Local author will sign his two books this weekend – Steamboat Pilot & Today

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Steamboat Springs author Ken Proper will be at Off the Beaten Path bookstore from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, signing copies of his books “Then & Now” and “Victims of Love.”
Proper, who is also a commercial photographer, published “Victims of Love” in 2020. It’s a novel that takes the reader through Steamboat Springs in the early 1900s, following the story of fictional characters Corina and Julius, mixed in with real events and real people of the town’s past. We caught up with Proper to learn more about his thought process, love of history and passion for the community.
Explore Steamboat: Your latest book is “A Diary by Victims of Love: Banished in 1914 to Steamboat Springs, Colorado.” How did you get the idea for it?
Ken Proper: From the Pilot. When the newspaper was digitized, I could read issues of the Pilot from around 1883 to the early 1920s. The book starts in June of 1914 when Julius is banished from England, and he comes to Steamboat and works at the Cabin Hotel. The main characters are fictional, but there are also historical figures, too, like Clay Munson who was the postmaster.
ES: What was the thought process behind creating a novel with fictional characters but combining it with real photographs, newspaper clippings and other pieces of our town’s history?
KP: History has always been fascinating to me, and I’ve been living here a long time, so consequently, that all got mixed together. I’m very involved with the museums here, and they have a wealth of photographs. I also received some photos from a private collection. In some cases, I read the story around the photo, and in other cases, the story actually happened and was recorded in the newspaper, and my characters became a part of that event. All the events in the book were in the newspaper. Creating the characters just sort of came about. I found 1914 to be a very interesting period, and that’s where I got the idea for Julius. Corina came to Steamboat because she had tuberculosis, and the climate here is good for that. Tuberculosis was a big issue then, so I took that event and made it a part of the story.
ES: What was your favorite part about writing this book?
KP: When it was done. No, I found the whole process to be fascinating. I read everything to my writer’s group three or four times over a five-year period. It took seven drafts because this was the first time that I had ever done anything like this. When I figured out how to keep the plot moving, that helped.
ES: Do you have plans for a third book?
KP: Yes, likely a sequel to “Victims of Love.” It will start in Denver in 1918 and move up to Steamboat.
What: Ken Proper book signing
When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13
Where: Off the Beaten Path, 68 Ninth St.
ES: You are a wealth of knowledge on the town’s history, and you’ve also lived here a long time. What have you seen that has remained the same over the past 100 years, and what has changed?
KP: There has always been agriculture and coal mining. Just recently, the coal mining has started to dwindle, but people have always come to hunt and ski and fish, and they’ve done that for the past 100 years. When Winter Carnival started, they had international jumping stars in Steamboat Springs, and that was huge. Recreational activities have remained the same. Politics are still there. And women’s rights — at that time, laws prevented women from doing nearly everything. That was worse than it is now. Corina, one of the main characters, is hell-bent on women’s rights so that is a focus of the book.
Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. She can be reached through the editor.
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