There are two questions about writing I’m asked more than others. “What made you want to start?” or, “Why did you start?” I wish I could say, “I’ve known since I was old enough to hold a pencil I’d be a writer,” or “those voices in my head insist I write.” That seems a more likely view of how it possibly began for many. I was no different, perhaps, than any other person before I started in how I viewed The Author. The Author was a reclusive, distressed soul with an unlimited supply of alcohol at their elbow, compelled to write for days on end, only surfacing long enough to eat in order to stay alive. That’s definitely more interesting than how I began.
I started writing based on two simple facts. One, I love to read. So do many people, yet they aren’t compelled to start writing a book, so, what’s the difference? I can’t answer that, but at some point, I realized I’d begun to read critically, forming opinions about plot, style and word choices. I thought, I wonder if I could do this. As family life and work took over, reading time was greatly reduced because of obligations. One day I bought a book considered southern fiction. The characters reminded me of myself, my family, and the places I come from, they “spoke” my language. Eventually, those writers were the ones who inspired me more than anyone else, the ones who moved me enough to seriously consider what had been a distant idea.
The second reason (believe it or not) was to see if I could. I’ve been like this all my life. Growing up, I’d climb to the top of the tallest tree, swing out over a rocky creek on a frayed rope, or jump my bike, Evil Knievel style, over a ditch, only to see if I could. I survived my daredevil childhood, yet the need for a challenge, something to achieve always remained. I became a runner in my late twenties, and that became a passion. I ran 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons and eventually two marathons. I still run today, but my need to do what seems impossible has been fulfilled in another way – with writing.
The thing is, when I make up my mind to pursue a goal, I tend to have tunnel vision. After reading as much southern fiction as I could find, it became a mission to write like my literary heroes, to craft a book worthy of publication. Many thought I was stuck in a pipe dream, spending all this time on something that would never happen. There were times I thought so too. Nevertheless, I kept at it with the usual doggedness. The day I received an email telling me my first book sold was unlike any other moment in my life. But, I already knew I was hooked because I’d written two other books by then – you know, just to see if I could.
Set in the Carolinas in the 1940s, The Road to Bittersweet is a beautifully written, evocative account of a young woman reckoning not just with the unforgiving landscape, but with the rocky emotional terrain that leads from innocence to wisdom.
For fourteen-year-old Wallis Ann Stamper and her family, life in the Appalachian Mountains is simple and satisfying, though not for the tenderhearted. While her older sister, Laci—a mute, musically gifted savant—is constantly watched over and protected, Wallis Ann is as practical and sturdy as her name. When the Tuckasegee River bursts its banks, forcing them to flee in the middle of the night, those qualities save her life. But though her family is eventually reunited, the tragedy opens Wallis Ann’s eyes to a world beyond the creek that’s borne their name for generations.
Carrying what’s left of their possessions, the Stampers begin another perilous journey from their ruined home to the hill country of South Carolina. Wallis Ann’s blossoming friendship with Clayton, a high diving performer for a traveling show, sparks a new opportunity, and the family joins as a singing group. But Clayton’s attention to Laci drives a wedge between the two sisters. As jealousy and betrayal threaten to accomplish what hardship never could—divide the family for good—Wallis Ann makes a decision that will transform them all in unforeseeable ways . . .
Praise For Donna Everhart’s The Education Of Dixie Dupree An Indie Next List Selection!
“Please open your heart to Dixie Dupree. With unflinching honesty and a voice that rings with authenticity, she survives the unthinkable. Her story celebrates the resiliency of the human spirit and the triumph of the imagination. An important novel, beautifully written, this is a story to cherish.” Susan Wiggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“Young Dixie Dupree is an indomitable spirit in this coming-of-age novel that is a heartbreaking and honest witness to the resilience of human nature and the fighting spirit and courage residing in all of us.” –The Huffington Post
“A searingly honest coming of age story with a heroine unlike any other I’ve met in a long time. I read this book through from start to finish in one sitting, simply unable and unwilling to put it down. Here’s to another beautiful novel from Donna Everhart.” –Holly Chamberlin, author of Home for the Summer
“Secrets, lies, peach cobbler, grits, a hot Alabama sun, and a girl named Dixie Dupree who shows courage in the face of betrayal, strength when all falls down around her, and shining hope in the darkness. This is a story you’ll read well into the night.” –Cathy Lamb, author of The Language of Sisters
“A poignant coming of age novel as gritty as red Alabama dirt. Dixie Dupree will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.” –Colleen Faulkner, author of Finding Georgina
“In a powerful coming of age story that pitches southern charm against dark family secrets, the voice of 11 year old Dixie Dupree captivates from the first page to the last.” Barbara Claypole White, bestselling author of The Perfect Son