NEHS Featured Speaker
Saturday, March 1
Southern writer Gin Phillips (Ginny Phillips Ashe) grew up in Montgomery, Alabama. At Birmingham-Southern College where she earned a degree in Political Journalism, she was a member of Beta Pi, the Sigma Tau Delta chapter on campus. Thus, we have a proud "Deltan" as the NEHS-sponsored speaker for the convention in Savannah.
Phillips' first novel, The Well and the Mine, was published in 2008 and recognized as the Barnes and Noble Discover Award. Come In and Cover Me, a "compelling modern story of love and loss," was published in 2012. New in June, 2013, Phillips' first YA novel, The Hidden Summer, is now available, with more YA to follow.
When asked to share some thoughts in anticipation of the convention, Ms. Phillips said:
After The Hidden Summer, "[my] next middle-grade book will be released in late 2014. The leap to children's literature wasn't one [I] planned, but it has several perks: it's the most enjoyable way possible to spend long gaps waiting for editors to get back with comments on adults novels. There is something moving and magical about writing for people who are not analyzing or assessing—they just dive into books and enjoy the fall. There's a joy in reading like that—which most of us remember longingly—and a joy in writing for those readers."
Phillips' next adult novel "is set in a Utopian colony in Alabama in the early 1900s. It follows a boy and a girl who meet in the colony and wind up years later in Bar Harbor, ME. [Phillips'] own reading preferences include Richard Russo, Toni Morrison, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Ann Patchett, and Neil Gaiman. [Ms. Phillips'] also has founded a non-profit, Wordsmiths, a creative writing program for students in Birmingham, AL."
Excerpt from The Well and the Mine, the NEHS Common Reader for 2013-2014:
In 1931 Carbon Hill, a small Alabama coal-mining town, nine-year-old Tess Moore watches from the darkness of her back porch as an unknown woman lifts the cover off the family well and tosses a baby in without a word.
The town is stopped in its tracks by the crime, but it's Tess who feels the tragedy the most. She becomes plagued by nightmares and feels certain that the dead infant boy is reaching out to her. So her fourteen-year-old sister, Virgie, comes up with a plan to track down the Well Woman. The two make a list of all the women they know who delivered babies in the last six months and begin insinuating themselves into their suspects' lives. Their investigation doesn't yield an immediate answer, but it opens the sisters' eyes to the complications of life beyond their own household.
As Tess tries to unravel the mystery of the woman at the well, a portrait emerges of a family and a community struggling to survive the darkest of times. The Well and the Mine is a stunning novel about love, hope, and the importance of doing the right thing.