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Archive for the tag “Fiction”

Terry Kay — Book Events

Celebrate with Terry Kay at two upcoming book signings of his new novel,

The King Who Made Paper Flowers


In 2006, Terry Kay was inducted into the Georgia Writer’s Hall of Fame in ceremonies conducted at the University of Georgia, honoring the accomplishments of a man who began as an errand boy for a weekly newspaper. The journey of his career covers more than fifty years of the most dynamic changes in the state’s history. The award-winning novelist was born in Hart County, Georgia, the eleventh of twelve children, on February 20, 1938. He was reared on a farm, graduating from West Georgia Junior College in 1957 and then LaGrange College in 1959. Kay began his career in journalism in 1959 at the Decatur-DeKalb News, a weekly newspaper in Decatur, Georgia, and later worked for The Atlanta Journal as a sportswriter, and for eight years, as one of America’s leading film-theater critics. In 1989, he left a corporate job in public relations to pursue his passion for writing.

Kay published his first novel in 1976, The Year the Lights Came On, a story inspired by his memory of the coming of electricity to his rural community. He went on to publish After Eli 1981, and in 1984 Dark Thirty, an examination of justice vs. vengeance set in Appalachia. These three publications established Terry Kay as a versatile writer able to navigate through genres with authority. His signature novel To Dance With the White Dog, positioned Kay’s works as Southern classics, winning him the Outstanding Author of the Year award in 1991, two nominations for the American Booksellers’ Book of the Year (ABBY) award, and a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie starring Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. The production earned the highest television rating of the 1993 season, with more than 33 million viewers.


Since 2007, Mercer University Press has proudly published the writings of Terry Kay. The Book of Marie, Bogmeadow’s Wish, The Greats of Cuttercane, The Seventh Mirror, Song of the Vagabond Bird, and his new novel, The King Who Made Paper Flowers.

Kay’s works have been translated into numerous foreign countries, including Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Sweden, Germany and Holland. His work has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies, including Reader’s Digest, Atlanta Magazine, A Confederacy of Crime, The Chattahoochee Review, and the Georgia Review. He scripted an episode of In the Heat of the Night and won a Southern Emmy for his original teleplay, Run Down the Rabbit.

Kay’s many honors and awards include induction into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame in 2006, the Governor’s Award in the Humanities (GA) in 2009, the Georgia Writers Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011, and The Terry Kay Prize for Fiction, an annual award presented by the Atlanta Writers Club.


The King Who Made Paper Flowers

Sunday, April 17th — 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Friends of the Library—Café au Libris
Athens-Clarke County Library
Appleton Auditorium
2025 Baxter Street
Athens, GA 30606

Monday, April 18th — 7:15 pm – 9:00 pm
Georgia Center for the Book’s Festival of Writers
Decatur Library, Main Branch
215 Sycamore Street
Decatur, Georgia 30030

* adapted from

Announcement of Winners — 2014 Mercer University Press Book Awards

Mercer University Press is pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Annual Book Awards. Each 2014 award comes with a $500 advance and a book contract for publication in Spring 2016.

Mary Anna Bryan has been awarded the 2014 Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction for her submission entitled Cardinal Hill.

Past recipients of this award include Marly Youmans, Raymond L. AtkinsStephen Roth, and Dale Cramer.

Judge’s comment: “The writer of this novel displays a talent for description, dialogue, and interesting plot twists. Margaret [the main character] is no saint, but her stubborn determination to uncover the truth of her family history turns Cardinal Hill into an interesting detective story. Margaret is smart and imaginative, with a wry sense of humor that holds our interest. Cardinal Hill is a novel that speaks authentically to a specific time and place in the South.”

Lesley Dauer has been awarded the 2014 Adrienne Bond Award for Poetry for her submission entitled Carnival Life.

Past recipients of this award include Seaborn Jones, Kelly Whiddon, Megan Sexton, and Philip Lee Williams.

Judge’s comment: This is a beautifully written collection of poems.”

