Confronted by murder, arson, prisons, and orphanages—all on page one—you quickly realize that One Night in a Bad Inn isn't exactly a travel narrative. Still, Christy Leskovar's true account of her family’s turbulent history in Montana brims with a sense of place, from a rough homestead near Forsyth to the even rougher mining neighborhoods of Butte. After meeting readers who sought out locales in the book, Leskovar compiled a list of destinations on her Web site, www.onenightinabadinn.com.
Q Which places are most evocative for you?
A On a cloudy, cold day, I walked by myself through the Old Montana Prison in Deer Lodge, where my great-grandmother spent 14 months for bigamy. The cells, the ramparts—it was just eerie.
Q Any others?
A Forsyth and eastern Montana. The open country, the Yellowstone River cutting through the rimrock. My greatgrandfather's horse barn is still standing. And there's the courthouse in Forsyth, with its murals of Moses with the Ten Commandments and nobles with the Magna Carta. My great-grandmother was the first person ever tried there.
Q What prompted readers to write?
A I've had a lot of feedback from the great Butte diaspora across the country. Many remembered the drugstore where my grandmother worked.
Q Why did your great-grandparents leave Pennsylvania?
A I suspect my greatgrandfather was trying to hide his spouse from other men. The move didn’t straighten her up.
Q Might the East have been better for them?
A Like everybody, they were shaped by the places they lived. But they would have run into trouble anywhere.
Q Where’s the bad inn?
A It's a metaphor. In the big picture, life’s struggles don’t add up to more than a night in a bad inn.
Photography by David Grubbs
This article was first published in January 2008. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.