"I think more about character and setting than anything else," said Helget before adding her rejoinder to the criticism of having too many colorful characters: "That's the best criticism I've ever gotten."
The book, however, actually began as a collection of short stories. As such, the narrative retains a punchy, episodic trajectory that reveals a series of rises and falls, rather than emphasizing a single, over-arching storyline.
Helget said writing the book was laboring at times (as, she pointed out, all jobs are) but found the process punctuated by inspiring moments. Writing about Beaver Jean, she said, was particularly satisfying.
"In general, I'm a very dissatisfied person," Helget said when asked for her personal evaluation of the book. "I never think a thing is really great. But I came to a place where I was OK with 'Stillwater' and ready to let it go."
Presently, Helget is working on her next book, "Wonder at the Edge of the World," which will be published by Little, Brown and Company in 2015.