Local spotlight: Author Jill Sheeley continues to publish Fraser’s books
Maybe Jill Sheeley was on to something meteorological when she wrote the last installment of her children’s book series “The Adventures of Fraser the Yellow Dog”.
âFraser Rescues Christmas,â which was released earlier this season with illustrations by Tanya Richards, cites an impending blizzard as the call for a helping hand from this brave canine Fraser and his human companion Courtney to ensure that Santa Claus can do the usual gift tours.
Sheeley, who lives in Brush Creek Village just outside of Snowmass Village proper, wrote the book long before the Christmas weekend forecast was released. But after a storm hit Friday that dropped feet of snow over the weekend and canceled or diverted most flights to and from the city, some young readers may have been hoping for a bit of Fraser magic to keep the festivities going as planned. .
âLooks like Fraser’s Christmas adventure (with) the huge blizzard has come to life this year!â Sheeley texted on December 24.
The writing may have preceded the experience in this case, but it’s usually the other way around for Sheeley, whose fictional Fraser was based on the very real longtime family dog ââof the same name (the real Fraser is died in 2008). Courtney is a character inspired by Sheeley’s daughter; Kip, an Australian Shepherd whose children’s adventures came after Fraser’s, is based on Courtney’s own puppy. Sheeley also wrote a memoir, “Those Were the Days: Memories of an Aspen Hippie Chick”, about her early years in Aspen, and a young adult novel, “The Blue Bottle,” which follows Courtney on a trip to the Caribbean.
âMost of the books are really written from our personal experiences or from something that happened to a neighbor,â Sheeley said in a telephone interview on Dec. 23.
This includes âRescue on Snowmass Mountain,â the very first iteration of âAdventures of Fraser the Yellow Dog,â which takes into account the Sheeley family’s connection to Snowmass. Sheeley has visited Sam’s restaurant as well as Gwyn’s High Alpine; her late husband Don Sheeley was a patroller there and her daughter – then aged 9 or 10 – wanted to ski Hanging Valley Wall at the time.
âIt made perfect sense that the first book was in Snowmass,â Sheeley said. Further installments followed Fraser and Courtney at the Maroon Bells and Star Mountain; Kip’s adventures touched many other familiar sites around Aspen and Snowmass.
What perhaps makes a little less sense is that Sheeley often associates her books with this region and specific times of the year – her first book, “Christmas in Aspen”, was also a seasonal book – but she wouldn’t necessarily tell someone else to take the same approach. Can a book that takes place at Christmas work even when the holidays are over?
âOf course I did ask myself that question back when I was doing a lot of consulting for people who wanted to, you know, publish their own booksâ¦ and I never would have told a client to write a seasonal book. and regional. – never, âSheeley said. “And here’s what I did, but you know it’s kind of one of those things when you have an idea, you kind of go there.”
The idea this time around came after a book reading she did at the Jerome Hotel during the Christmas season in 2019. (She returned to the hotel with a few other places in town to read the last book in December.)
But the book is one that Sheeley says will have some momentum even now that the Christmas countdown is back in a year.
âI just feel like the people who got the first set of books are always looking for the next story,â Sheeley said.
After this December storm cycle, they might also start to look to Sheeley for the next forecast.
Want to shine the spotlight on a local Snowmass Village? Email Kaya Williams at [email protected].