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Karen James was married to Kelly James, one of the climbers who tragically died atop Mount Hood in 2006. She is a former award-winning journalist who reported at ABC, NBC and CBS TV news affiliates across the country. In addition to working in communications at AARP for a number of years, she is an accomplished painter and an award-winning public relations consultant. She now speaks on surviving tragedy and loss and is committed to sharing her story and the lessons she has learned in hopes that it will bring peace

and comfort to others who are facing difficult times. She shares her life with her four stepchildren and greatly enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

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Q & A with Karen James
Q. Why did you write the book?

A. Something very special happened on the mountain between the families and the rescue workers and the story did not end for our family when Kelly’s body was found. There were a lot of facts that came out months after the tragedy and based on the reaction and letters I received, I believed it was important for me to tell the untold story behind the Mount Hood tragedy.

Q. How do you know your version of the climbing tragedy is accurate?

A. I spent countless hours talking to Sheriff Joe Wampler and sharing my writings with him, members the Crag Rats, Josh Johnston of the 304th and Steve Rollins, Rescue Leader of Portland Mountain Rescue to ensure that the facts are accurate. Even though this is a very personal story, I also applied my experience as a reporter when gathering the facts. I believe together we answer the mystery of what went terribly wrong on Mount Hood. It truly is the untold story.

Q. What is the significance of the title “Holding Fast”?

A. The book was named “Holding Fast” for a couple of reasons. First, I had to hold fast and strong to the idea that the climbers would be found and then after the news of Kelly’s death I had to hold fast to my faith to make it through the worst time of my life. Second, the song “Hold Fast” by the Christian music group MercyMe was played at the prayer service in Dallas during the search and rescue. For me the lyrics also fit Kelly’s situation and I was very touched that MercyMe gave permission to use their lyrics in the book and shared their song with us.

Q. What do you hope readers take away from the book?

A. I hope that by candidly sharing my journey of love, loss and faith it will help someone else who is dealing with a tragedy or help others to comfort those facing difficult times.


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