about the area where Greaves lives.
“It is a universal story that has application throughout the region,” he said. “It’s a story about coming home and rediscovering your true self.”