Take Me Back: An Anecdotal History of the Mad River Valley

Waitsfield resident Mary Kathleen Mehuron is celebrating the launch of her third novel, The Belonger, on SparkPress. But there’s so much more to the story than that. She says, “I didn’t want to just throw a launch party again and ask my friends to come and buy my new book. I did that with my second novel, and it felt hollow to me. This time around I wanted to give something back to my community in the same measure I was asking to receive. But I will be honest when I tell you, I really had no idea how hard it was going to be to start the Take Me Back project.”

               While working on her novel, Mary Kathleen began writing some articles about the history of The Mad River Valley for The Valley Reporter newspaper. During her research she noticed that the Fayston, Moretown, Waitsfield and Warren Historical societies were struggling and wondered if there might be a way to help. In the meantime, the articles became a column called Take Me Back, and she was able to achieve 501(c)(3) non-profit status. The Take Me Back mission is to raise awareness about and money for organizations that want to showcase the history of the Valley. It all led to a fundraising book that came out the same day as The Belonger. The effort took two years from when the first article was written to the recent publication of the book.

               Take Me Back: An Anecdotal History of the Mad River Valley is non-fiction told in the voices of locals. All the contributors- writers, editors, artists and photographers donated their work. Local businesses and individuals pitched in to pay for the graphic designer and printer.  Public Relations and Communications Manager of Sugarbush Resort, John Bleh, was an early and enthusiastic believer in the project. When Sugarbush came on board as the Flagship Donor it was the push needed to enable 100% of the purchase price to go to history projects across our Valley.

               New York Times Best-selling author James M. Tabor agreed to be the Project Mentor. Mary Kathleen’s son, Jonathan C. Hyde, who is a show-runner for Amazon Prime was the Lead Art Consultant. She says, “Having Jonathan in the mix meant we talked about the visual impact of the book for hundreds of hours… and he bossed me around a lot. It was my job to search Vermont for a graphic designer that matched Jon’s criteria. It took many months to find Marin Horikawa of Moderate Breeze Design, but it was he who elevated a fun book into a work of art.

“This is not your average coffee table book. It is, like so much  of the Valley’s heritage, a home-grown product from start to finish. We believe that is part of what will make it a keepsake for generations to come. This first print run is small-batch- hand-crafted first editions. We wanted it to be a gift to all who love this area and so we were obsessed with the quality of the materials used.” 

               The novel, The Belonger will also be available wherever you buy books. If you are interested in Take Me Back: An Anecdotal History of the Mad River Valley, please email marykathleenmehuron@gmail.com.

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