In addition to penning a weekly fishing column in the Cape Cod Times, Rob Conery’s writing has appeared in various publications including Cigar Aficionado, Fly Rod & Reel, Powder, The Drake, and Sand Sports. A graduate of the University of Massachussetts, Conery splits his time between a hobo camp in western Maine and his native Cape Cod, where has has spent 44 consecutive summers within walking distance of Lewis Bay.
In June of 2015, Strawberry Books published Conery’s debut novel, Winterland, which tells the story of a group of individuals who band together to save a small ski town in Colorado from a Texas oil baron who hopes to build condos and turn the region into his own personal Aspen. Protagonist “Easy” Ed Stallings, who stumbled into a small fortune during his time in Key West before he moved to Winterland and opened a bar, leads the charge against the corporate overlords who threaten to not only destroy a town, but also the residents’ way of life.
To learn more about Conery and Winterland, visit www.strawberrybooks.com.
What was your childhood like, and how did it shape who you are today?
When I was a kid, my dad took me to a ball game. And he pointed out the center fielder. And he said to me, “Son, someday, if you work really hard, you’ll be big and strong enough to go out there and help me beat that guy up. He took me for $300 on the Giants game.”
Growing up, who were your biggest creative influences?
What inspired the story of Winterland?
Talking to ski bums around campfires, in Prague, and my kitchen table.
How much of yourself is there in the character of Ed Stallings?
How much research went into the story of Winterland?
Looking up dorms at the University of Wisconsin and subway stops in Chicago and the price of oil on the spot market for a given date was the only research. The rest I absorbed during time spent high in the Rockies, and driving beat cars across the country, hoping I’d make the next mile. Trying to relate how those things feel.
How did the opportunity to work for the Cape Cod Times come about, and what do you enjoy most about writing your weekly fishing column?
I grew up on the Cape. I used to deliver the Cape Cod Times as a kid. Their previous columnist, a genuine old salt called Molly Benjamin, an ex-commercial fisher who wore an eye patch, passed away in autumn 2006. She had the column for decades. I applied — I had grand total of four freelance pieces under my belt — and from some semi-finalists, they chose me.
I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from people who say: “I don’t fish, but I read your column every week.” I take that as a high compliment.
The column has been a fantastic introduction to many layers of the Cape’s rich fishing heritage. I fished before I had the column, but meeting so many new people, from little Janet Messineo on the Vineyard, a diehard bass fisherman, to going out on commercial and charter fishing boats, to speaking in front of terrific groups like Trout Unlimited and the Cape Cod Salties. Maybe the highlight was going to catch a giant bluefin tuna at Georges Bank, hundreds of miles offshore. The kind of fish you get tens-of-thousands of dollars for in the Tokyo auction. We were out there for three days and got one bite and landed the fish. The only things to eat were hot dogs and Mt. Dew.
Which authors have had the biggest influence on your writing style?
I don’t even think I’m a good enough writer to call these people “influences,” but I admire greatly the work of Tom Wolfe, Michael Lewis, Jon Krakauer, Mark Bowden, and Sebastian Junger.
Do you consider yourself to be superstitious?
Luckily, I don’t.
What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
Missoula by Jon Krakauer and Pedro by Pedro Martinez with Michael Silverman.
What is, in your opinion, the most impressive and/or memorable pitching performance of Pedro Martinez’s career?
Pedro Martinez coming out of the bullpen to win a decisive playoff game at Jacob’s Field, Cleveland, no-hitting the Indians for six innings without a fastball or his best stuff. Pure guts.
What was your favorite TV show as a child?
Wide World of Sports (for the skiing wipeout), This Week in Baseball (for the theme music) and Tom and Jerry (for the hijinks).
If you could sit down and talk to your ten-year-old self, what would you tell him?
What are you working on next?