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Archive for the tag “Stephen Roth”

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.

MUP Rocks the Cover of Publishers Weekly

Mercer University Press rocks the four-page cover of today’s issue of Publishers Weekly in celebration of 35 years of publishing excellence.

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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. 

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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