A story of real life in a rural town.

Hiram Falls — The novel stretches from 1918 to 1974 and paints a portrait of an evolving fictitious Vermont town in which people’s secrets, despite their best efforts to keep them hidden, inevitably come to light. Some should be discovered. Others should not. Within the confines of everyday rural life, the novel explores the space between knowing and not knowing, of the weight of family legacy and of the search for answers often to questions that are not yet known.

The book tells the intersecting stories of 11 primary characters:

  • an auto mechanic (Ben) whose brain is damaged in an accident and while he remains a savant with motors, he often can’t remember what he just said;

  • his wife (Vera) who is trying to find the love lost when her husband so utterly changed and became like the child she never could have;

  • a banker (Ephram) with a corrupt sideline and his son (Millard) who, upon his father’s death, learns of the schemes and is forced to keep them going;

  • another father (Earl) and son (Junior) who are hired by the bankers for their ability to menace and set fires;

  • two journalists (Grace and David) who find and reveal the bankers’ hidden schemes but don’t seem able to resolve the hidden feelings they have for each other;

  • a woman (Lavender) with lavender hair, a strong will and a dark secret she seeks to protect at all costs;

  • a woman (Rina) who learns her true identity and thus the answers as to why she has felt so separate and different all her life; and

  • a spirit (The Man) — a ghost, an indigenous “ancestor” — who learns to read, communicates with animals and eventually connects with the mechanic who helps him find his identity and the answer as to why he is still in this world.

The book can be best described as Plainsong (Kent Haruf) meets A Winter’s Tale (Mark Helprin) meets Mink River (Brian Doyle) meets Music in the Dark (Sally Magnusson); Hiram Falls is a story of empathy and intolerance, of history and magic, of anthropomorphism and rural humor, of fragile memories of trauma, all told in an omniscient point of view.

This book has been five years in the making. I have been blessed with a support team of brilliant writers, artists and editors — as well as Abenaki elders and a therapist with a PhD in working with people with damaged brains — who’ve given me feedback, knowledge and encouragement. Several professional editors helped me bring it home.

My intention has been to self-publish this work in a variety of forms: Text and audio here in serialized form; a podcast; a radio serial; an ebook and a paperback. I still may do so.

However, the professional editor who I am working with insists that I get an agent and try to sell it to a publishing house. “It is that good,” she says. I am honored. So I’ll give it a go. For six months. Failing that, I will publish as planned, here and elsewhere.

A Journal will fill the gap between, a series on the process I have developed for creating and completing this book. It will be in narrative form so I believe it will be of interest to both writers and non-writers.

And all of you will benefit from having deep background when the book comes out.

Regardless of how I publish this work, my intention is to give my proceeds to three organizations I value and have been both a part of my life and part of this creation. If you want, you can just make a DONATION here and I will make the donation to the organization.

OR you can donate to them directly:

  • Vermont Stage Company. This powerful, high-quality nonprofit theater company has staged six sketches of characters from this book. Its executive director will be producing and directing the audio book version.

  • The Media Factory. This Vermont nonprofit provides Vermonters with tools and advice and access to audio-visual equipment and public access to the airwaves — radio and TV. They will be providing a recording studio and sound engineering for the audio book to ensure it is of podcast and broadcast quality. It will be broadcasting Hiram Falls installments on its Burlington radio station (99.3 WBTV-LP) as well as cable stations.

  • The Young Writers Project. I founded this organization in 2006 with a grant from the Vermont Business Roundtable. Each year it encourages, publishes and offers guidance to young writers all over the world.

If you do donate (and only give what you can afford) let me know (honor system) I’ll also give you early access to the ebook.

So why subscribe now?

Because the novel is going to be damned good and you will enjoy the snippets I will be publishing. I know. I know. That’s what they all say. And who the heck wants to subscribe to a first novel by an old fart from Vermont? (I ask myself the same thing.)

Because my Writing Journal will give you some tips on writing and help you in your own creative endeavors.

