At last year's festival there was a fabulous discussion between noevlists Peter Geye and Steve Yates which focused largely on how both authors write about place, and how they create a sense that a story's setting becomes a character in its own right. Continuing that theme, this year we're pleased to welcome Susan Henderson and Melissa Scholes Young, both of whom have written exquisite novels set in small towns. Their books beautifully analyze the complex relationships that exist between their characters and the places where they grew up. Some people never leave, some are unable to stay away - it's all rendered with touching, pitch-perfect precision, which will resonate with readers everywhere.
Melissa's book, Flood, will be of particular interest to festival crowds as it is set in Hannibal, Missouri, and many will recognize both the place and the Mark Twain-related events that are weaved throughout the narrative. The town in Susan's novel, The Flicker of Old Dreams, is fictional (Petroleum, Montana) but is just as riveting. (And if you thought anywhere in Missouri was remote, think again!) Small towns play such an integral part to American life. Come and hear about how two brilliant novelists set about capturing their particular essence.
Susan Henderson is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize. She is the author of two novels, The Flicker of Old Dreams and Up from the Blue, both published by HarperCollins. Susan lives in New York and blogs at the writer support group, LitPark.com.
Melissa Scholes Young is an award-winning author from Hannibal, Missouri, which she proudly claims as her hometown. Her writing has appeared in the Atlantic, Washington Post, Narrative, Ploughshares, and Poets & Writers. She’s a Contributing Editor for Fiction Writers Review and Editor of the anthology Grace in Darkness. She teaches at American University in Washington, D.C. and lives in Maryland with her family. FLOOD is her first novel. You can visit her at www.melissascholesyoung.com.