SALT LAKE CITY — Camron Wright, the Utah author of the best-sellers "The Rent Collector" and "The Orphan Keeper," is coming out with something a little different this month. "The Other Side of the Bridge" isn't based on a true story and it takes place right in the United States — it centers, in fact, on the Golden Gate Bridge.
"The Other Side of the Bridge" tells the story of two people on opposite sides of the country, who both look for answers in this iconic landmark.
Katie Connelly is a historian at San Francisco State University, whose father worked on the Golden Gate Bridge his whole life as an ironworker. She becomes obsessed with a historical journal she found in his desk, written by a man who helped build the bridge decades earlier.
Dave Riley is living a busy life in New Jersey with a wife and three kids and has a high-powered marketing job in Manhattan, but when tragedy strikes he finds solace in renewing his dream to ride a motorcycle across the Golden Gate Bridge on the Fourth of July.
Wright talked recently with the Deseret News about his new book, how it differs from his previous works and about his upcoming event at the Sandy Library.
This interview has been edited for content and clarity.
Deseret News: What inspired you to write "The Other Side of the Bridge"?
Camron Wright: I had a friend years ago when I was a teenager, and he thought that the day he could ride his motorcycle across the Golden Gate Bridge would be the coolest day of his life. I loved that vision. He thought it would be sunny and …(that people would) think he was just the coolest person ever. Then he talked about how when he got there it was actually rainy and miserable and he had a personal tragedy occur and it just wasn't the experience that he had set up in his mind. I filed that away and thought, "I'm going to use that someday."
I remember also reading an article about the ironworkers on the Golden Gate Bridge and how they're the ones who talk down jumpers because they're already there and there's no time for the policemen to come. Not only that, they're not afraid to go out onto the structure to try and help these people. The image of a big, burly ironworker who then has to now be a social worker, if you will — I thought that was cool and I filed it away. It was just a matter of taking these separate experiences and weaving them together into the story.
DN: What was your writing process like for this book?
CW: The thing that's interesting about this book is I actually wrote the first draft of it … in 2002. I sent it to Shadow Mountain and they rejected it. The whole Harley Davidson thing bothered them. They said, "The majority of our readers are women and we just don't think this story will work." So I just set the story aside and I went on to do other things.
Then I got a call recently from Shadow Mountain, and they had a slot open in their catalog they needed to fill right away and they asked if I had anything. I said, "You know what, I actually do." I didn't tell them they'd actually rejected it years earlier … Within just a couple of days, I got a call and they were giddy. They said, "This is exactly the type of book we're looking for" — which is ironic. It just goes to show in life timing is often everything.
DN: What should readers look forward to in this book?
CW: "The Rent Collecter" and "The Orphan Keeper" are a bit more layered metaphorically. There are some deeper meanings there. "The Other Side of the Bridge," the intent wasn't really to be that same type of work. I think it's an interesting story with insights into two people and insights into life. … I hope people enjoy it. I want them to keep turning the pages. I hope in the end they walk away and they feel good about the story. I hope they take lessons away from it.
DN: What books are you planning on for the future?
CW: I'm starting another book right now that I'm excited about. It's very early on, but it's the story of a woman who served over in Iraq. It'll be like "The Rent Collector" — half and half. Her story will be true, but I'm going to bring in some family history. She had a grandfather who served in World War II, so I'm going to tie him in. Sadly, we don't know a lot about what he did, so a lot of his story as it ties in will be fictional.
DN: What should people expect from your upcoming event in Sandy? We know you'll have Taj Rowland with you ("The Orphan Keeper" is based on Rowland's story).
CW: Taj doesn't like to do these events, so he does very few of them, and so this is one event where he will be at. I think "The Orphan Keeper" will be the main focus of this event, but naturally because the book is just out, I'll touch on "The Other Side of the Bridge" as well. We'll have a presentation and a behind-the-scenes, and it should be very informative for readers.
If you go …
What: Camron Wright book signing
When: Tuesday, March 20, 7 p.m.
Where: Sandy Library, 10100 S. Petunia Way, Sandy