We had the good fortune of connecting with Dagny (pronounced Dani) McKinley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dagny (pronounced Dani), what role has risk played in your life or career?
When I was young, I was afraid of everything and I missed out on so much in life. The quote “Taking risks doesn’t mean you don’t feel fear, acknowledge fear, or let fear inform you; you just don’t let it stop you” by Caren Merrick made me rethink how I look at life. I can be afraid, but still take risks. I can try and fail and not be a failure as long as I keep trying and learn from my mistakes.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am the author of seven books and have been exhibiting my photography for about five years now. My work focuses on women and connection to nature as there is incredible strength in both. I have written two local history books, that I hope will serve as an educational resource for our community and help people understand the incredible treasures our community has. I am currently working on a fiction book that takes place in Steamboat Springs, CO in the early years that will incorporate a lot of the history of how the town was developed. I got to where I am today by taking chances, setting goals and pushing myself. I graduated with a BA in English in my 20’s and while I wrote, I didn’t know how to take my writing to the next step of being published. I returned to school in my early 30’s to get my MFA. That, combined with support from my mentor, Edith Beer, allowed me to believe my work was good enough to be published. I reached out to a lot of magazines and publications, and didn’t let the rejections get me down. Writing is a solitary process, a place where I come to terms with the things I struggle with in the world, and the things that spark excitement in me. Writing a book often takes years with very little compensation. I do it because it’s what I do. When I write, I feel calm. That tells me I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing. Writing is also a way of leaving a legacy, a shadow of who I was and how I saw the world long after I’m gone.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would take them to the Zirkel Wilderness for a week long backpacking trip, going up to Big Agnes, Mount Zirkel and everywhere in between. When we were done, we’d go to Seedz for my favorite salad, or Fiesta Jalisco for Mexican food and a shot of the hoof. Because I wrote a book about it, I would take them to the mineral springs of Steamboat and to some local galleries including Steamboat Creates’ gallery, Gallery 89, Pine Moon Gallery, W Gallery, The Standard and Steamboat Art Museum. If it were summer, we would probably go tubing on the Yampa River or out to Stagecoach Marina and float on a pontoon boat or paddleboard or kayak.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Edith Lynn Hornik Beer has been a mentor to me for over 20 years. She is an accomplished writer and teacher and was the person responsible for pushing me to publish my first article. She continues to support and encourage my work. Rob McKinley- my father had read through my writing offering editing suggestions and much emotional support. Kim Keith – Executive Director of Steamboat Creates. She hired me for my current position as Development Director when I had no experience. She believed in me and supported me to become successful at my job. Naropa University – I earned my MFA with them and could not have had a more nurturing environment in which to take my writing to the next step. Steamboat Creates – for being the first gallery to exhibit my photography…