William E. Merritt has been awarded the 2014 Will D. Campbell Award for Creative Nonfiction for his submission entitled Crackers: A Memoir.

Past recipients of this award include Kathy A. Bradley and Joseph Bathanti.

 Judge’s comment: “One of the elements that strikes me as being quintessentially Southern is the author’s ability to describe the most poignant, even heartbreaking, moments with wry humor, that singular trait that has enabled the South and Southerners to endure.”

 The Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction is given to the best manuscript that speaks to the human condition in a Southern context. This category includes both novels and short stories.

The Adrienne Bond Award for Poetry is given to the best manuscript that exemplifies the poetic language and vision of the author.

The Will D. Campbell Award for Creative Nonfiction is given to the best manuscript that speaks to the human condition in a Southern context. This category includes memoir, natural history, essays, and other genres of nonfiction.

Mercer University Press, established in 1979, has published more than 1400 books in the genres of Southern Studies, History, Civil War History, African American Studies, Appalachian Studies, Biography & Memoir, Fiction, Poetry, Religion, Biblical Studies, and Philosophy. Publishing authors from across the United States and abroad, Mercer University Press focuses on topics related to the culture of the South. The reputation of the Press significantly enhances the academic environment of Mercer University and carries the name of Mercer and Macon, Georgia throughout the world.

A “Glimmer” of Insight from Marly Youmans

Ariadne’s Thread

In her working years, my mother was a university librarian, but now she has retired to a world of garden, birds, books, and weaving. If I glance at her loom, I find that some things are always plain and simple: warp, weft, shuttle, ‘shed,’ reed, and beater. But as time passes, what is wound on the cloth beam changes. When she removes the cloth, I may find shawls and table runners and the most absurdly beautiful hand towels—it’s all a surprise. Patterns may vary wildly; there are infinite variations. The constants are tension, materials, and one person’s distinct sense of color and design.

It’s that way in many of the arts. The self (however much in flux it might be) and the tools are the constant warp, and the weft of art dances its dance among the threads.

Sometimes I am asked why I write in what people regard as different modes, some called “realistic” and some “fantastic.” Perhaps these variations are my changing weft. But I do not feel them as profoundly different activities. To me, there is nothing but the pouring-out and a dreaming toward shapeliness, and that’s true whether we’re talking about one of my novels or one of my recent books of poetry (The Throne of Psyche, The Foliate Head, and Thaliad.)

As for “realism,” I find that in some fundamental way, I do not believe in it. All stories and songs are made things. If they could be exactly like what we call reality, they would be reality—and what could be more fabulous and strange and impossible than that?

Given the way books are discussed in our time, it’s possible to say that my A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage is a realistic narrative about a Depression-era’s orphan’s struggle to find his place, or that Glimmerglass is a search that takes place in a solid, realistic world but does the fantastic thing of taking the muse as a possible, literal figure—and at one point borrows from the ancient form of the somnium, or dream vision. But I would not reach for genre terms to describe either of them. For me, books are on a kind of thread or continuum, moving from one way of telling the truth to another. All that matters to me is whether they are good books or not.

All art is created, shaped, dreamed into existence. What matters is not genre or categorization but the extent to which a fabric made of words—the warp and weft making up a kind of little maze—contains an Ariadne’s thread of energy that leads to larger life.


Marly Youmans is the author of the just-released novel, Glimmerglass. “A writer of rare ability” (Baton Rouge Advocate), Marly is the award-winning author of a dozen books. Recent works include A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage, called “the finest and the truest period novel I’ve read in years” by the late Lucius Shephard; Throne of Psyche: Poems, and Thaliad, hailed as “a work of genius,” “amazing, mesmerizing” by novelist Lee Smith. A native of the Carolinas, Youmans now lives near the mouth of the Susquehanna with her husband and three children.

Learn more about Marly Youmans





MUP Authors to Attend Decatur (GA) Book Festival!

Mercer University Press is proud to announce a number of our fine authors will be attending the Decatur Book Festival!

