As the founding executive director of the Decatur Book Festival, Daren Wang is known for promoting authors. Now with the publication of his debut novel, The Hidden Light of Northern Fires, he’s become an author himself.
The book is set in Town Line, N.Y., the only community north of the Mason-Dixon Line to secede from the Union, and it traces the story of Mary Willis, an abolitionist in a town of bounty hunters and anti-Union farmers. When an escaped slave collapses in her father’s barn, Mary is determined to help him cross to freedom in nearby Canada. Charles Frazier, author of Cold Mountain describes the novel as being “a distinctive clear-eyed perspective on a fresh corner of the Civil War.”
Another Decatur author, Stacia Pelletier, crafts a love-triangle story set in 19th century San Francisco called Half Wives. A wife and a mistress vie for the attentions of Henry, a lapsed Lutheran pastor. One mourns a child lost in a crib death; the other must rescue her 8-year-old child from a saltwater well. The author compresses their complicated relationships into a 24-hour period, but that single day reveals a lifetime of secrets.
Border Child, by Spartanburg, S.C., author Michel Stone, is a timely novel about immigration and the toll it takes on a family. Young lovers Héctor and Lilia dreamed of a brighter future for their children in the U.S. but they lost track of their infant daughter during an attempted border crossing. Four years later, they receive an unexpected tip that might lead them to their daughter and they agree they must seize this chance, whatever the cost.
Atlanta author Emily Carpenter used to be an assistant on the set of soap operas and once dreamed of writing for the daytime dramas. The form failed to capture her imagination, so she set her sights on writing Southern gothic novels instead. The Weight of Lies is set in the fictional town of Bonny Island, Ga., and is about a young woman who investigates the 40-year-old murder that inspired her mother’s bestselling novel and uncovers a series of lies that might threaten her life.
Anna Schachner grew up in Augusta and went on to edit the prestigious literary journal, The Chattahoochee Review. Her debut novel, You and I and Someone Else, is about a young woman, Frannie, who has a less-than-ideal family situation. Her father is a carnival barker for a gorilla woman and her mother has built up years of resentment over her husband’s nomadic lifestyle. Frannie gets pregnant and is determined to provide a less dysfunctional life for her own child, but secrets from the past make that difficult.
Meet Wang, Pelletier, Stone, Carpenter, and Schachner at the Berry Fleming Book Festival on Sept. 23 at the Augusta University Summerville campus. They are five of more than 50 authors who will appear at the event.
MEMORIES OF LOCAL VETERANS. The tragedies and triumphs of World War II come to life through the words of 147 local veterans in In Their Own Words – Augusta and Aiken Area Veterans Remember World War II.
The veterans were part of the National Veterans History Project that the Augusta Richmond County Historical Society has been participating in since 2007. Area academics Dr. Jim Garvey, Dr. Douglas Higbee and Dr. Hubert van Tuyll edited the work. They will appear at the Augusta Museum of History from 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 12. For more information, visit www.thearchs.org.