In this excerpt, in 1949, Calvin Johnson heads to Helena, Montana, in search of a fellow solider, Stanley Polensky, with whom he served in WWII. Johnson can’t be sure, but after waking up in a mass grave of dead soldiers after getting shelled, he dimly remembers Stanley shoving something in his mouth before he lost consciousness. He doesn’t understand the correlation between Stanley did and how it came to be that he’s still alive and has this uncanny ability to heal. He gets roped into helping put out the Mann-Gulch fire. In the actual fire, 12 smoke jumpers were killed, and Norman Maclean wrote a beautiful and haunting book, Young Men and Fire, in which he tries to piece together what happened many years later. It’s one of my favorite books, and I knew I wanted to included it somehow. In fact, a lot of the book is like that–a lot of things that I was interested in (female country music singers of the 1940s, World War II, Partition-era Poland). Fortunately, I was able to make it all work–I think.To read more, go here. To read the excerpt, go here.