Award-winning Farmington author Bill Roorbach, in two presentations in Augusta Wednesday, plans to discuss how elements of his own life helped shape his “Life Among Giants,” a novel that is now under development as a multi-year series on cable television’s HBO.

“Life Among Giants,” this year’s A Capital Read Augusta-area group-read book, follows a young man’s quest to unravel the mystery surrounding his parents’ deaths, touching along the way on topics including football, ballet, cooking and restaurants, mushroom collecting and mental illness.

Roorbach, in an interview Friday, said he has been engaged in all those things in various ways, from working in restaurants to hunting for mushrooms, and has had close friendships with dancers, athletes and people with mental illnesses.

He said he plans to talk about how his own life experiences influenced the book, its development as a potential TV series, and his other works Wednesday in Augusta. He’ll discuss “Life Among Giants” in an informal book group at Lithgow Public Library at noon and give a presentation and book-signing at Viles Arboretum at 7 that night.

He said he relishes discussing his books with readers and even, sometimes, learns things from them about his own work.

“It’s a wonderful thing for a writer to hear from people who’ve closely read a book,” he said. “I often hear ideas that hadn’t occurred to me and that help me understand my own work better.”

Roorbach said while his own life experiences were “a start” in informing his writing in “Life Among Giants,” the level of detail he goes into in the book also required an extensive amount of research, including lots of reading and immersing himself in the topics.

“The secret is learning the details, the specialized stuff that only those in the know have language for,” he said. “You want to convince the experts along with everyone else that the story they’re reading is real.”

Roorbach also plans to talk about how the book, which won the 2013 Maine Literary Award for fiction, continues to be developed as a multi-year series for HBO.

“I am currently at work with two production companies, an experienced TV co-writer and HBO itself on the pilot script,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun bringing my characters into a new medium, something I’ll talk about next week (in Augusta).”

Roorbach lives in Farmington with his wife, Juliet Karelsen, who is a painter, and their 14-year-old daughter Elysia, who he said loves to act and dance and has been a finalist three times for the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance youth fiction award. Roorbach grew up in Connecticut and first came to Maine in 1991 to teach at the University of Maine at Farmington.

Down East Books recently reiussed his book “Temple Stream,” which he said is about a stream that runs behind his Farmington home and is a deep look at Maine, nature and our world.

“I’m deeply influenced by nature, and I love nothing more than being out in the Maine woods, just seeing what I can see,” he said. “It’s both an inspiration and sustenance, and I don’t think I could write without it.”

Augusta’s Lithgow Library staff have helped organize A Capital Read for the last few years. Multiple events related to the book were also held, including presentations on high school football in Maine and mushroom collecting.

“It’s our way of trying to unite the community around one book,” said Elizabeth Pohl, library director. “We like to introduce the community to quality authors they may not be aware of. The fact that Bill Roorbach is a Maine writer and really on the verge of breaking out made ‘Life Among Giants’ even more appealing. His book is fantastic.”

The events at Lithgow and Viles Arboretum were originally scheduled for Oct. 23 but had to be rescheduled so Roorbach could attend Kirkus Prize festivities in Texas because his new book, “The Remedy For Love,” was one of five finalists out of more than 300 nominees. If he’d won, it would have come with a $50,000 prize. Roorbach said he was surprised and proud to be named a finalist and joked, “The prize ceremony in Austin was really fun and exciting, like the Oscars for badly dressed people.”

Pohl said free copies of the book are still available for those who want to participate in the group read at Lithgow, Viles Arboretum and at Bangor Savings Bank, a sponsor of the program.

Roorbach said “Life Among Giants” and “The Remedy For Love” are books “with very different approaches, and yet they are both all me.” He said he’s found people who like one also seem to like the other.

Roorbach, who is in Maine on a brief break from traveling around the country promoting “Remedy For Love,” said he writes whenever he can, at least a little every day, sometimes a lot, grabbing time on airplanes or while waiting for his daughter at ballet and late at night.

His advice for aspiring writers: “Write every day, read every day, and never quit!”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.