ASHEVILLE—Heather Newton’s novel Under The Mercy Trees won the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award, was chosen by the Women’s National Book Association as a Great Group Reads Selection, and named an “Okra Pick” by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance.
Her short prose has appeared in Enchanted Conversation Magazine, The Drum, Dirty Spoon, and elsewhere. A practicing attorney, she teaches creative writing for UNC-Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program and is co-founder and Program Manager for the Flatiron Writers Room writers’ center in Asheville.
At the North Carolina Writers' Network 2019 Fall Conference, Heather will lead the fiction workshop "Thievery, Loss and Scars."
The NCWN 2019 Conference runs November 8-10 at the Doubletree by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore. Registration is open.
This year, NCWN has been celebrating libraries. As part of this year-long appreciation, Heather shared the following:
"I grew up in Raleigh. In the summer, the Bookmobile would come around. (It ran in Raleigh until 1972 when funding was cut, then resumed in the 1990s.) There was a limit on how many books you could check out. This is when having siblings came in handy (the only time when having siblings came in handy). There were four kids in my family. We could each check out ten books. That’s forty books. Yeah. When the Bookmobile wasn’t running, my mother packed us all in our VW bus and took us to the Richard B. Harrison library on New Bern Avenue which had a great collection of children’s books. There, as well, I believe there was a limit to how many you could check out. Siblings. Forty books. Yeah.
"My mother was a children’s book author. That got her (still does) special treatment from the librarians in town and from our school librarians. In elementary school, I was allowed to leave class to go to the library, where Mrs. Mullins, our school librarian, let me check out whatever I wanted. I loved horses and would read any horse book I could get my hands on. I found The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis, which led me to the other Chronicles of Narnia. I still enjoy re-reading those books to this day. Other favorites were Blue Willow by Doris Gates and A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, illustrated with Tasha Tudor’s amazing watercolors. Our school library was open in the summer when school was out. I remember riding my bike the quarter mile to my school in summer and checking out The Arabian Nights and The Black Stallion. When I was in high school, Wake County created a public library at my high school, Athens Drive. I loved that the border between school and public libraries had dissolved.
"As a mom, I took my daughter to the Buncombe County libraries for story time and books. She’s twenty now and has lost her own library card somewhere in her messy room, so uses mine. She checks out stacks of books—graphic novels, memoirs, fiction—and promises she’ll turn them in before the fines accrue.
"I don’t mind paying the fines. I’m glad to have raised a daughter who loves a library."
Books on creative writing sometimes encourage you to interview our characters to get to know them, but does discovering that our character’s favorite color is blue and her favorite food is beef stroganoff really make our fiction better? In "Thievery, Loss and Scars: A Fiction Workshop," we’ll dig deep into our characters’ minds, memories, and emotions to force them to tell us the good stuff. Come prepared to write and share your work with others.
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. Jeremy B. Jones will lead the Master Class in Nonfiction. Other fiction offerings include sessions led by Kevin McIlvoy, Dale Neal, Tommy Hays, and more. Novelist Ron Rash will give the Keynote Address.
The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to all writers, in all genres, at all stages of development. For additional information, visit www.ncwriters.org.