And, well, because the stories of six of the characters that have been presented on stage to live audiences have brought rave reviews. People loved them.

So, there you go. And I thank you for signing up.


Who is Geoffrey Gevalt?

I was a journalist for 33 years. Then I started and ran for 12 years The Young Writers Project, a nonprofit dedicated to helping kids write better and teachers teach writing better. I’m doing a life dream: Writing a novel.

The germ of this novel began more than 20 years ago. But I’ll tell you about that later. I’ve been working in earnest since August 2019.

The book is the capstone of my career. I am a storyteller. I do it with words and photographs and sound and combinations thereof; big projects and small stories. I love to talk to people, to learn about them. I am curious. I am digitally inclined: I led the startup of the 13th news website (think about that) in 1995, edited the first syndicated column about the Internet, built hundreds of web sites for teachers and students to use in schools to help students learn to write better. I love the outdoors and have explored places unseen by man. I am always looking for stories, even though I have plenty already.

I grew up in a tiny town in the mountains where everyone knew everything about everybody. It is that experience that serves as the foundation to Hiram Falls.

Never underestimate the value of a beard. This photo was taken a while ago by our then high school intern, Cecilia Giordano, a peach of a person.

My time as a professional journalist was mostly with newspapers (remember them?) where I learned from some of the nation's best. My journalistic travels began in Maine (Lewiston Daily Sun and Portland Press Herald) with later stops in New York City (Institutional Investor Magazine), Baltimore (Associated Press), Boston (Boston Business Journal & Quincy Patriot Ledger), Akron (Beacon Journal) and finally Burlington, VT, (Burlington Free Press).

I am lucky. We won lots of regional and national awards, including the George F. Polk Award for investigative journalism. We changed some laws, brought some joy to people’s lives and put some crooks into prison, too. It was fun. And it saddens me every single day that newspapers — and professional media outlets for that matter — have become so inconsequential and so maligned. Support them. Subscribe to them. We must keep them alive.

At my last newspaper job — The Free Press in northern Vermont — I grew concerned that so many kids in school were learning how to hate writing. So, with a group of exceptional writing teachers, we started a weekly feature designed to highlight interesting student writing and to showcase different – and better – ways to teach writing.

In 2006, with a founding grant from the Vermont Business Roundtable, I left journalism and transformed the newspaper feature into an organization: Young Writers Project, a web-centric, nonprofit that helps young people find their voice and confidence, and, oh yes, improve their writing. It is still a site with a one-word rule for behavior: Respect. The web site and organization I built is still running strong.

As part of that project I led workshops and teacher trainings in 200 schools, including several inner-city schools in Newark, NJ; trained thousands of teachers to engage students more deeply in writing particularly in digital spaces; and taught 250 teachers in a Master's credit course. In the process, I also built upwards of 400 sites used by teachers in the classroom. They were unique. Ahead of the curve.

In May 2019, I stepped away fully from Young Writers Project to work on my own projects before my brain turned to Swiss cheese. Here’s what I’m doing in addition to the novel:

  • Whenever there is great light, I chase around for pictures and had started a project called I Love My Work, a series of digital stories showcasing people devoted to their work.

  • To keep my hand in building affirming creative communities online, I have spent the last four years guiding writers from all over for weekly (three years) and then monthly (one year) sessions.

  • I have been teaching workshops on Digital Storytelling and recently began a monthly series of writing workshops for local libraries.

  • I write a column on Digital Writing for Medium which you can access here if you have an account: https://medium.com/tag/a-digital-writer

And, I enjoy myself.

Subscribe to Hiram Falls -- The Novel

The story of a small rural town with secrets; some are discovered; some shouldn't be. A bonus: A journal of my process in writing the novel, once it is published.

People

Writer, award-winning journalist, photographer. Serialized novel, Hiram Falls, to be published for free as text and podcast in Fall 2024. A journal on the process and other goodies to start then, too.