Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Writing Southern Fiction - Guest Post and Giveaway by Author Elaine Drennon Little

Today I am honored to feature a guest post by Elaine Drennon Little, author of A Southern Place. I asked if she could share her thoughts on writing southern fiction, and as a North Carolina gal who first discovered the likes of Flannery O'Connor and Pat Conroy in high school, I was not disappointed. Enjoy!

Southern Fiction

While my husband attended law school in Macon, Georgia in the mid-80s, I juggled quite a few interesting jobs: special education teacher, church music director, private piano and/or voice teacher, freelance newspaper reporter, and file clerk for a home alarm system company, to name a few. However, my favorite of all was shelving books at the Shurling Branch Public Library, housed in a strip mall.

I actually did more; I catalogued incoming magazines, put the daily newspapers on the “stick,” and made phone calls to both delinquent patrons. But shelving books was my favorite of duties: it took me to parts of the library where I’d never have ventured before.

Did you know that Isaac Asimov has books in practically every section of the library? Sure, I knew about the big non-fiction science texts, and maybe some of his science fiction, but from shelving books, I learned about his crime novels, joke books, weight-loss guides, and even cookbooks. How about The Complete Guides to both Shakespeare and the Bible? My favorites, of course, were on the lighter side: Lecherous Limericks 1 & 2, Too Gross Limericks, Limericks for Kids, and (drum roll here!) a one-of-a-kind treatise entitled The Sensuous Dirty Old Man. Need I say more?

It was on one of my around-the-library-with-the-book-cart treks that I discovered the special area I would dream about for the rest of my life: a lone singular shelf covered in houseplants bore a worn rectangular sign proclaiming “Southern Fiction.”

I had read every Pat Conroy book every written; he was what God sent when Harper Lee and Margaret Mitchell wrote no more. But it was from that shelf that I met new friends I would treasure forever—Clyde Edgerton, Lee Smith, Anne Rivers Siddons, and Ferrol Sams. I formed a make-believe friendship with Jill McCorkle and Kaye Gibbons, and I swore that my father was the protagonist in Olive Ann Burns’ Cold Sassy Tree. Most of all, this wonderful little section of localized fiction gave credence to the fact that my insignificant life, with no great adventures or astounding contributions to mankind, just might be worth writing about.

In a recent interview for south Georgia newspaper The Albany Herald, editor Jim Hendricks went right to the heart of the matter with me.

“The writing bug goes a long way back. In high school, her English teacher, Virginia Jones, often urged her to write a book, Little said. “I thought that you had to have all these adventures first, had to have lived in the south of France,” she said. “I really didn’t have anything to write about. I had to live for a while before I had a perspective. I still can’t write about Paris, France, or the south of France, but I can write about what I know.”

These wonderful southern authors, with hearts as big as the Mississippi, drove home these stories of the plight of man with the wit and wisdom of the literary greats, yet they did so through conversations as common as a Sunday dinner in my native Newton, Georgia. They spoke MY language, and it was accepted (and loved) despite home-grown life and deep south idiosyncrasies I’d thought I needed to hide. If the world could handle the voices of Rainey, Ivy Rowe, and Virginia Turner Ballard, perhaps one day they’d listen to me.

I’ve been a bookworm all my life, and I’ve had my varied affairs with biographies, self-help, crime dramas, and book-of-the-month-club picks. There are a few authors I say I’ll never read again, only to find each new volume hidden in my grocery cart as soon as they hit the Kroger shelves. But those books are read and then given away, donated, or resold at yard sales. My collection of southern fiction is now even bigger than the one at the Shurling Library, so many years ago. It’s a part of me, and it’s staying.

There’s one big difference now: Between Harper Lee and Bret Lott is a slim, soft-cover volume with “Little” on the spine. And I’m hoping there will be many more.

Southern Fiction is the genre that drew me back to that long ago dream of writing. It the genre I enjoy reading most, but it’s also the one place in which I feel every author is speaking to me, personally. Is there an author (or authors) that whisper in your ear? Who? How long? Why?

Perhaps I’m not alone…

About the book:
A Southern Place is a moving book that is expertly written! Mary Jane Hatcher--everyone calls her Mojo--is beat up bad. She's in the ICU of Phoebe Putney, the largest hospital in South Georgia, barely able to talk. How Mojo goes from being that skinny little girl in Nolan, a small forgotten town along the Flint River, to the young woman now fighting for her life, is where this story begins and ends.

Mojo, her mama Delores and her Uncle Calvin Mullinax, like most folks in Nolan, have just tried to make the best of it. Of course, people aren't always what they seem, and Phil Foster--the handsome, spoiled son of the richest man in the county--is no exception.

As the story of the Mullinax family unfolds, Mojo discovers a family's legacy can be many things: a piece of earth, a familiar dwelling, a shared bond. And although she doesn't know why she feels such a bond with Phil Foster, it is there all the same, family or not. And she likes to think we all have us a fresh start. Like her mama always said, the past is all just water under the bridge. Mojo, after going to hell and back, finally comes to understand what that means.

Paperback: 294 Pages
Publisher: WiDo Publishing (August 6, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1937178390
Twitter hashtag: #ASPLittle

A Southern Place is available as a print and e- book at Amazon.

About the Author:
Adopted at birth, Elaine lived her first twenty years on her parents’ agricultural farm in rural southern
Georgia. She was a public school music teacher for twenty-seven years, and continued to dabble with sideline interests in spite of her paid profession. Playing in her first band at age fourteen, she seemed to almost always be involved in at least one band or another. Elaine’s writing began in high school, publishing in local newspapers, then educational journals, then later in online fiction journals. In 2008 she enrolled in the MFA program at Spalding University in Louisville, where upon graduation finished her second novel manuscript. Recently retiring after eleven years as a high school chorus and drama director, Elaine now lives in north Georgia with her husband, an ever-growing library of used books, and many adopted animals.

Find out more about this author by visiting her online:

Author blog: http://elainedrennonlittle.wordpress.com/

Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/elaine.d.little

I have one copy of A Southern Place to give away to a lucky reader! To enter, please use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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