Moscow woman edits, publishes her late husband’s African spy novelMany people dream of writing a book before they die. When Merrill Conitz died of a sudden heart attack while playing tennis in 2009, just a few days short of his 80th birthday, he had recently finished writing his first novel.
“The Wells of Belisa Kulal” is a fictional African spy adventure based on the years Conitz spent working in Africa. Conitz’s wife, Mary, edited and recently self-published the book. She’ll read and sign copies at 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22 at BookPeople of Moscow, 521 S. Main St.
“I knew it was something he would want to have done,” says Conitz, 84, of Moscow, who worked as a music teacher in Africa while her husband served as director of the Regional Remote Sensing Facility in Kenya as an employee of the U.S. Department of State.
The Conitzes met each other at a forestry camp outside Bovill while working their way through college. They settled in Moscow in 1953 when Merrill joined the civil engineering department at the University of Idaho. In the late 1960s, he served as chairman of the Moscow Planning Commission. He was also part of a group to help found the Tamarack ski area outside of Troy.
In 1968, Conitz was a visiting professor at the University of Nairobi. Over the next 20 years the couple spent 12 to 13 years living in Africa where Conitz learned to fly and worked with emerging satellite technology using the images for land-use purposes.
In the 393-page novel, Alex McCloud, an Idaho pilot and geologist familiar with Africa, is recruited to find and destroy a film capsule from an American spy satellite that has fallen on African soil. The book’s title refers to hidden underground wells in the Kalahari Desert known by bushmen.
The book costs $15.95 and is also available through Amazon.com.
Skling the Great Potato
It is not uncommon when skiing in Idaho to come upon a lost ski hill, a place barren of trees with a slope just right for a run.
“Ski the Great Potato, Idaho Ski Areas Past and Present,” by Margaret Fuller, Doug Fuller and Jerry Painter, documents the histories of Idaho ski areas, including 21 current areas and 72 historical or “lost” runs. In short chapters the book provides basic facts about each area, the people, reasons and stories behind its formation and how it ended or continued. Hills in the immediate region that are included are North South, Bald Mountain, Headquarters, early Moscow Mountain/Tamarack hills, Cottonwood Butte and Snowhaven.
Author Margaret Fuller has written and/or co-authored five guidebooks to Idaho trails and three books of natural history. The 294-page book is $22.95 and available through Trail Guide Books or by calling (208) 549-1820.
A Life in Alaska
Larry Clarke moved to a remote village on the Copper River in Alaska as a teenager in the 1940s. His father was a bush pilot and his mother opened up an abandoned hotel.
Now 81, Clarke retired to Clarkston in 2012 with his wife, Joy Cunningham. He has written five books about his adventures in the so-called last frontier. The first, “Chitina Past, the Late Forties” ($12.95) is a work of nonfiction about his youth. The most recent, “Alaska, Short Stories” ($14.95) is his fourth book of fiction and contains 19 short tales.
Clarke turned to writing after a career that included banking and real estate in Anchorage. He’ll sign copies of his self-published books from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22 at And Books Too, 918 Sixth St., Clarkston.