“It’s like communion,” said Sierra Nevada College English Chair June Saraceno, on the Moonpies treats the author of The Lost Saints of Tennessee, Amy Franklin-Willis, brought to the second reading of Writers in the Woods series.
“The Moonpies are the favorite treat of one of the characters in the novel,” explained Franklin-Willis to the crowd of over 25 SNC students, faculty and visitors.
The event, which took place at 7 p.m. on Oct. 19 in SNC’s Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences, began with an explanation of the novel broken up by the author’s sarcasm and occasional sip of water that sent laughter throughout the room.
The reading itself focused on the main character in an intense, heat-pumping scenario where the place he has finally found purpose is being threatened by a tornado. Of course, the chapter ended mid-crisis, leaving the suspense unresolved.
“That’s the end of the chapter,” Franklin-Willis said, knowing exactly where she stopped the action, to the chagrin of the audience that craved more.
A Power-point presentation with pictures from the novel’s setting, Pocahontas, Tenn. followed the reading. As an eight-generation Southerner, Franklin-Willis made note of the importance in the draw to her father’s hometown and the sense of family ties she lost out on growing up in Birmingham, Ala.
“It was nice to walk on the same street my dad had walked on as a young boy, and where there was connection. There were roots there,” Franklin-Willis said on visiting Tennessee “And when my grandmother died it felt like a double loss, because we lost her, the matriarch of our family, and we lost the place.”
A brief question and answer between Franklin-Willis and the audience ensued.
“Can you tell me how you went about your revision process?” said one audience member.
To which Franklin-Willis instructed, “I don’t know how you work, but I don’t really know what the story is until I finish the first draft. So it’s a very instructive process, that first draft. And now you have to look at the piece, and find out what is the best way to tell the story. You just have to keep chipping away at the beautiful story that’s in there.”
Another student asked, “How do you go from being a good writer to a good author?”
Franklin-Willis offered answers such as their different skillsets, how a good editor can be a miracle to the circle of people in the writers life that have read the work a million times, having your novel read by actual readers and starting your next book immediately.
A quote that prominently stood out during the evening was Franklin-Willis’s, “if you’re writing than you’re a writer. If you’re talking about writing you are not a writer.”
After the event Franklin-Willis stayed to converse with the attendees and sign copies of her book, prompting excitement for her workshop scheduled for the next day, Saturday, Oct. 20.
The workshop helped many SNC students and local writers find innovative ways to go about their pieces.
“I didn’t know what to expect going into the workshop. I just knew that [Franklin-Willis] would have great advice on some areas I’ve been struggling with in some of my writing,” said Sophomore Emily Provencher. “I’m really glad I got the chance to share some of my work with a brilliant author. It’s too bad so many writers out there don’t have the same opportunities I do.”