The Local Authors Book Fair is almost here! We’re so excited about our fabulous list of guests and hope all of you will come out to support our vibrant local writing community. We’re so fortunate to live in a place with so many talented locals!
To whet your appetite for the readings and book fair, we’ll be offering interviews with some of our guests across the next few days. Let’s meet Anna Jean Mayhew.
FOCPL: What should readers know before they pick up one of your books?
That I am first and foremost a Southern (USA) woman, inexorably connected to place; my writing always reflects my life growing up in the North Carolina Piedmont, both at the foot of the Appalachians and at the coast. I am drawn to stories set in the Jim Crow era, and I enjoy the research required by historical fiction.
FOCPL: If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
I used to tell people to be careful around me because they might wind up in one of my stories; however, over the years I’ve learned that such a warning isn’t necessary: if I do use people as models for my characters, they never recognize themselves in my work.
FOCPL: What part of writing brings you joy? What part do you struggle with?
Revision, hands down; I’ve often quoted Ray Bradbury, who I heard at an SF convention in 1985; when asked about his writing habit he said, “I throw up in the morning and I clean up in the afternoon.” The cleaning up part of writing is what I find most fun. The first draft is always my hardest, can take me years; then the revision comes so easily.
FOCPL: What do you dream about when it comes to your writing life?
Fame and fortune, doesn’t everyone? But while fame and fortune would be nice, I dream more about making a difference through my writing, of opening someone’s eyes when it comes to the social issues that are at the core of my novels.
FOCPL: Have you had any important mentors in your writing life?
My first novel is dedicated: “for Jean-Michel and for Laurel.” Jean-Michel is my husband, and while he has been incredibly influential in terms of helping me make space in my life for my writing, my true mentor is Laurel Goldman. For 32 years she has led the group of writers with whom I meet every Thursday morning in Chapel Hill. She’s handed me Kleenex when I cry and has laughed with me in moments of joy; her brilliant and always well-meaning critique has given me the equivalent of an MFA in writing.