Susan Rivers will be the featured speaker at the regular meeting of the High Country Writers at the Watauga County Public Library on Thursday, April 12, 2018, at 10:00 am. She will also be doing a reading and book signing at the library at 2 pm on April 12. The programs are free and open to the public.
Her talk is titled Be Secret and Exult…Writing through the Doubt and the Difficulties. “For the fiction writer toiling away in anonymity, the publishing world can often seem like a rigged game, inscrutable and impenetrable,” she said. “The problem is that writers often waste a great deal of time and energy trying to understand what ‘they’ (the publishers) want, when we ought to be examining more closely what it is that engages our own imaginations and fires up our creative powers.” Rivers will share the discoveries she has made on what she describes as “her bumpy journey to publication and beyond,” explaining how Yeats’ admonition to a poet-friend frustrated by his lack of success to “be secret and exult” might be practical advice of the best kind.
Ms. Rivers began her writing career as a playwright, receiving the Julie Harris Playwriting Award and the New York Drama League Award, working as an NEA Writer-in-Residence in San Francisco, and being named as a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award for British and American Women Playwrights.
Fiction became her focus after moving to the Carolinas in 1995. She holds an MFA in Fiction-writing from Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina and was awarded a Regional Artist Grant from the Arts and Sciences Council there.
Her debut novel, The Second Mrs. Hockaday, published by Algonquin Books, was a People Magazine “Best New Books Pick,” a Woman’s Day “Editor’s Desk Pick” in 2017, an IndieNext, Library Reads and SIBA Winter OKRA Pick, and was selected by the online publication BookBrowse as one of The Best Books for Book Clubs in 2018. The novel was a finalist for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize 2017.
People Magazine called it “suspenseful and satisfying,” Woman’s Day described it as a “page-turner…meticulously researched and beautifully written,” Kirkus characterized it as “a compulsively readable work” and the Charlotte Observer called it “spellbinding.” Booklist, which gave the novel a starred review, wrote that “this galvanizing historical portrait of courage, determination and abiding love mesmerizes and shocks.”
Inspired by a true incident, this novel takes place at the conclusion of the American Civil War, when a young soldier’s wife in South Carolina goes on trial for murdering an infant she bore while her husband was far away, fighting with Lee’s army. Placidia Hockaday, the protagonist, struggles with the unraveling of the social order in her Southern homeland even as her views on race and family are transformed. A love story, a story of racial divide, and a story of the South as it fell in the war, The Second Mrs. Hockaday reveals how that generation — and the next — began to see their world anew.
Rivers lives with her husband in a former cotton-mill town in upstate South Carolina, where stories and stray animals are thick on the ground. None are turned away.
High Country Writers has been “energizing writers since 1995.” Regular meetings are at the Watauga County Public Library on the second and fourth Thursdays of most months from 10 am to noon, and speakers’ presentations are co-sponsored by the library. HCW members present writing / publishing skills workshops from 10 am to noon the first Thursday of most months, partnering with Watauga County Arts Council to offer them at Art Space. For more information and a current calendar, visit http://highcountrywriters.tripod.com/. If weather forces the library to close, this program will be cancelled. Guests are welcome. Membership is $15 annually.