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NC Literary Hall of Fame



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Philip Gerard is the author of nine books of fiction and nonfiction, including Down the Wild Cape Fear (2013) and The Patron Saint of Dreams, the winner of 2012 Gold Medal for Essay/Creative Nonfiction from the Independent Publisher. He teaches in the Department of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Gerard will lead the Creative Nonfiction Master Class at the North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference. One of the hardest things for a nonfiction writer to do is to write a detailed, dramatic, factual scene of an event that actually happened, but that he or she was not present to witness. In this workshop, participants will address practical tools of the craft that can be applied to creating such vivid scenes—incorporating a method Gerard calls “triangulation” that uses corroborating, disparate sources to stage a moment of drama acted out by real people in a real place, while remaining loyal to the truthfulness of events. This workshop will look at how this technique can apply also to memoir, to scenes in which we as authors participated, bringing them to a heightened level of suspense and emotional engagement for the reader. In the end, the practical application of craft can lead to an artistic result.


What was your favorite book as a child?
It was and remains The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

If you weren’t a writer, what kind of job would you like to have?
I'd be on Willie Nelson's bus playing side-man.

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wished they had?
Be active and tuned in to your publisher—selling the book is the beginning, not the end, of the process.

Any memorable rejections?
A publisher once wrote of a novel: "I loved this book. It's the book I would want to get under the Christmas tree and would buy copies of for all my friends. Unfortunately, it's not right for us."

Hemingway wrote standing up; Truman Capote wrote lying down. What posture do you write in?
Sitting in my writing study.

The Cape Fear Coast is a hotbed for the film industry. In your opinion, what has been the best book-to-screen adaptation?
Deliverance—but it wasn't made here.The director of photography managed to capture the poetry of the country as Dickey wrote it.

What was the worst?
The Prince of Tides: they left out the Prince of Tides.

Why do you feel it’s important for writers to attend conferences such as the NCWN Fall Conference?
Writing is solitary. It' s nice to get some encouragement from fellow travelers.

Do you have pet peeves as a reader? As a writer?
Bad punctuation, sloppy word choice, figurative language that seems contrived.

Are you scheduled in the time you set aside to write, or is your writing time more flexible than that?
You have to write like you practice a musical instrument—every day for a period of time.

Do you write to discover, or do you write point-to-point (for example, from an outline)?
Both. An outline is just a treasure map, and not necessarily an accurate one.

What was the first thing you ever published?
A short story called "The Hunters" in the University of Delaware literary magazine. I learned later that it was read out loud by summer campers on the Chesapeake Bay each session at the final campfire—the best audience I never knew.

Who is your favorite North Carolina author?
Ron Rash—for his lyrical intensity and respect for the craft and just plain great writing.


Registration for the NCWN 2013 Fall Conference is now open.


WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH—Registration for the 2013 North Carolina Writers' Network Fall Conference opens in just a few days. The weekend of November 15-17 is going to be packed with workshops, panels, readings, and more, all located at the Holiday Inn Resort in Wrighstville Beach. For writers of all stripes and experience levels, it's one of the most inspirational weekends of the year. And much of it is made possible by the generosity of sponsors.

The Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County will sponsor the Welcome Reception on Friday, November 15. Led by Executive Director Rhonda Bellamy, the Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County works to establish the region as an arts destination; promote arts-driven economic development; significantly contribute to quality of life in the region; provide a stream of funding to support the sustainability of artists and arts organizations; facilitate communication and collaboration within the arts community; and advocate for the arts at the local, state and national levels. They are now accepting applications for Regional Artist Project Grants from residents in New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender, and Columbus Counties through September 20.

That night, Clyde Edgerton will give the Keynote Address. This will be followed by a Booksgining and Reception, sponsored by Salt magazine.

Salt is more than a pretty lifestyle magazine. In every issue, they strive to create a magazine of uncommon literary and artistic vision that explores everything from the thriving arts community to their passion for homes and gardens. They celebrate the best of food and wine, and indulge their love of the outdoors. They showcase remarkable people who have shaped Wilmington's past and others who are busy creating its exciting future. Moreover, every issue presents outstanding short fiction and poetry, essays and features that touch the heart and stir the soul.

Saturday morning kicks off with the "Brilliant at Breakfast Panel Discussion: How to Work with a Publisher (So They Want To Work with You)." This panel is sponsored by the Wilmington-based Ecotone/Lookout Books.

Founded as the literary book imprint of the Department of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Lookout pledges to seek out emerging and historically underrepresented voices, as well as overlooked gems by established writers. They have published Edith Pearlman's Binocular Vision (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award); Steve Almond's God Bless America: Stories; and John Rybicki's When All the World Is Old: Poems, among others.

Their sister publication, Ecotone, is a semiannual journal that seeks to reimagine place. Contributors have included winners of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, as well as MacArthur, Guggenheim, and NEA fellows. But they're just as excited to provide a home for exciting new talents.

The Fayetteville-based Veterans Writing Collective will read during Saturday's luncheon. This event is sponsored by the longtime friend of the Network and member of the Board of Trustees, Al Manning. Al is also the Regional Rep for Chatham and Lee Counties, and facilitates Pittsboro's Writer's Morning Out, which meets the second Saturday of every month at Davenport & Winkleperry.

Later that day, Bellamy Mansion will sponsor the Faculty Readings. Bellamy Mansion is one of North Carolina's most spectacular examples of antebellum architecture built on the eve of the Civil War by free and enslaved black artisans, for John Dillard Bellamy (1817-1896) physician, planter and business leader; and his wife, Eliza McIlhenny Harriss (1821-1907) and their nine children. After the fall of Fort Fisher in 1865, Federal troops commandeered the house as their headquarters during the occupation of Wilmington.

Now the house is a museum that focuses on history and the design arts and offers tours, changing exhibitions, and an informative look at historic preservation in action.

Happy Hour immediately follows the Faculty Readings, and these libational sixty minutes are also sponsored by our friends at Salt magazine.

On Sunday morning, attendees will be treated to a second "Brilliant at Breakfast Panel Discussion" titled "Agents and Editors." This panel is sponsored by WHQR 91.3 FM Public Radio. WHQR supports and enhances the artistic life of this region in two basic ways: through their music and cultural programs on the air, and through the other events and promotions they offer. You can stream their station live here.

Registration for the 2013 North Carolina Writers' Network Fall Conference opens soon. Save the dates—and check soon for more information.


WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH—The North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference will be held at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort in Wrightsville Beach, November 15-17.

The Fall Conference attracts hundreds of writers from around the country and provides a weekend full of activities that include lunch and dinner banquets with readings, keynotes, tracks in several genres, open mic sessions, and the opportunity for one- on-one manuscript critiques with editors or agents. Conference faculty include professional writers from North Carolina and beyond.

Wilmington resident Clyde Edgerton will give the Keynote Address. Edgerton, a North Carolina native, is the author of five New York Times Notable Books and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Philip Gerard will lead the Master Class in Creative Nonfiction. Gerard is a professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and the author of, most recently, Down the Wild Cape Fear.

The Fiction Master Class will be led by Rebecca Lee. Winner of the 2013 Danuta Gleed Literary Award, Lee is the author of the short- story collection Bobcat and Other Stories. She earned her MFA from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and is an associate professor in the UNCW Creative Writing Program.

Peter Makuck will lead the Poetry Master Class. His 2010 poetry collection Long Lens: News & Selected Poems, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He is the Distinguished Professor Emeritus at East Carolina University.

Registration for the NCWN 2013 Fall Conference opens in early September. Save the date!

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