Book goes behind scenes

Newport author Michael Clark speaks to guests and signs copies of his book, “The Quiet Blossom,” during his book release party at the Newport Visual Arts center on Sunday, Nov. 18. (Photo by Shelby Wolfe)

A look at the marijuana industry

A native to the central coast has published his first book with Dancing Moon Press in Newport: a nonfiction work filled with colorful anecdotes and the resulting philosophical questions he found while working in the marijuana industry for six years.

Born and raised in Newport, Michael Clark attended Oregon State University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology — a degree that served him well in documenting what he saw and experienced in a small medical marijuana growing community in northern California during his time working in the industry.

“What’s kind of wild about it is that it started as an industry and people came for money — money was the attraction — but there was a value in the place, as well. And I think that value is sort of what’s behind this whole book,” said Clark. “The idea that people were willing to challenge an idea that they didn’t believe was correct, they were willing to take action rather than just discuss something. And, though inspired by an economic opportunity, the people who went there were willing to say, ‘Look, we don’t think that this law, that says marijuana is illegal, is right.’”

Clark described how he realized that it was more than an industry: it was a subculture. It was hard to nail down the parameters and definitions of that culture because of the rapid change happening in that time — Clark said that after President Barack Obama took office, the number of people in the area where he was working increased tenfold.

“It wasn’t just radicals, you know, it wasn’t just extremists and criminals out in the hills,” said Clark. “These were very, very normal mainstream Americans.”

The book is primarily composed of stories about the people and events that Clark encountered during his time working in the industry, but weaving between those stories are philosophical lines of thought and cultural observations — all in the voice of Newport’s own.

The book was published by Dancing Moon Press, based in Newport, a decision that Clark made for two reasons.

“The first was that Carla (Perry) was recommended to me by a few people. The second, and probably more importantly, because she was local,” said Clark. “I had the opportunity to form a personal relationship with her and interact with her face to face. A publisher becomes a partner in the final development of the book, and it is important that the author and publisher understand one another. A book is often a very personal expression, and in order for it to remain the piece that the author intended it to be, they need to be able to communicate clearly with the publisher and to trust them.”

The author held a release party in Newport on Sunday, Nov. 18, and he has hopes to do more readings around the state in the coming months.

“My hope with this is to reach people beyond just my community,” said Clark.

An audiobook version is planned for release soon, but currently “The Quiet Blossom” can be purchased as an e-book or paperback on Amazon; paperback copies are also available to order direct from the author at [email protected].