Book review/interview with author Shirley Bahlmann

© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, humor, Shirley Bahlmann, The Pioneers A Course in Miracles, pioneer stories, book review, author interview, YourLDSNeighborhood.com)

All right, I heard those groans. You were looking for a little humor and when you read this is a book review and an author interview, you considered clicking elsewhere.

Just wait. Take your finger off that mouse and give this a chance. Shirley Bahlmann is a bubbly, vivacious, LDS author and you'll find an interview with her below the book review.

Talk about a sense of humor ... as Shirley tells her writing class, "I've always got a party going on in my head!"

And she ain't just a kidding!

Book Review of The Pioneers, A Course in Miracles:

“I don’t think I’ll ever know for sure if rolling my little sister up in fencing wire is what nearly killed her. It wasn’t the wire or the rolling up that almost did her in, at least not right away.”

So starts the opening in Shirley Bahlmann’s, The Pioneers, a Course in Miracles. And what an opening! It grabs your attention and pulls you into the story of two bored little girls and their cousins, who start out looking for fun and almost end up with a funeral. This book is another in Shirley’s line of true pioneer stories and is so entertaining and interesting that you will probably find yourself finishing it in one sitting. However, if your reading time is limited, you can zip through one story at a time, in five or ten minute segments, and enjoy the book just as much that way.

The collection of fifteen short stories runs the gamut from true miracles to adventure stories. My two favorites were “Windmill,” the story of the two little girls and the fencing wire, and “Blessed Buffalo,” a heartwarming, tear-jerking story about the rescue of the Willie Handcart Company.

The pioneer tales that Shirley has written contain a wide range of characters that appeal universally across the boundaries of age and gender. They’ll have you laughing one minute and crying the next. As the author, Rachel Nunes, says of Shirley’s books, “My children and I have been fans of Bahlmann’s Odd series for years. We love snuggling together to read entertaining stories based on true pioneer experiences.”

I’ve read a number of Shirley’s books, and have found them not only well written, but heartwarming reading. The Pioneers, a Course in Miracles is destined to become—and remain—one of my favorites.
Interview with LDS author, Shirley Bahlmann:

Cindy: I’m standing here in virtual time, for an interview with author, Shirley Bahlmann, at the famous Days of ’47 parade.

Thanks for joining me, Shirley, on this blistering hot day in Salt Lake City. I know that you love the stories of the pioneers and have written a number of books about them. Therefore, I thought I’d ask a few questions about your books, and then see if we can get a glimpse into the personality that’s Shirley Bahlmann.

Cindy: Why did you choose to write pioneer tales and how many pioneer books have you written?

Shirley: It’s funny, I always thought I was a children’s picture book writer until my sister begged me to be on the committee when she was president of the Sanpete Community Theater. Only later did I find out that everyone on the committee had to chair a fundraising event. So I wrote skits to perform during the Mormon Miracle Pageant, and what better subject than pioneers? When I quit doing skits, I couldn’t stand the thought of those stories lying dormant and forgotten on the empty stage floor, so I wrote them into a book so anyone could read and enjoy them at any time. I have now published seven volumes of true pioneer stories. They portray settlers from long ago just as well as those people out there in the parade tripping over their skirts and scratching their beards, because the pioneers were real people with faults, foibles, and feelings, too.

Cindy: Have you written any other types of books?

Shirley: Sure, everything from picture books to fantasy to an epic thwarted-romance/adventure of over 100,000 words. Oh. Did you mean published books? Those include a woman’s near death experience, two adventure novels, and “Life is Like Riding A Unicycle” which includes not only my adventures of teaching myself to ride on one wheel at the ripe old age of 47, but also tells other oldie-but-goodie people’s stories of following their dreams regardless of age. Oh, yeah. And I have a self-published chicken book. You can even roll your own chicken. That one’s called, “When the chicken crossed the road.” People who know the story always smile when they talk about it. They should. It’s really funny. Hey, why aren’t there any chickens in the parade?

Cindy: What’s your favorite short story in your latest book, The Pioneers, A Course in Miracles, and why is it a favorite?

Shirley: I really like the one where the dad who’s on a church mission finds a warm loaf of bread that came from his wife’s kitchen hundreds of miles away. I’d heard rumors of that story before I met a descendant who gave me the low-down, as well as a photo of the old family homestead. I got chills when I spoke to her, and felt really good about the boost of faith that this miraculous story could give to readers.

Cindy: The Days of ’47 Parade is half over. Describe for us, please, what we’re looking at right now, and tell us your favorite part of the parade.

