Saturday! 2/22/20! Join us to welcome our next guest Sharon Short (pen name; Jess Montgomery), a Dayton author whose background includes being a newspaper columnist for the Dayton Daily News, writer-in-residence at Thurber House, former director of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop, three-time recipient of an Ohio Arts Council grant, and published author of several mysteries, including The Kinship series (Minotaur Books) which she’ll be discussing at our upcoming meeting. Where, you ask? Upper Arlington Library (2800 Tremont Road, Upper Arlington), Meeting Room B, at 12:30 p.m.. And just to give you a taste of what we’ll be talking about, BCW asked Sharon some questions about writing, her most recent series, and her love of pie . . . be there to learn more, and join us for lunch afterwards.
BCW: So you’ve got two books out now in The Kinship series (congrats, btw): The Widows (2019) and The Hollows (2020). Both take place in Appalachian Ohio during the 1920’s and center on Lily Ross, the female sheriff of a small town who got the position after the former sheriff (also her husband) was killed. Note: this is also based on an actual event from that time period. What made you think of this as the story you wanted to write?
Sharon: I happened upon the story of Ohio’s true first female sheriff when I was researching hiking areas for a visit to our daughter, who attended Ohio University. I was struck by the notion of a female sheriff in the mid-1920s in a rural area, and that inspired my version, loosely based on the true first female sheriff. Additionally, my family of origin is from Appalachia — one county in Eastern Kentucky — on both sides. I’m the first Ohioan! So, though I consider myself a child of Appalachia in how I was reared and my childhood experiences, I was not geographically born in Appalachia, so I somehow thought I couldn’t write an Appalachian setting. Finding this story gave me a sense of not just permission to do so, but “coming home.”
BCW: You’re a fan of Daniel Woodrell (confession; same here). His books take place in Ozark culture and involve dirty, gritty, dark scenarios, comparable to William Gay, Donald Ray Pollock, or Cormac McCarthy. Also very “male.” By contrast, Annie Proulx also writes in this style. Would you compare yourself to any of these authors, or is it something different?
Sharon: Oh my. These are such terrific authors. I would not compare myself, though I’m honored if others do. I’ve also been compared to Sharyn McCrumb and Louise Penny for evoking setting. I’ll definitely take those comparisons too!
BCW: Do you plan on more novels in this time period? What else would you like to explore?
Sharon: I am contracted through books three and four in the Kinship series–hurrah! I’d love to write more beyond that as well, if I’m so blessed. My imagination tends toward mid-century U.S., but I can also envision exploring other eras and areas.
BCW: Finally, your blog features a pie of the month. Fess up: which is your favorite?
Sharon: To bake: French Coconut, Buttermilk, or Sugar Shaker. So easy, and always a pleasure. I enjoy eating any of those, but also like French apple and chocolate cream — those are more difficult but so tasty! (You didn’t think I’d stick to one variation, did you?)