Pocatello native Stella J. Raasch has served her country in the United States Air Force, studied psychology and human development, and has been a nurse, a business owner and a nutritional health coach for dogs. Now, she can add “author” to her list of accomplishments with the recent debut of her first book: “18th Winter.”
The young adult novel is a fantasy that incorporates a legend of the coming together of the Bannock and Shoshone tribes in the 1800s. Set in the area of Sun Valley, Idaho, the story centers around the main character, Collette, and the curse placed on her family’s tribe: the Cyokiana. Romance is intertwined in the tale as Collette becomes involved with attractive outdoorsman Bryce Chatterton who helps her as as she seeks to learn her family’s truth.
Raasch graduated from Highland High School in 1996. She spent her childhood enjoying Idaho’s great outdoors in places like Stanley, Sun Valley and Island Park. She wanted to write a young adult novel based around the mountains, lakes and wildlife that she experienced with a strong female character as a positive role model for girls. Inspirations for the book came from her time spent outdoors in Idaho and in her current home state of Colorado.
“My character Collette and I share a lot of the same qualities. We are strong, independent and hardworking. We love animals and nature; we are passionate and inquisitive about the world around us,” she said. “I love the young adult genre. They are hungry readers and their minds are impressionable.”
Writing “18th Winter” was not easy and required a great amount of time, research and perseverance. It took Raasch more than five years (and 12 drafts) to complete the 428-page book. At times, she felt like giving up; however, watching the movie “Before Disney” about the life of Walt Disney, motivated her to keep going.
“He (Disney) invested everything. He was broke and homeless. He never gave up. It just took that one big break,” Raasch said. “Watching this movie truly moved me to keep going and get it done.”
Raasch published the book through Amazon, currently the country’s largest publishing company.
While “18th Winter” was written with young adult readers in mind, Raash is finding that older adults are enjoying the book just as much. Raasch hopes that her book will inspire readers of all ages to take a closer look at the world around them.
“I hope that by reading the descriptions expressed through Collette that people will get out and embrace the outdoors by trying snowshoeing, hiking and biking,” she said. “I hope people will look at nature and the treatment of animals with a fresh eye.”
Raasch currently lives in Aurora, Colorado, with her husband, Larry, and their dogs. She is planning to write a sequel to “18th Winter.” If the books do well, her ultimate goal is to start a scholarship fund for single parents or older students to go to college.
Raasch has donated copies “18th Winter” to Pocatello’s Marshall Public Library and it is available for purchase on Amazon in paperback or digital format.