'Vermont Wild' author comes to Dover for dessert

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DOVER >> Author Megan Price is always on the prowl for more tales to add to her "Vermont Wild" series.

"These are all true, funny stories from retired game wardens," she said. "Many of the libraries have some of the books and they see people from all ages and all walks of life taking them out."

"Retired" is the operative word in talking of Price's books.

One reason has to do with keeping the storytellers out of trouble. Another involves the possibility of being teased by co-workers. And there's the nothing-to-lose factor.

"If you're out of the game, you can be more honest," Price said. "Also, the other reason is that you have more perspective. You can step back and go, 'Oh my god. We almost got killed. But that was funny.'"

Price will be the guest speaker at the Dover Free Library's Dessert Social Fundraiser happening at Dover Town Hall on Aug. 11 at 7 p.m.

Altogether, Price has written three volumes of "Vermont Wild" and one "Maine Wild" book. She is an award-winning reporter and former state legislator. She also worked as a corporate paralegal, publicist, advocate and marketing consultant.

Born and raised in Rutland County, Price spent a lot of time outdoors. Later in life, she participated in a program called Becoming an Outdoors Woman. It is offered in other states, too.

There, Price met Eric Nuse. He had been a gamewarden up north who was then running the program.

Being "short and fat," Price said she worried she would not be able to enjoy all the activities. Offered were archery, shooting, tracking, and kayak and canoe rides. Price and her friend ended up having no complaints.

"Everyone had a terrific time," said Price. "We thought this was great. You don't need to have your husband teach or someone telling you, 'You'll never get it right.'"

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A survey handed out after the program asked for improvements. Price filled up about 18 pages.

Nuse ended up getting a hold of Price. He asked if she wanted to run the program and she did so for three years.

Nuse shared stories fireside at night. Campers particularly loved the one about blowing up a dead moose with dynamite.

"Then I had crazy stories. I lived in the woods and I've done some crazy things," said Price. "I would try to build a cabin by myself."

The two parted ways for about a decade. Then Nuse showed up on Price's doorstep one day out of the blue.

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"I was getting over being sick and he asked if I thought about writing a book. I didn't think I could do it. Then he asked me to write his stories. They'd be like a paragraph. I said, 'Eric (Nuse), that's not a story.' He said, 'Why don't you fix it?' It took a long time to put out the first book," Price said. "I found an illustrator and I would put it aside for a few months or years. But I just kept working at it."

She considers the stories "real Vermont history," some being from as long as 40 or 50 years ago. And she attributes the wildlife the state has to the game wardens she interviewed for the books.

The inherent danger of the job is shown through her books. One game warden went off a cliff while riding a snowmobile and Nuse was nearly killed during an encounter in a beaver pond.

"They live like normal people among us. They're wonderful guys. They just don't want to work behind a desk and don't want to be told what to do. My kind of guys," said Price. "If you drop the big one, you want to be near these guys. Because they will get you through it."

The stories are written in first person so the reader feels like the game wardens are directly sharing their stories. Short asides show the character of the game wardens. Each book features 14 or more stories.

Descriptions of poachers are modified. Price said she does not want to give them credit for any of the stories.

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"The characters are composites — bits and pieces of many individuals," she wrote in the beginning of the 2011 debut, which was released around Christmas time.

The first pressing of the book saw 1,000 copies printed. Friends told Price it would never sell. But Price said she sold out in 10 days.

Nuse had more stories to share. Then Price said she starting hunting down other game wardens for future volumes.

"A lot of parents will say and tell the game warden, 'These are the only books my kid will read,'" said Price. "Others take the book to camp. They're even real aloud in nursing homes."

Wayne Rowell, a Wilmington resident who died in 2014, was one of several retired game wardens Price interviewed for the series.

About 15 or more game wardens have participated in the process.

"It takes a long time to interview someone," said Price. "They might give you bits and pieces of 30 or 40 stories then you really have to think about it and ask them details then think about it some more then focus in on three or four stories they might have and start it that way."

Part of the challenge for Price involves getting game wardens out of the mindset which pieces information together in a style more typical of a police affidavit. She said she has to ask her subjects to be more descriptive and oftentimes she gets stories that start off scary and end up being funny.

Bartleby's Books in Wilmington and Northshire Bookstore in Manchester carry the volumes. They also can be found online.

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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