When Cooke Boyd visited Montana in 1996, he returned home with a story untold and a life not yet lived.
For the next two decades this story of an alternate life in Montana rolled around his head, unrealized until he finally moved to Whitefish over a year ago.
Then that story began to unfold.
Boyd lives out this dream in his novel “Life in Montana — A love story,” which is a “95 percent fictional” tale of a man who moves to Montana, builds a cabin and two barns, runs a general store, and lives a meaningful life in the Flathead Valley with his family.
It is “a story of love and adventures, creation and imagination,” the back cover reads.
When he started the book he was working as a golf professional in Florida, a far cry from the fields and mountains he dreams up in the book.
The story begins with the protagonist considering his next step after a big move.
“I am in Montana now making a decision to leave my home back East to begin a new life,” he writes.
He didn’t have to look far for inspiration for that opening. Last September he acted out the same scene, packing as much as he could and heading out to the town that had been forever stuck in his mind.
“I finally said, ‘Oh, to heck with it, I’m out of here,’” he recalled. “I packed up as much as I could get in my car and on top of my car, put my yellow lab in the backseat and took off.”
In the years leading up to that move, however, sitting down to write the story was a way to be where he wanted to be, Boyd said.
“The reason I wrote it is because I couldn’t come out when I wanted to, and so I thought why not write about it? Many times I’ve just gone back to read it and make changes, and it just perks me up, makes me feel good,” he said.
“It came from the heart, I just sat in front of the computer and just typed away and it just kept spilling out like water out of a spigot.”
Writing isn’t new to Boyd. For decades he’s been writing fiction and nonfiction short stories, and he described several new ideas he already has for future works.
For him, what makes a good writer is a feeling of truth to oneself. Good stories by good writers come from the heart, he said, regardless of whether the story is fiction or nonfiction.
These stories should inspire readers and the writer alike.
“I’m very proud of [the book],” Boyd said. “It inspires me to want to do something else.”
Since acting out his dream and moving to the mountains, Boyd said he feels truly at home.
When he first set eyes on Whitefish, he realized he’d found everything he never knew he was looking for.
“I just looked at this little town and went, ‘Oh my God.’ I grew up upper-middle class family in Baltimore ... and it never felt comfortable to me,” he said. “When I came into town, I stood out on Central Avenue and it just felt comfortable. This whole area up here, it hit me like a ton of bricks.”
“I don’t think I can live in another place, ever. I’ll die here.”
“Life in Montana — A love story” is available on Amazon.com and from Boyd himself. For more information call 239-784-8736 or email firstname.lastname@example.org