Local author self-publishes book exploring quirky Vermont

SAXTONS RIVER, Vt. – Local writer and Saxtons River resident, Robert Wilson, a former editor for renowned book publishers Macmillan, and Hill, Houghton Mifflin, and a former promotional writer for Reader’s Digest, recently published his third Vermont-based travel book titled “Vermont… Who Knew?”

After living in various locations around the country including South Carolina, California, Seattle and more recently New Haven, Conn., Wilson and his wife, Martha, moved to southern Vermont some 20-plus years ago after discovering the area during a cross country ski trip.

“After ten years in New Haven, my wife and I decided to get back to small-town living,” Wilson said in a recent interview. “We sampled towns in several states but were drawn to Vermont because of the friends we made here during that time. With no opportunity for at least four generations ‘in the ground,’ we know we’ll always be Flatlanders. My wife, born in Alaska, at least has a face-saving comeback. We’re now in our 22nd year in Saxtons River and likely here for the long haul.”

Saxtons River author Robert Wilson
Saxtons River author Robert Wilson. Photo provided

Having spent many years working in publishing houses in New York City, Wilson wrote 10 “career-building” books before choosing to write about Vermont life. His first two Vermont-themed books are titled “Vermont Curiosities” and “Vermont: Off The Beaten Path.” The latter book is in its eighth edition, while “Vermont… Who Knew” is now in its second printing.

“My first Vermont book came about while listening to a New Hampshire Public Radio show called ‘The Front Porch,’ which included a book review for ‘New Hampshire Curiosities,’ part of a state series. After the second book, I decided to self-publish ‘Vermont… Who Knew?’ and utilize my 20 years in the publishing industry to help lighten the load.”

With a foreword written by Sen. Bernie Sanders and introduction penned by former Vermont Life editor Tom Slayton, the book features a collection of over 100 profiles, essays, and anecdotes as well as 85 color photos and maps, highlighting Vermont’s unique characters, hometown heroes, and special aspects of the Green Mountain State. The cover, featuring classic Vermont foliage, was chosen with the help of his daughter and a vote from Facebook subscribers.

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“Vermont…Who Knew?” by Robert Wilson. Photo provided

The author certainly did his homework by first collecting stories from friends and acquaintances throughout Saxtons River and Windham County before stretching his research and search for additional anecdotes throughout the state. Additionally, most of the stories told in the book also include links to various YouTube videos to provide additional insight and creating a unique, multimedia experience. The stories and interviews featured in “Vermont… Who Knew?” are far-ranging in topic and cover the entire state.

“The 125 or so profiles, essays and anecdotes encompass a selection of the most unique people, places, and events – both past and present – the Green Mountain State has to offer. Roughly 70% of the book’s entries are followed by references to one or more short YouTube videos, providing additional sight-and-sound coverage based on the topics that inspired them. No URLs are necessary, as videos are easily accessed with a single click after the few-word citation title is typed into the YouTube search box.”

Another feature of the book, for families with time constraints, a single back-of-the-book appendix serves as a two-dimensional global positioning system. Locations for many of the book’s entries are on – or close to – four well-traveled Vermont roads: two east-west and two north-south roads. Based on preference, this offers an opportunity to easily organize a range of one-to-10-day itineraries.

Moving forward, Wilson’s next book will be of the children’s variety, a story based on a mile-plus walk to school with his California granddaughter a few years ago. “She was a first-grader and so eager to show me her friends and activities along the way – in considerable detail – that she was late for school.” Wilson explained. “This was a first, and she was too embarrassed to accept responsibility, so I took the fall. I’m also working on travel articles based on trips to various countries.”

Visit the author at www.robertfwilson.net.

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