Story collection featuring Cranberry Lake wins award
The story collection “The Trail Back Out,” pictured upper left, featuring a title story set in Cranberry Lake has won the San Francisco Book Festival award for general fiction. The author, Jadi Campbell, pictured upper right, has long standing ties to the region. In the bottom photo, the author with her father Bob Campbell on a fishing trip at Cranberry Lake in 1986. Photos submitted.
BY ADAM ATKINSON
North Country This Week
CRANBERRY LAKE — An author with ties to Cranberry Lake has won a prestigious book award for a story collection set in St. Lawrence County’s rural wooded Adirondack region.
Jadi Campbell has lived in Germany since 1992 but her family owned a home on Cranberry Lake for years where she spent a portion of her childhood.
The American writer’s book “The Trail Back Out” recently won the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival award for general fiction. The title story of the book, which is a collection of short story pieces, is set on the back trails of Cranberry Lake.
The story was long listed for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award and the book itself was a 2020 Best Book Award finalist for fiction anthologies, runner-up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, a 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection finalist and was awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon.
The San Francisco Book Festival award was something of a surprise for Campbell.
“The festival doesn’t have a category for short story collections and I figured it didn’t have a chance. I had to submit my book as General Fiction, which meant it was up against novels, romances, mysteries, chick lit, thrillers, and pretty much everyone else,” Campbell told North Country This Week.
Campbell said she felt some disbelief that her collection had taken the prize.
“I stared at my name written after the word WINNER (in capital letters!). I felt great satisfaction and pride that a collection inspired by one of the most beautiful and remote places in the world had won,” she said.
Festival organizers told Campbell that fewer than 5 percent of the books considered ever place in the event. “The Trail Back Out” was chosen from about 600 books.
Campbell still has close ties to the region.
“Even after Dad moved away to be closer to health care facilities, we always drove up and spent at least one night at Cranberry when my sisters or I came to upstate NY for a visit,” she said. “My parents Bob and Sandy Campbell are buried in Cranberry Lake Cemetery. They loved Winslow Homer and had a dozen framed prints of his work. When Dad died, my sisters Pam and Barb and I donated them all to the Wanakena Ranger School. Dad worked for the Forest Service and had gone to school there. We wanted to honor our family’s relationship to the Adirondacks.”
Favorite memories of Cranberry Lake?
“The sound of loons calling through curtains of mist on the lake, the sunsets from the porch of the cabin on Lone Pine Road, and the day I outfished my dad,” the author said.
“We had hiked into the back ponds and were camping, and he loaned me a crap rod to fish with,” said Campbell. “The reel was broken and I had to hand-pull the line. The fish loved it for whatever reason and I caught four trout to his two! As we were hiking back out he said, ‘Jadi, I don’t take other people fishing with me… and no one ever catches more than I do!’”
The author’s time in the Big Woods has influenced how she crafts stories and a desire to spend time in the wilderness.
“You have to know how to be still – no phones, no tv, no chatter – to let the power and beauty of the lake and woods sink in,” she said. “I try to write from a quiet center and need solitude. I married a German man who loves travel, and our trips around the world always include time in Nature. Those summers at Cranberry Lake gave me a lifelong need for wild places.”
Campbell is planning more stories where the North Country region features prominently.
“I’ve started a series of family essays. The best of them so far is Family Myths, about the annual trips we made before my folks bought a residence in the park. We’d drive up from Cazenovia and load everything in the aluminum canoe. This included food, supplies, tents, sleeping bags, and our cat and golden retriever. It was a wonder that we never tipped over. But then again, anything to do with the Adirondacks was always a wonder.”
“The Trail Back Out” is available on Amazon at https://tinyurl.com/44ujdxzt .
For more about Campbell and her writing visit http://jadicampbell.com/ .