Local author bares it all in new book
February 12, 2010
On the cover of his recently published book, "How Many Lives Do You Have? Volume Two of I Have Time," local author Todd Stuart is naked. He’s soaking in the hot springs of Midway, wine and cheese in hand, in his birthday suit.
This doesn’t come as a surprise, considering that on the cover of his first book, Stuart is pictured telemark skiing down the face of a sand dune, also in the buff.
"When you write an autobiography, you better be ready to bare your soul," he explains. "Nudity is a symbol of personal honesty."
Stuart’s autobiography is "a story about how truth, beauty and wilderness can heal the human soul." "There’s more to it than skiing naked in the desert," he says. "It’s about the triumph of the human spirit and the joy of living your dreams."
So far, Stuart has self-published the first two books in a series he anticipates will ultimately include five or six. The story covers a 15-year span of his life and encompasses his great loves: skiing, the outdoors, truth and beauty.
It also delves into his issues with the Mormon Church, his views about money, and some of his more unusual experiences, including a bout with viral encephalitis that put him in an 11-day coma.
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Stuart’s first book, "Nobody Owes You Tomorrow," starts in 1989, the year of his divorce from his wife and the mother of his three daughters. He renounced most of his earthly possessions and moved into a mountain yurt. He still lives there, about six miles from Deer Valley, where he works as a snow cat driver.
"People talk about their dreams," he says. "I’ve chosen to go and live mine, and one of them is living in the wilderness."
"How Many Lives Do You Have?" recounts Year 4 of Stuart’s story. In order to continue to provide child support to his ex-wife, Stuart took a reprieve from his mountain lifestyle in 1992 and took on a job as a guide for Northstar Expeditions, a program that took troubled teenagers into the Utah wilderness in an attempt to heal them.
At the time, Stuart wasn’t granted contact with his own children, and he found a deep connection with the kids in the program. "Time is all we have," he told them. "There’s a big, wide world out there that you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in. How many lives do you have?"
Helping the kids help themselves became a therapeutic experience for Stuart. "I hope that in nurturing young adults, I can help them to realize how precious their life is. They only have one that they know of," he says.
Stuart has since developed a relationship with his own daughters. "To have them back in my life is a dream come true for sure," he says. "The past is the past and the future is as bright as we can make it."
The proceeds from all of Stuart’s books are going into an account he hopes to use to launch a ski program for children in the Himalayas. He has been inspired by Greg Mortenson, the author of "Three Cups of Tea," and by his daughter, who spent time volunteering in Nepal.
"They have long winters, high altitude, steep mountains They should be skiing," he declares.
Stuart is currently working on the third volume in the series, which he plans to publish next fall. He already has a nude photo picked out for the cover. Meanwhile, he continues to live the life of a true mountain man.
Every night around 10 p.m., he climbs out of his snow cave, snaps on his skis and power-bounds down the mountain to his snow cat. He grooms terrain all night and in the morning, he skis at the resort before hiking back up to his humble abode for food and sleep.
As long as he avoids avalanche danger ("I don’t have a death wish," he says) and continues to cherish peace and quiet, he plans to stay through the winters for many years to come.
During the summers, he switches from skiing to kayaking, which, he says, "is like skiing on a river."
On Saturday, Feb. 13, Stuart will be at Dolly’s Bookstore on Main Street for a book signing from 6 to 9 p.m. "How Many Lives Do You Have?" is available at Dolly’s and online at http://www.amazon.com.