Remi Berube’s hunting and fishing buddies live in fear.
They are not worried about being attacked by a grizzly bear or pack of wolves while archery elk hunting, that’s part of the thrill of the sport. No, what they fear is Remi’s wife, Kristen, and she’s only 5-foot-5, cheerful and funny.
“My buddies are terrified that they’re going to get lined out in the book,” Remi said.
The book he’s referring to is “Confessions of a Camo Queen, Living With an Outdoorsman” a humorous paperback that Kristen wrote and Farcountry Press in Helena, Montana, recently published.
“I’m real honest about everything,” she said. “And I’m not embarrassed by anything.”
Therein lies the rub for Remi.
Kristen’s honesty is evident by looking at the chapter titles, such as “You expect me to poop in the bushes?” or “Camouflage lingerie.” In the chapter, “Is my booty frozen off,” Kristen writes of duck hunting with Remi for the first time: “Oh, yes, my camo guy explains, I get to drag a 200-pound bag of decoys through the snow and knee-deep slush to the blind and then scatter the decoys to entice the poor little real ducks to come check out the hot babes. Apparently ducks are a lot like men — easily seduced by plastic enhancements.”
Kristen is not a professional writer. She’s a 33-year-old denturist who co-owns the Missoula business with her husband. A Montana State University graduate, she grew up in Florence, a small town in western Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. She met Remi in 2001 while sharing a class with him at MSU in Bozeman.
A hard-core outdoorsman, Remi spent many of his final days in college majoring in fly fishing, Kristen joked. He had guided fishing trips in the Flathead area and considered taking up a fish and wildlife career before entering the business that Kristen’s former stepfather had run.
Kristen grew up fishing with her father and enjoys backpacking but isn’t a hunter. Now those outings are fewer because the couple are raising three children ranging in from 4 years to 6 months. It was while rocking their colicky first child, Brody, late at night that Kristen began typing out her funny tales on her cellphone. It was her way to keep from falling asleep.
“I’m really surprised I don’t have a really strong thumb,” she joked.
Kristen had never written any stories before. The most writing she had done was in college for class work. Now she has a list on her phone of another 50 story ideas.
When she read the first finished cellphone story to Remi, it was love at first write.
“My husband was laughing so hard, and I was laughing, too,” she said. “Every morning he’d wake up and ask me: “Did you write another story last night?’ ”
She said the stories became a stress reliever. Over the next six months she collected enough to fill a book.
After translating the stories from her phone to a computer and cleaning up the misspellings and punctuation, Kristen submitted a few of the stories to Farcountry Press, almost on a whim. It was the first publisher she contacted.
“I didn’t expect much to come from it,” she said. “And they loved it and wanted the rest of them. I didn’t really expect it to be that easy.”
Linda Netschert, publisher and co-owner of Farcountry Press, said when she first read Kristen’s stories she cracked up.
“It just seemed like a really fun book,” Netschert said. “And she’s a hoot.”
Farcountry is better known for photo books featuring expansive mountain landscapes, and books on history and hiking guides. But Netschert figured if she could relate to some of the tales, so could other readers.
“I have a set of antlers above my dining room table,” Netschert said. “Open my fridge and you’ll find worms in Styrofoam containers. I kind of live that life, too. And my husband thinks pink camo is the neatest thing in the world.”
Netschert said bookseller shows are a good place for authors to make an impression on buyers. So Remi used his elk calls to get everyone’s attention at the Portland show, and Kristen wore a pink camo outfit while reading from her book.
“At first he was embarrassed about all of it,” Kristen said, noting how Remi would squirm in his chair and avert his eyes as she recited chapters at events. “I told him it was payback for dragging me along on all of his adventures.”
Although over time Remi has grown more comfortable with the readings, he admits to being a bit paranoid of Kristen’s close observation. Rightfully so. According to Kristen, whenever she hears him say or do something funny, she writes it down — fodder for possible stories in the future. So now he’s more conscious than ever of his wife’s presence, and so are his friends.
“If she’s thinking about writing this down, it’s probably not something I want to be memorialized for,” he said.