Stephen Davis (What the Yankees Did to Us)
Robert Jenkins (The Battle of Peach Tree Creek)
Daniel Cone (Last to Join the Fight)
Raymond Atkins (Sweet Water Blues)
Carolyn Newton Curry (Suffer and Grow Strong)
Megan Sexton (Swift Hour)


WhatTheYankees    PeachTreeCreek     Last to Join.jpgCurry_Suffer_Jacket01.inddSexton-Cvr-02.indd



Decatur BookFest

Fifty Years of the Georgia Author of the Year Awards!

GAYA SealThis year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Georgia Author of the Year Awards (GAYA), the oldest literary award in the Southeast. We are very proud that we have wonderful Mercer authors nominated!

Raymond Atkins, Camp Redemption (fiction)

Martha M. Ezzard, The Second Bud (memoir)

Jackie K. Cooper,  Memory’s Mist (memoir)

William Rawlings, A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff  (history)

Veronica Womack, Abandonment in Dixie  (history)

Charles Campbell, Senator Richard B. Russell and My Career as a Trial Lawyer (autobiography)

Jaclyn Weldon White, A Southern Woman’s Guide to Herbs (specialty)

Terry Kay, The Seventh Mirror (children’s)

An Interview with Stephen Roth, author of the novel A Plot for Pridemore

Mercer University Press couldn’t be prouder to announce the release of Stephen Roth’s first novel, A Plot for Pridemore. The 2012 winner of the Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction, this novel is a whirlwind of intrigue and shenanigans in a small Missouri town.

Stephen is a native of LaGrange, Georgia, and long-time journalist, and he stopped by the blog today to talk about his terrific foray into fiction.


1. Baby Alison and her rescue from a well inspires the mayor’s scheme to bring infamy to Pridemore. Did news stories similar to Baby Alison’s strike you when you were younger?

I have always been fascinated by news accounts of extraordinary things happening in ordinary places, and the effect that those stories have on people. The fictional Baby Alison story is inspired by the real-life Baby Jessica rescue that happened in 1987 in Midland, Texas. During the handful of days workers were trying to rescue Jessica McClure from the well, you could not go anywhere in my hometown of LaGrange, Georgia, without hearing people talking about it. I remember sitting at a high school football game on a Friday night and the PA announcer suddenly blurting, “Ladies and gentlemen, the little girl in Texas has been rescued from the well!” Of course, everyone stood up and cheered. That left an impression on me. Nobody in that stadium knew Baby Jessica or her family, but they were all pulling for her with all their heart.

2. The heart of the plot for A Plot for Pridemore is the decline in the American small town. In what ways is this topic significant to you?

I have had the good fortune to know a few small towns in my life. Some of
them have been more prosperous than others. I wasn’t thinking about the decline of American small towns when I wrote the book, but I thought the idea of a dying town and how to save it would be an interesting topic. I also love the setting of a small town—the slow pace, intimacy and the familiarity people have with each other. In a way, I feel that Pridemore itself is one of the more intriguing characters in the book.   

3. Pete Schaefer is a journalist and appears more level-headed than many other characters in the novel. How closely do you relate to Pete as a fellow journalist?

I don’t know how level-headed Pete really is, but I do identify with him. Like Pete, I started my newspaper career working for small publications, living by myself, eating Taco Bell in my studio apartment. There’s a loneliness and uncertainly to starting out on your own after the shelter of college. There is a lot of grunt work. You aren’t making much money at all. There are moments of, “Is this really what I spent four years of my life preparing for?” I think that is what Pete struggles with in this story. 

4. Pete’s romance with the under-aged Angela seems a risky choice for you, particularly if the novel is meant to appeal to those with rural, small-town sensibilities. Tell us about that choice.

In this book, it was important to me to give every character a dark, unseemly side. There are no white knights in A Plot for Pridemore. I think the relationship with Angela tells us a lot about Pete. He is twenty two years old or so, technically an adult. However, there is a blind spot in his moral character. Maybe it is immaturity, or maybe Pete is just hard wired to do things that most of us would resist. To me, that makes Pete more interesting than just being an unhappy guy who writes newspaper stories.  

