The Ghost Town Preservation Society A Novel

ByJulie Clark Simon


Does the past really matter? Fleeing a failed marriage and a failed profession, a woman decides a Montana ghost town holds the key to the mystery of her birth.

AJ Armstrong is a college professor “on the dangerous side of forty.” She likes frontier history and has an eye for fools and irony—herself included. Wanting a change, she packs her vintage Bel Air and heads to Montana to solve a long troubling mystery: Who was her mother, and why did she abandon her?

The search lands AJ in Misfire, a colorful town with odd characters and old secrets. Roped into a job with the town’s weekly newspaper, AJ quickly makes eccentric new friends and a powerful enemy. Meanwhile, her personal search is turned upside-down by the unexpected arrival of her adoptive parents—who were always one step ahead of the law—and her cheating ex-husband.

AJ is warned to “leave the past alone.” But digging through history is what AJ does best, and she is determined to find out who she is—or was. As lives intersect and mysteries mount, the long abandoned mining town where AJ was born at last gives up its ghosts.

This manuscript won the Utah Original Writing Competition. It has sharp humor, distinctive characters, and a satisfying conclusion. The author directed the Writing Center at Southern Utah University and is an award-winning reporter.


Format: Trade Paperback
Size: 6 x 9 inches
ISBN: 978-1-60639-097-9
Author: Julie Clark Simon
Pages: 444

After earning her undergraduate journalism degree from the University of North Dakota, Montana native Julie Clark Simon worked for newspapers in Minnesota, Montana and Utah, winning several awards for her feature stories and news writing. During her years as an editor for the Logan (Utah) Herald Journal, Simon completed her master’s degree by virtue of taking two Utah State University evening courses per quarter. Following a subsequent stint teaching composition at Southern Utah University, Simon and her husband, Duane, attempted a return to Montana. However, a winter spent washing dishes in the Bozeman food co-op convinced Simon that grading stacks and stacks of freshman essays every evening wasn’t the worst way to earn a living. She returned to SUU as the English Department’s director of composition. One long leave and a PhD later, she became director of the Writing Center as she continued to teach writing, grammar, and literary theory courses. After winning the state of Utah’s Original Writing Competition for the manuscript of The Ghost Town Preservation Society, Simon decided to fulfill a long-held ambition to write full-time. In between trips to Montana, She continues to live in Utah.

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