North Carolina author Miriam Herin typically begins the writing process with a plot in mind, but finds literary richness in the detours she takes.
“My initial idea for a novel usually comes from a character or place, a striking image, a question to which I would like an answer, or some intriguing moment from history,” she says.
“But once a novel is underway, I’m often amazed by the direction the story takes.”
Herin’s most recent book, “A Stone for Bread” (Livingston Press) took a similar path. It is the story of a North Carolina man caught up in the horrors of war and the frustrations of passionate love when he lives in Paris during the aftermath of World War II. “Before I wrote a word … I had decided it would be about a writer and a controversy over a manuscript.”
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A recent stint in France prompted her to use 20th-century Europe as a setting. “As I began researching the time and place, an image came to me, seemingly from nowhere, of a little boy who in the innocence of childhood causes the death of his brother,” she said.
“This became the opening chapter of the novel. From that tragedy – its true culprit is not the child but the war – the novel evolved into a tale of human evil, corruptibility and weakness, courage and resilience, and the place of art as a witness and interpreter of horrific events.”
“A Stone for Bread” was named in March as a Kirkus Indie Books of the Month selection. Award-winning novelist and poet Joseph Bathanti calls it “a supremely ambitious book from a thoroughly gifted writer.”
Herin, who has logged 35 years as a professional writer and producer, has taught college-level composition and literature and worked as an editor for Good Housekeeping magazine and the Winston-Salem Journal. She lives in Greensboro.
Michael W. Clark’s fantasy, “Wellspring” (Tate Publishing), is the story of centuries of drought in the Kingdom of Rapture. Rumors of a water source that could revive the kingdom lead to a race between earthbound and noble to find the wellspring and shift the balance of power forever. Clark, a Marine veteran, lives with his family in Wake Forest. In his spare time, he enjoys doing science experiments with his five children.
Arthur Benavie’s “How the Drug War Ruins American Lives” (Praeger) examines how “policing for profit” has escalated the drug war in the United States since the 1980s. “The book also explores how racism – the widespread stereotyping of drug traffickers as African-Americans and Latinos – infects every aspect of the war on drugs,” he says. Benavie is an emeritus professor of economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“Minnesota” (Arrie Publishing) is Nick Knardirell’s first in a two-book crime series. In “Minnesota,” central character Fuada narrates from prison the juicy details of her life as the head of notorious crime family. Knardirell, a North Carolina native, says she began writing short stories and poems at age 6 while staying home from school with chicken pox.
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