Shirley: Oh, look! Chickens! Hurry! Grab the loose feathers! Come on, get them before they blow away! We can make matching feather boas! You’re not hurrying… hurry… they’re getting away! Humpf. The chickens are gone, Cindy, and you don’t have enough feathers for a whole entire boa. You’ll just have to pin those in your hair, you know. You need to take feather picking lessons, girl. I like the funny parade parts. And the American flag part. And the time my father-in-law drove a WWII jeep because that was the most beautiful thing he saw rolling into Rotterdam, Holland, to free his native Holland from the Germans.

Cindy: I see that you’re wearing cowgirl boots, a safari print dress, glow in the dark earrings and you’re carrying an eggbeater. What’s the eggbeater for?

Shirley: Whipped cream. You can never have too much whipped cream. You forgot to mention my banana net that I’m going to use to catch a banana when they throw them out to the crowds. There is too a banana float. Haven’t you been watching the parade? You brought the ice cream, right?

Cindy: Oops, look out! You almost stepped in something. What is that?

Shirley: Oh, sure, change the subject. You still owe me ice cream. And that leggy thing on the ground, dear Cindy, is an evil spider that wants to crawl up your leg and nest in the hollow of your knee. Do you want me to aim better this time when I put my foot down?

Cindy: I’ve noticed there’s a certain smell in the air. Is that your perfume, and if so, what’s it called? If not, what is it that we smell?

Shirley: If you must know, I have it on good authority that my perfume smells like snowmobile fuel. Stop laughing. This is a true story. A boy at high school told me last year, and he’s an avid snowmobiler. Who am I to argue? I’ve never been on a snowmobile in my life. But… (sniff, sniff…) do you know what? It could be that “Nephite Delight” perfume that my boys and I joke about every time we smell a skunk. We made up a whole story to go along with it, but I didn’t write it down. Ow! Quit slapping my hand or I’ll blend your feathers with my eggbeater!

Cindy: Well, it’s about time to wrap this up and go get a frosty mug of sarsaparilla soda. One more question, though ...

Shirley: Make mine with ice. And I get the big glass, because I’m bigger than you. Uh-huh… uh-huh… uh-huh… oh, is that [your husband] Russ who told us to quit arguing? No, it’s the commentator. They were picking our voices up on their main microphone. So keep it down, willya? Sheesh. Behave yourself.

Cindy: Last year you were learning to ride a unicycle and wrote a book about it called, Life is Like Riding a Unicycle. What was the most interesting incident during your attempts to ride it?

Shirley: Well, it could have been when my 7-year-old asked me what was wrong with my legs because they were all polka-dotted with bruises, but personally I think it was when I desperately wanted to let go and ride, so I sent silent prayer heavenward that if my deceased father was not too busy, perhaps he could give me a push. That’s the first time I landed flat on my back with all the air knocked out of me. As I lay alone and unmoving on the cement basketball court in the darkening evening, I murmured, “Dad, you didn’t have to push so hard.”

Cindy: Thank you for your time, Shirley, and for allowing me to interview you. It’s been fun. Visiting with you is always a treat because you have a great imagination and the ability to help others see the world around you in a unique way. Thanks so much for writing The Pioneers, A Course in Miracles. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and heartily recommend it to others.

Shirley: Thanks, Cindy. Well, looky, there goes the last horse’s tail swishing down the road. What say we go get that ice cream now? We’ll let Russ pay.

You can order Shirley Bahlmann’s book online at Amazon.com or by visiting her website at http://www.shirleybahlmann.com/.

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Rebecca Talley said...

Love this. Shirley is so funny!

Cindy Beck, author said...

Yes, Shirley is a lot of fun ... there's something always happening when she's around!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Anna Maria Junus said...

What a great interview!

Perhaps you can make a feather tiara.

Nichole Giles said...

Sounds like you two had a good time at the parade. How was the ice cream?

Shirley's newest book sounds like a great one. I can't wait to read it.


PS If you're wanting more feathers to finish that boa, I think I know where we can get some. Heather Justesen keeps chickens AND ducks...

Rachelle Christensen said...

I think it's so neat they've got you featured on yourldsneighborhood.com still! You are awesome.

Cindy Beck, author said...

Anna Maria,
A feather tiara ... that's a great idea. Something to make us look "queenly!" :)

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Cindy Beck, author said...

Ooo, duck feathers would work. Then Shirley and I could claim a relationship to Daffy Duck! :)

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Cindy Beck, author said...

Aw shucks (blush)... you're too nice, saying such kind things!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.