Appalachia is a land uniquely haunted by the past, and the figure of the ghost in its literature often dramatizes this experience of the ever-present past in the lives of Appalachians. Ghosts also appear in oral traditions from the area, and not a few Appalachian writers have been influenced and inspired by the region’s lore.
Melanie K. Hutsell will discuss Ghosts and Appalachian Literature along with her debut novel, The Dead Shall Rise, at 7 p.m., Monday, October 30, 2017 at the Blount County Public Library.
Hutsell will share how family stories, an interest in folklore, and experiencing her Appalachian heritage led her to write The Dead Shall Rise. The novel is set in the fictional mountain village of Beulah Creek, where ordinary inhabitants are unsettled by a woman stranger who seeks shelter from a mysterious past and moves into the town’s haunted house.
Speaking of The Dead Shall Rise, Silas House (author of Clay’s Quilt and A Parchment of Leaves), says: “This is the highest caliber of storytelling in the tradition of Thomas Hardy or Lee Smith …. The Dead Shall Rise is a beauty.”
A native of Kingsport, Tennessee, Melanie K. Hutsell grew up listening to family stories of ghosts and tales of recalcitrant women. She says, “A life-transforming discovery from my childhood—that the lyrics to Peter, Paul, and Mary’s song, “The Three Ravens,” appear in a book of ballads—propelled me forever into the magic realm where literature, music, and folklore converge.”
Hutsell’s short fiction has appeared in Appalachian Heritage, Still: The Journal, Chantwood Magazine, Trajectory, and the Knoxville Writers’ Guild anthology, Outscape: Writings on Fences and Frontiers. She has also published poetry in The Sow’s Ear and contributed to the Encyclopedia of Folklore and Literature, edited by Brown and Rosenberg.
Hutsell holds a BA in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MA in English from Indiana University at Bloomington. An avid reader and music lover, she currently lives in Maryville, Tennessee, in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.
Book cover image from Amazon’s product catalog.
Free and open to the public, this program is hosted by Blount County Public Library, 508 N. Cusick St., Maryville, TN 37804. For more information about programs and services, visit the library website.