Literary Notes: Local Author Goes to Carrboro
Ask most owners of advertising agencies about their latest book and most will look at you like you're from outside the solar system. Write books? They don't have the time or energy.
Not so with Jonathan Scott, founder of award-winning Lotus Advertising, now in its 25th year, and author of an historically accurate novel, "Woman in the Wilderness." The plot is populated by a religious cult, with shadowy, mysterious characters. Scott is a Moore County resident.
Think Stephen King visits Benjamin Franklin. The difference? Scott's tale really happened.
Scott's research for "Woman in the Wilderness" is the topic of a free presentation on Sunday, Feb. 25 at 3:30 p.m. at Carrboro's Market Street Books, 610 Market St. His groundbreaking work unearthed previously unknown facts about Johannes Kelpius, a Transylvanian mystic and spiritualist who created a cult that spent time in caves (still inside Philadelphia's city limits and boarded up for more than a century) . Lingering loose ends have fascinated religious historians and others, like Scott, for years and may be the topic of an upcoming "History Detectives" program.
After Kelpius's disappearance, all that remains are riveting legends and a 16h century astronomical device hidden in plain view today in a museum founded by Franklin. The device remains a mystery to this day--its origins and use by Kelpius and even its very existence having been questioned by experts until Scott presented it as part of his research.
"The Moore County Literacy Council needs you," says a spokesman. "Twenty-two percent of the citizens of Moore County read below a basic level. Could you share an hour of your time to help someone learn to read?"
Volunteer orientation will take place at the MCLC Wednesday, March 7, from 5 to 6 p.m.
Those of you that wish to continue can attend the 12 hours of training Saturday, March 17, and Saturday, March 24, from 9 a.m to 4 p.m.
Call Pam at 692-5954 to register and receive more information.
Award-winning authors Pinckney and Laura Benedict have edited an anthology called "Surreal South," scheduled for publication this fall by Winston-Salem publisher, Press 53.
"We're defining the term 'surreal' quite broadly," say the Benedicts, "to include dream stories, horror stories, monster stories, insanity, magical realism, the distorted, the peculiar, the impossible, the irrational. We have as part of our mandate some small reconciliation between so-called 'genre' fiction and so-called 'literary' fiction.
"We're also defining 'southern' broadly, simply to mean that the contributors to the collection need to be associated with the geographical South (born, living, spent time in prison or otherwise dallied somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line), or the material needs to be set in or derived from the South. The anthology will consist of fiction, mostly short stories (and some novel excerpts that have narrative integrity), and poetry. Contributing writers to the project will have pulled out of the closet some of their most peculiar, gruesome, and funny fantasies."
"Surreal South" is the brainchild of Princeton University and Iowa Writers' Workshop graduate Pinckney Benedict. He is the author of two story collections, "Town Smokes" and "The Wrecking Yard," and a novel "Dogs of God," all three of which were named New York Times Notable Books. His stories and essays have been widely published in such journals and anthologies as Esquire, Zoetrope All-Story, the O. Henry Award series, the New Stories from the South series, Ontario Review, the Pushcart Prize series, and "The Oxford Book of American Short Stories."
He has been awarded literary fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts, and a Michener Fellowship from the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa. Other honors include Britain's Steinbeck Award, the Chicago Tribune's Nelson Algren Award, and two Transatlantic Review Awards. He is the director of the Tinker Mountain Writers' Workshop at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, and teaches creative writing at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. Two new books, "Miracle Boy," a collection of short stories, and "Wild Bleeding Heart," a novel, are set for release in 2008 by Nan A. Talese.
"I have always been inappropriately fascinated by the dark side of human nature," Laura Benedict writes in her Web site bio (www.laurabenedict.com).
"As a teenager, my favorite books were Jane Eyre, anything by Stephen King, and a seriously wicked Harold Robbins novel called 'The Lonely Lady,'" she says.
Laura's essays and short stories exploring the darker side of life have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Best Mysteries of 2001 and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. For the past decade she has reviewed books for The Grand Rapids Press in Michigan. Her debut novel, a thriller titled "Isabella Moon," was purchased in a major deal with Ballantine and will be published in October with a second, untitled novel to follow in 2008. She has been the recipient of a West Virginia Arts and Humanities Fellowship Grant and a Greenbrier County Artist's Stipend. Later this year, her short story, "The Erstwhile Groom," will appear in Ellery Queen. Her last professional collaboration with her husband was as the writer of the teleplay adaptation of his short story, "Getting Over Arnette" for West Virginia Public Television.
"I learned a lot of interesting things about my husband working on that project," she says. "And we're still married!"
Early reports from the Benedicts indicate they've pulled together a celebrity line-up of writers to include Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Olen Butler, Ron Rash, Tom Franklin, Ann Pancake, Chris Offutt, Beth Ann Fennelly, Katie Estill, Jacinda Townsend, Greg Johnson, George Singleton, Lee K. Abbott, Julianna Baggott, Brad Vice, Benjamin Percy, Kyle Minor, William Gay, Dean Paschal, Daniel Woodrell, Ashley Warlick, Pinckney Benedict, Laura Benedict, Rodney Jones, Jon Tribble, Andrew Hudgins, and Winston-Salem poet Joy Beshears Hagy.
Surreal South is scheduled for publication Oct. 1.
The N.C. Writers' Network will sponsor two writing contests for North Carolina residents.
The Randall Jarrell Harperprints Poetry Chapbook Competition is open to any writer who is a legal resident of North Carolina and who has not published a full-length book of poems. (48 pages or more).
Questions may be directed to Joseph Bathanti of Appalachian State University via e-mail at email@example.com.
For further guidelines to these contests, visit the Web site www.ncwriter.org.
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