5. Digby seems to be quite the under-achieving pawn in all of this. Do we undersell Digby to our peril or is he the pawn that he seems? 

Oh, I think Digby definitely has his own agenda. He may not be attuned to everything that is going on, but he has some awareness. He has his own way of manipulating others. 

An Interview with Terry Kay

Today is National Tell a Story Day and so it is fitting that we talk to a man who is a master story-teller. Below is a short interview with the insightful, the artful Terry Kay.


1. Do you have a theory of the novel, that is, an idea about how a novel works differently than other forms or what explains the power novels can have over reader?
A quote from G. K. Chesterton comes to mind: “A good novel tells us the truth about its hero, but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.” I like that.

A novel is a grand metaphor for whatever the reader finds in it. The characters provide the options, the writer provides the words, the reader gives it meaning. Few other forms demand so much of the imagination from the person at the end of the line.

2. You have often said that The Book of Marie is particularly special to you. Tell us why.
There are few stories of the Civil Rights movement that represent, or explore, the experiences of young white Southerners of that period, either in rural or urban settings, and that is what I wanted The Book of Marie to examine. I have always believed that the grand anthem of the movement—We Shall Overcome—was meant as much for young white Southerners as for blacks. I was in my teens and early twenties during that time and I understood that whites—especially those of my generation — had to overcome a history of oppression toward other races. We had to overcome conditioning. We had to overcome the political and social and spiritual environments that promoted a segregated world with deep-rooted prejudice and stubborn convictions. I think my book tells that story—at least in part.

3. The Seventh Mirror and To Whom the Angels Spoke are departures from your more traditional work. Were there challenges writing for a younger audience?
Perhaps it’s because I have limited experience in the field, but I feel more constrained in the writing of children’s material. In a long work of fiction, a writer might hide a million sins of writing (and all writers do it), but in children’s books, you don’t have that hide-behind coverage. The children will catch your tricks, and they will call you on the failures of doing it right. In long adult fiction, the words are so many the weight of them on the story can be feather light; in children’s literature, each word means something and each word has an almost delicate weight.

4. It’s almost taken for granted that Southern writers are influenced by a sense of place. Do you feel this is true for you or is there some other aspect of your life that permeates your work?
Southern writers, in my view, are heavily influenced not only by place, but equally so by family, by oral history (gossip), and by religion. This is especially true of character-driven material. Also, there’s this peculiar nature about stories with Southern settings: the same story, with the same circumstance, can be offered as character driven or as caricature driven. Regrettably, much of the perception of Southern literature is that of caricature, a sort of Beverly Hillbillies take on things.

5. You once called John Steinbeck America’s finest writer. Do you still feel that way and what’s the real power behind his writing?
I also think Ty Cobb was the greatest baseball player who ever lived, and here is why: I am from Royston, Georgia, Ty Cobb’s hometown. I was reared with the influence of his presence in that region of my imagination titled Sport. The same is true of Steinbeck. His work was the first great influence in my affection for literature. And there’s the other thing: the man could write. My God, the man could write. In comparison, most writers I’ve read were talented dispensers of words. Steinbeck understood that he was a medium for his characters, rather than his characters being a medium for him.



BookOfMarie    SeventhMirror    Cuttercane    Bogmeadow

A Plot for Pridemore off to the Mill!

What a lovely day to spend time with the Ferrol Sams Award winners!

Roth_Pridemore_tbnl Also, we are off to the press with Stephen Roth’s 2012 Award winner, with mighty fine praise here:

“I’d about given up hope on ever reading a new writer with that beautifully dry and irreverent tone delivered by some of my favorite writers—Charles Portis, James Wilcox, and John Kennedy Toole. But Stephen Roth has found the key and done the trick. You’ll bathe in the fresh humor and the humanity of Roth’s new novel, A Plot for Pridemore.”

—Clyde Edgerton, author of Walking across Egypt, The Night Train, and other books

Enter discount code MUPNEWS when you order at the Press’s website and receive a 20% discount plus free USPS Media Mail shipping on your entire order!


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