The tour kicked off Monday, Aug. 19th, at The Muffin and will conclude Friday, Sept. 13th, at Margo L. Dill. A complete schedule of the tour is listed below. Thanks to Elaine and the lovely Crystal at WOW, I have a copy of A SOUTHERN PLACE to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for the details.
First, a brief synopsis of A SOUTHERN PLACE and then Elaine shares her thoughts on ‘Reading in the New South.’
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.
The first “grown-up” book I read was Gone With the Wind: Pretty racy stuff for a sixth-grader, but I fell in love. Beautiful dresses, colorful dialogue, and more “bedroom scenes” than my mother’s soap operas—I must have read and re-read GWTW five times that year, the “juicy parts” read even more than that.
Like many southern writers, it was To Kill A Mockingbird that made me swear a secret allegiance to one day write my own southern story. No matter what the decade, it seems that southern writers have seen, heard, or been a part of some Deep South injustice that we feel a need to right, if only by writing about it. My first book, written some years previous to my first published book, is such a story, as are many other southern first-books that I can recall: John Grisham’s A Time To Kill, Pat Conroy’s The Water Is Wide, Anne River Siddons’ Homeplace, and recently, Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, to name a few. Is it because we actually experience more injustice, is the South really still so “far behind,” or are Southern children just more sensitive about issues other areas have forgotten about? I’d love to know the answer, if there is one, yet I believe the answers are many and will grow in number as new generations come and go.
Working in a public library branch in the early 80s, 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.
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.
In recent years, a further re-classification has entered the southern realm, referred to by some as “grit lit.” This poignant, graphic, in-your-face writing some feel began with Faulkner, but no doubt has grown and multiplied powerfully through the likes of Harry Crews, Larry Brown, and Daniel Woodrell. Softer-spoken vigilantes Silas House, Chris Offutt, newcomer and poet Ron Rash help to fill in this genre with a plethora of strong voices across the southern states.
There’s a book called “Liberating Paris” by Linda Bloodworth Thompson (who also wrote the TV series “Designing Women”) that has forever made me want to write about where I grew up. In A SOUTHERN PLACE, I wanted to do for my part of South Georgia what she did for the fictional town of Paris, Louisiana, if that’s possible. Writers of the New South seem to all have region-specific tales that explain the universal human condition through the eyes of their own “special place.” As personal and political situations change, so do these stories, however they all speak from the heart and work towards painting pictures of their homelands in a different light.
Which authors share your feelings about current living in the New South? Which ones don’t? Is there a certain writer that makes you feel as though he/she knows the very lives of your community? If not, what people, or lifestyles, or current events would you LIKE to see chronicled in New South literature?
Elaine, thanks so much for joining us today. Your take on New Southern reading is quite intriguing. Living in the South myself, I can agree with you on so many of these authors and their works.
Now a bit about Elaine:
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.
For more on Elaine and her writing, visit her blog or contact with her on Facebook.
To enter this giveaway, please send me an e-mail (email@example.com) with the subject line, “Win A Southern Place.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. only for a print copy and international for an eBook. If you’re entering for the eBook copy, please note the email address you’d like it sent to. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance to win a copy of A SOUTHERN PLACE is 8 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday, Sept. 17.
Here’s a listing of Elaine’s tour schedule. Be sure to check out the numerous sites for more information on Elaine, her writing and a chance to win a copy of A SOUTHERN PLACE. Some giveaways may already be closed.
* Monday, August 19 @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview and book giveaway!
* Wednesday, August 21 @ Found Between the Covers
Win a copy of A Southern Place by Elaine Drennon Little and read what Sherrey Meyer has to say in her honest review of this first novel by a talented new voice in southern fiction. http://foundbetweenthecovers.wordpress.com/
* Thursday, August 22 @ Steph the Bookworm
Get in on the giveaway and join Stephanie as she reviews Elaine Drennon Little’s first novel, A Southern Place. http://www.stephthebookworm.com/
* Friday, August 23 @ CMash Reads
Don't miss today's giveaway and book review for Elaine Drennon Little's A Southern Place #ASPLittle!
* Saturday, August 24 @ Memoir Writer’s Journey
Kathleen Pooler reviews and shares her thoughts on A Southern Place and offers readers her insight as well as a giveaway. Don’t miss this stop!
* Monday, August 26 @ Books I Think You Should Read
Find out what Elizabeth Parker has to say after reading Elaine Drennon Little's debut novel, A Southern Place and don't miss out on this great giveaway! http://booksithinkyoushouldread.blogspot.com/
* Tuesday, August 27 @ Renee’s Pages
Don’t miss Elaine Drennon Little and her guest post about “Southern Fiction” and this giveaway for Elaine’s fabulous southern fiction novel titled A Southern Place. http://www.reneespages.blogspot.com/
* Wednesday, August 28 @ Bette Lee Crosby
Elaine Drennon Little visits the website of fellow author Bette Lee Crosby and Elaine discusses “Literary Fiction” and offers a giveaway of her debut novel A Southern Place. http://betteleecrosby.com/
* Tuesday, September 2 @ All Things Audry
Don't miss your chance to win a copy of A Southern Place and enjoy a guest post by author, Elaine Drennon Little as she shares “My Favorite Authors/Favorite Books” http://allthingsaudry.blogspot.com/
* Wednesday, September 3 @ Tiffany Talks Books
Join Elaine Drennon Little as she visits Tiffany Talks Books for a promo post, guest post about "Arts in Schools" and a giveaway for her debut novel A Southern Place!
* Wednesday, September 4 @ My Fiction Nook
Now is your chance - be part of the giveaway for this fabulous Southern Fiction Novel and hear from Elaine Drennon Little as she chats about her experience with “Reading Among Farm Families” and shares more about her first novel, A Southern Place. This is a post you won’t want to miss!
* Friday, September 6 @ I’d So Rather Be Reading
Elaine Drennon Little shares her thoughts on Book Clubs in Schools and offers a giveaway of her debut novel, A Southern Place. This is a stop you won't want to miss!
* Monday, September 9 @ Mom-E-Centric
Elaine Drennon Little lets us in on her thoughts about “Free Writing vs. Controlled” and a chance for the giveaway of her newly released novel, A Southern Place!
* Thursday, September 12 @ Words from the Heart
Hear from author of A Southern Place (#ASPLittle) as Elaine Drennon Little shares her thoughts about “Creative arts Programs in Schools”
* Friday, September 13 @ Margo L. Dill
Find out what Margo is thinking after reading A Southern Place by Elaine Drennon Little and be sure to participate in the giveaway for this debut novel!
A SOUTHERN PLACE, published by WiDo Publishing, is available as a 294 page paperback and as an eBook from Amazon. The Twitter hashtag is #ASPLittle.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you enjoy Southern-theme books?