Aspen writer Lori Gurtman releases debut novel | AspenTimes.com

Aspen writer Lori Gurtman releases debut novel

Aspenite Lori Gurtman's new novel, "Lost and Found in Aspen," will be released Tuesday with a book launch and reception at Explore Booksellers.

The book, Gurtman's first, opens with young Hope Martin arriving in Aspen in 1996 to teach at Anderson Ranch Arts Center. She falls in love with the town and with her future husband. The narrative soon jumps forward to the couple's settled-down family life in the Massachusetts suburbs, where a tragic car accident sends Hope back to Aspen on a journey of self-discovery.

Gurtman, with her husband and two young children, moved to Aspen from suburban New Jersey eight years ago.

"We moved here on a whim," she said. "We started over and haven't looked back."

A few years later, she and a friend started the blog highonaspen.com — a lifestyle site aimed at tourists from a local's perspective and billed as "an insider's guide on where to eat, sleep, shop, spa and play outdoors in Aspen, Colorado."

The site didn't last, but writing posts for it stoked Gurtman's creative fires.

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"It jump-started the writing for me and got me into this writing practice," she said.

Gurtman began mulling ideas for fiction and conceived the idea for "Lost and Found in Aspen" with her friend Nicole Nagel-Gogolak, whose artwork graces the cover of the new book.

"We came up with this idea for this chick lit book — to just write it and see what would happen," Gurtman recalled.

She spent about two years writing and revising the manuscript, finished it this summer and placed it with Post Hill Press, an independent publisher distributed by Simon and Schuster.

"This all happened very quickly," Gurtman said.

The fast-paced publication schedule got the book out in time for the 2017-18 ski season but also resulted in some typographical errors in the text, including one on the back cover of the book.

If "Lost and Found in Aspen" finds a readership, Gurtman hopes to write a sequel to the novel.

"There's room for a trilogy, I think," she said.

But first, she is publishing a collection of 90 poems about marijuana (her husband, Michael Gurtman, owns the Best Day Ever pot shop downtown).

Some of "Lost and Found in Aspen" is autobiographical or based on friends' experiences here. But most of the book is a work of fiction, Gurtman said.

She aimed for the narrative to be funny and heartwarming, true to the local's life in Aspen but also wanted to touch on universal experiences that extend beyond the roundabout.

"There's also this underlying theme in the book about women who give up their careers for their families, but find there is a missing piece of you when you're a stay-at-home mom," Gurtman said.

Much of the book is a celebration of Aspen, with scenes on local ski hills and trails and in local spots like The Red Onion, Shlomo's, Boogie's, Pitkin County Dry Goods and Anderson Ranch.

"It's also for people who don't live in Aspen, people who want to know what it's like to live here full time and what the locals are like," Gurtman said. "People are fascinated by that. When my husband and I decided to move to Aspen on a whim, people were shocked that we would move here. They said, 'Why don't you just go on vacation?'"

atravers@aspentimes.com

IF YOU GO …

What: Book launch and reception for Lori Gurtman’s ‘Lost and Found in Aspen’

Where: Explore Booksellers

When: Tuesday, Nov. 28, 5:30 p.m.

More info: http://www.explorebooksellers.com

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