Valley Journal
Valley Journal

Polson man pens adventure novel

David “Dave” Basta had a recurring dream about an airplane crash and a pilot ending up in an underground cavern. It was a good story so he wrote a novel about this dream and titled his book “The Underside of the Mountain.”

Part of the appeal of this novel is that Basta is a pilot and understands planes and flying. 

Basta learned to fly when he won a flight scholarship right out of Glendive High School. Basta said his grades in high school weren’t stellar. 

In fact, he had to go back for a fifth year of high school. It must have been meant to be, Basta said, because he met his wife Fran, who was the new girl in school. 

Also after getting D’s and F’s up to that time, he started getting A’s. The Fixed Base Officer in Glendive told the state scholarship officer about this kid who had turned his life around, and Basta got one of 10 scholarships for the state of Montana. The scholarship was good for his private license. 

While he’s been a pilot since after high school, Basta hadn’t always been a writer. He wrote “The Underside of the Mountain” in 1998 after he retired after 32 years “making tape” for 3-M in St. Paul, Minn. 

“It (the book) took on a life of its own,” Basta said. “It wrote itself in a matter months.”

Basta said he tried to get a New York publisher interested in his novel, but publishers there weren’t interested unless he had an agent. Basta couldn’t get an agent unless he had a name so it was a catch-22, and he just sat on the book.

In the meantime, the Bastas considered moving to Montana. Basta said he didn’t want to move back to Glendive.

”I wanted to go somewhere where a tree wasn’t a landmark,” Basta explained.

One of their sons lived in Bigfork for a couple of years, and the couple had been to the area and liked it. They made two lists — reasons for moving to Montana and reasons for staying in Minnesota. With a grin, Basta said an item on both lists was that their six kids lived in Minnesota. Finally they moved to Polson in 2000.     

Even with the upheaval of moving, Basta didn’t forget his novel, though. Before one trip back to visit their kids in Minnesota, Basta recorded his novel. On the long car trip, the couple listened to the book. Fran took a notebook and made notations, and Basta fine-tuned his novel.

Basta also started driving the bus for the Polson Senior Center and delivering meals to older folks who can’t get into the center. Through delivering meals to Shirley’s mother, Basta reconnected with Shirley and Paul Laisy. They had all gone to school together years ago in Glendive. The Laisys continued to receive the Glendive Ranger-Review. 

In the paper was an article about an instructor at Dawson Community College who had the same problem Basta had encountered. He’d written a novel and couldn’t get it published. So the college teacher started his own publishing company called 4th Street Book Company.

Basta contacted the book company and got his novel published. He uploaded the book to createspace.com, an affiliate of Amazon so “The Underside of the Mountain” is also available on Amazon.com.

Before Basta penned his novel he “wasn’t even a reader.”  

Now Basta said, “”I’m just more apt to pick up a book than sit on a computer and play free cell.”

One book he’s read that he enjoyed was “Valley Creek” by E. W. Morigeau. 

Through driving the senior bus, Basta has gotten interested in the histories of some of his passengers, which he may write about.

Also he has started on his next book. This book will be “the slightly humorous account of growing up on a farm in Eastern Montana,” Basta said. The story is loosely based on “a kid’s recollections.” Basta even has a title; the new book will be called “Once Upon a Time in a Barnyard” subtitled “Looking Out for Number Two.” 

“The Underside of the Mountain” is available locally at the Polson Senior Center, as well as Super 1 and on Amazon.com.

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