Shelley Blanton-Stroud grew up in California’s Central Valley, the daughter of Dust Bowl immigrants who made good on their ambition to get out of the field. She teaches college writing in Northern California and consults with writers in the energy industry. She co-directs Stories on Stage Sacramento, where actors perform the stories of established and emerging authors, and serves on the advisory board of 916 Ink, an arts-based creative writing nonprofit for children.
“Dust floats in her blood like spores.”
Jane’s a very brave boy. And a very difficult girl.
Not my fault, she thinks, dropping a bloody crowbar in the irrigation ditch after Daddy. She steals Momma’s Ford and escapes to Depression-era San Francisco, where she fakes her way into work as a newspaper copy boy.
Everything’s looking up. She’s climbing the ladder at the paper, scoring connections with the artists and thinkers of her day. But then Daddy reappears on the paper’s front page, his arm around a girl who’s just been beaten into a coma one block from Jane’s newspaper―hit in the head with a crowbar.
"Copy Boy is a fantastic story of a young woman's survival and re-invention, set in Northern California during the Depression. Blanton-Stroud's prose sings and crackles and brings us into the world of Jane with so much compassion and beauty and wisdom. An engaging, wonderfully original book."
— Karen E. Bender, author of The New Order, long listed for the Story Prize,
and Refund, a National Book Award finalist
“A stellar debut. Copy Boy may be Shelley Blanton-Stroud's first novel, but it's apparent from page one that she's been working on her craft for many years. Combining the best elements of noir, historical fiction and coming-of-age stories, Blanton-Stroud has written a compelling, nuanced story. Deftly plotted and expertly executed, Copy Boy is as mesmerizing as the moment when the fog lifts over Nob Hill. Highly recommended.”
— Sheldon Siegel. New York Times Best-Selling Author of the Mike Daley/Rosie Fernandez novels
“Full of adventure, chutzpah, historical detail and, most of all, heart, Copy Boy is a thrilling, Depression-era coming-of-age story well suited to our times.”
— Maggie Shen King, award-winning author of An Excess Male
BITS AND PIECES
Photograph by Dorothea Lange (Public Domain). Before I knew I would write Copy Boy, I spent years collecting and annotating piles of books about Dorothea Lange, an iconic photographer of Dust Bowl migrants like my own family. Her pictures are a mirror of my relatives’...
Iconic San Francisco columnist Herb Caen is all over Copy Boy. He was my main character’s first inspiration. When I began writing, my protagonist (now Jane) was Johnny—a straight-up remake of Herb Caen’s prototype. It meant something to me that he was Sacramentan...
My origin story isn’t something that happened to me. It happened to my father. I inherited it. Kelly Blanton was one of eight sons and two daughters of Ruth and Emmett Blanton, all red-headed. They’d joined the Depression-era dust bowl exodus from the North Texas...