Life is often compared to a book — close one chapter, begin another. The same is true for author Jess Lourey, whose story contains chapters in Battle Lake and Fergus Falls.
When Lourey’s father got out of the military in 1970, her family moved to St. Cloud, where her most recent title, “The Quarry Girls: A Thriller,” is set. In 1989, Lourey ended up moving to Battle Lake after visiting with a friend. “I realized I never wanted to leave,” Lourey shared. “I loved the people, the geography, the food at Stub’s.”
The next few years saw Lourey living between Battle Lake and Fergus Falls, bartending and waiting tables at Mabel Murphy’s while taking classes at the former Fergus Falls Community College (now M State). Lourey returned to St. Cloud to work on undergrad and her Master’s degree before returning to Battle Lake in 1996.
Lourey’s story, when it comes to authorship, began much earlier than her time in Otter Tail County, though. At the age of 6, she penned her first haiku. After her first attempt at publishing failed, something Lourey is grateful for, in hindsight, she earned a second Master’s degree. With English and sociology degrees under her belt, and a job teaching at Alexandria Technical and Community College, Lourey dove back into her writing.
“I couldn’t stop thinking of book ideas, scribbling down sparks of description or snatches of conversation that I overheard and would love to work into a story, feeling lazy and envious when I read a fantastic novel,” she expressed.
After experiencing a traumatic life event, Lourey was reminded of the true power of writing and started writing the first novel in her “Murder-by-Month” mysteries for adults, titled “MAY DAY.” A complete explanation of the story is available in Lourey’s TEDx Talk: youtube.com/watch?v=a5vSLh3oPXI&t=2s.
Back to the present: “The Quarry Girls.” Released Nov. 1 by Thomas & Mercer, the title follows two girls, Heather and Brenda, who have seen too much in the disappearance of St. Cloud teenagers.
The novel rocketed to an Amazon No. 1 Best Seller quickly; an honor that hasn’t evaded Lourey. According to her biography, Lourey is “the Amazon Charts bestselling Edgar, Agatha, and Lefty-nominated, ITW Thriller award and Anthony award-winning author of nonfiction, children’s books, YA adventure, magical realism and crime fiction.”
Accolades don’t come easily for writers, though, as Lourey is quick to point out. “I’ve written two books a year since 2006, and I write whatever story idea captures my mind at the time, regardless of genre. As of today, I’m at over 400 rejections, twenty-one novels, and one nonfiction book. Most people would have given up a while ago with those odds, and there is a word for those type of people: sensible. The rest of us, we’re called writers.”
Lourey will be joined by fellow Minnesota author, Sarah Stonich, in a three-day tour of author events in the area.
In 2021, Stonich released the second book in a series following protagonist, RayAnne, who finds herself as the host of an all-women fishing show. The first title, “Fishing!: A Novel,” published in 2020, with “Reeling: A Novel” coming the following year.
Lourey and Stonich will begin their tour on Dec. 8 with a 5:30 p.m. book signing at Willow Books in Perham.
On Dec. 9, the duo will conduct book signings at Lionseed Bookstore & Learning Commons in Battle Lake at 12 p.m., and at Victor Lundeen Co. in Fergus Falls at 4:30 p.m.
A final book signing will occur on Dec. 10, at Cherry Street Books in Alexandria at 12 p.m.; however, two presentations are also scheduled for Saturday: 10 a.m. at Douglas County Library in Alexandria, and 3 p.m. at the Fergus Falls Public Library.
”So looking forward to getting back to my great Minnesota roots,” shared Lourey of the upcoming events.
More information about Lourey and Stonich can be located on their perspective websites: jessicalourey.com, sarahstonich.com.