After reading and reviewing Shaded by Stone, I wanted to get to know the author, Ari Schneider, even more. The book was very personal, and it left me with some questions about his greater background, and also the self-publishing process. Ari’s thoughtful answers give a great background to his headspace while writing the book.

In the book you mentioned you went to college in Boston and it left me wondering, what did you study?

I studied Political Science at Tufts University. Tufts had a great Political Science department, and I wanted to take courses that were heavy in reading, writing, and critical thinking, so the major made sense at the time. A lot of the philosophy I’ve included in my writing has been influenced by some of my political theory studies.

This is very personal book, who did you write Shaded by Stone for?

When I started writing Shaded by Stone, I was writing it for myself. Writing has been a therapeutic process for me, and this book was my own reflective journey. But as I wrapped up the story, I shaped it into something that I thought a general reader could enjoy. It is a climbing story, and I think climbers in particular will connect with it, but I didn’t want it to only be relatable for climbers. I hope the book will speak to readers that are looking to think deeply and confront difficult questions.

What is the backstory behind dedicating Shaded by Stone to: “For None”?

I was really torn about whom I would dedicate the book to. But about a week before my deadline I made a few interesting connections about the themes I included in Shaded by Stone. Some of the metaphors in the book are related to Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra. I also quoted Zarathustra in the book’s front matter, “I stand before my highest mountain and my longest wandering: therefore I must descend deeper than I have ever descended.” Nietzsche called Thus Spoke Zarathustra, “A book for all and for none.” I wrote Shaded by Stone for myself, not for anyone else. It was the culmination of four years worth of intrapersonal thought. The final chapter in the book is called Alone, and it dives into my thoughts as I climbed a first ascent in the desert solo. At the time I was focused on creating that route without influence from others. All that considered, it felt perfect to dedicate the book to None.

Who did the illustrations in Shaded by Stone?

My good friend, Devon Savino, who I went to high school with, made the cover art and most of the interior illustrations. I created three of the simpler interior drawings. Devon has done a bit of creative work for me in the past, and I love his style.

Shaded by Stone Illustration

What is the self-publishing route like for you?

I love self-publishing books. It gives me creative freedom throughout the entire process. I really enjoy doing my own layout and interior design from start to finish. Modern technology and social media have made self-publishing quite viable for writers. The first book I published took a lot of trial and error, but after four books I have my system dialed and now it’s a fairly easy process. I asked friends to help with editing when I was just getting started. I certainly asked for too many favors early on. Now I hire at least three professional editors for each book, but mistakes always fall through the cracks, which is the most frustrating part of publishing.

What inspired the chapter on climbing and religion?

I am not religious at all, but I hear a lot of people in the outdoor community expressing their spiritual connections with the wilderness. I’ve heard many people refer to climbing as their religion. That chapter title, My Temple, was inspired by one of my climbing mentors who called the Bugaboos his temple. For some reason, the way he said it, pleading, “My temple, my temple,” really stuck with me. My Temple is a meditative chapter in which I try to understand why I am in love with climbing, despite its dangers and difficulties, after getting caught in a lightning storm in the Bugaboos. The connections made between climbing and religion in that chapter were part of a personal Socratic process.

Did any climbing stories get left on the editing room floor?

There were many climbs that happened over the time period of Shaded by Stone that did not make it into writing because they didn’t link into the themes in the book. There was only one story I liked that got cut from the book at the last minute. It was about the time my dog, Breezy, and I hiked and skied Mount Adams in the Cascades. Breezy is a tiny 15-pound terrier, but she loves big adventures. She was able to hike up most of the volcano aside from a few steep and icy sections where I carried her. I skied down with her in my backpack. It was a fun story, and I tried to find a place for it, but it was too much of a tangent in the book.

Shaded by Stone Breezy
Ari’s faithful companion, Breezy.

Curious more about the actual book?
Read a full Book Review of Shaded by Stone here


And lastly, how did you choose Denver as your new home base?

Denver is a great location for an avid traveler. It is right in the middle of the US, so I can drive to either coast in two days, and the airport is really convenient. Access to the mountains is pretty good for a city. I grew up in a fairly small town and I spend a lot of time playing in the backcountry, so I enjoy being in a city during my down time. It’s a nice change of pace, and I like the little conveniences like being able to walk to a coffee shop. There’s also a great climbing community in the Denver/Boulder area. I coach at Movement Climbing and Fitness and have made some great climbing friends there. I’ve always been much more of a trad climber, but I am starting to enjoy pulling on plastic and training with the crew at Movement. Overall, Denver works well for my lifestyle.

 

Shaded by Stone Cover

Shaded by Stone is available on Amazon and local bookstores.

You can find more of Ari Schneider on Instagram and Facebook. Read more of his writing on his website.

Heads up! If you’re in Colorado, you can hear Ari speak at an event at Neptune Mountaineering in Boulder on March 18th, 2019.