Meet the Author

Branch Underline

Beth Hodder-AuthorHi, and welcome to the world of Jessie and Oriole. Please visit my books to learn about the exciting part of Montana that they call home and which provides inspiration for their stories. Meanwhile, let metell you a bit about myself.

In 1978, I made a huge decision to leave my teaching job in Ohio to move to Montana and see where life would lead me. I worked seasonal jobs in Glacier National Park for two summers and substitute taught in between. Then I was hired permanently with the U.S. Forest Service as a mail clerk. That job launched a twenty-five-year career inspecting tree-planting, stand exam, and thinning contracts; planting trees; and doing other related work. It also introduced me to my husband, Al Koss, who also worked for the Forest Service.
In the 1990s, part of my job involved conducting rare plant surveys for the Flathead National Forest. Later while working as the writer/editor for a planning team, I was asked to start a native plant program for the Forest. The program partnered with the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation to rehabilitate wilderness campsites. Between the rare plant surveys and campsite rehabilitation work, I was able to see much of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex (the Bob Marshall, Great Bear, and Scapegoat Wildernesses). I consider myself extremely fortunate to have spent so much time in such amazing country. 
While I explored the wilderness, Al spent thirteen years working at the Spotted Bear Ranger Station with the Flathead National Forest. Part of his job included managing the Great Bear Wilderness trails and recreation programs. I visited Al when my work took me there, or whenever I could hike in for a weekend or longer. We lived in the ranger’s house at the Schafer Meadows Ranger Station, where my first two books, The Ghost of Schafer Meadows, and Stealing the Wild take place. I consider Schafer Meadows and Spotted Bear as extended homes.

The times I worked in the Bob Marshall Wilderness inspired me to write Out of the Ashes. Much of the landscape in “The Bob” has changed over the past few decades because of many fires, and the altered landscape became the important setting for this book.
I retired in 2004 to explore other passions. I love hiking, especially with Al and our dog, Scout, and take every advantage to visit the mountains of Montana and Arizona, where we split our time. I am a volunteer fire lookout for the Flathead National Forest, which gives me a wonderful view of some of my favorite country. Because of my love for lookouts, I’m also a board member with the Northwest Montana Forest Fire Lookout Association, a non-profit dedicated to supporting Federal and State agencies in the restoration and maintenance of fire lookouts on public lands. I also enjoy cross-country skiing, reading, and travel. A new passion is the life-long learning of tai chi. 
In 2010, I was an artist-in-residence with the Artist-Wilderness-Connection program sponsored by the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation, Flathead National Forest, Hockaday Art Museum, and Swan Valley Connections (formerly Swan Ecosystem Center). My proposal was to develop the story line for the third book in the Jessie and Oriole mystery series. At the end of eight days, I had fifteen chapters "outlined" on sticky notes. Since then I polished what became the actual story. The final result is Out of the Ashes.
Writing novels is exciting. It has opened new doors and has introduced me to many wonderful and generous people whom I now consider friends. I am pleased to have so much interest in my stories.





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