A Sampling of Virginia Writers

Sherryl Woods

Trinity Harbor, Virginia, is in an uproar when spinster Daisy Spencer takes in a wild ten-year-old boy and starts to play "Mom." But Walker Ames, the boy's D.C. cop uncle, shows up, looking for a chance to play "Dad" for his nephew. Daisy and Walker are opposites in every way. If Daisy could only keep her thoughts about that man away from those of marriage and love.

David Baldacci

In a heavily guarded mansion in a posh Virginia suburb, a man and a woman start to make love, trapping Luther Whitney, a career break-in artist, behind a secret wall. Then the passion turns deadly, and Luther is running into the night. Because what he has just seen is a brutal murder involving Alan Richmond, the president of the United States, the man with . . . Absolute Power.

Adriana Trigiani

It's 1978, and 35-year-old Ave Maria Mulligan is about to discover a skeleton in her own family's tidy closet that will blow the lid right off her quiet, uneventful life. This is the first of a trilogy about people in Big Stone Gap, Virginia.

Russell Baker
"Russell Baker is the 1979 Pulitzer Prize winner for Distinguished Commentary and a columnist for The New York Times. This book traces his youth in Loudon County, Virginia. When Baker was only five, his father died. His mother, strong-willed and matriarchal, never looked back. After all, she had three children to raise and these were depression years. As is often the case, early hardships made the man."
Rita Mae Brown

"April 12, 1861. Bright, gutsy and young,Geneva Chatfield marries Nash Hart in Albemarle County, Virginia, the same day Fort Sumter's guns fire the start of the Civil War. Five days later she loses him as Nash joins the Confederate Army. Geneva, who is known as the best rider since Light Horse Harry Lee, cuts her hair, dons a uniform, enlists as 'Jimmy Chatfield,' then rides off to be with her beloved Nash. But sensitive Nash recoils in horror from the violence of war, while Geneva is invigorated by the chase and the fight. Can she be all the man her husband isn't? She'll sure as hell try. But there is a complication, and his name is Major "Mars" Vickers. This macho major, to his own shock and amazement, finds himself inexplicably attracted to the young soldier named 'Jimmy.' And this is only the beginning of a novel that moves with sureness and grace from the ferocity of battle to the struggle on the homefront, and brings passion and sly humor to a story of dawning love."

Cynthia Voigt
Abandoned by their mother, four children begin a search for a home and an identity.
Donald McCaig

Duncan Gatewood, seventeen and heir to Gatewood Plantation, falls in love with Maggie, a mulatto slave, who conceives a son, Jacob. Maggie and Jacob are sold south, and Duncan is packed off to the Virginia Military Institute—he will eventually fight for Robert E. Lee. Another Gatewood slave, Jesse—whose love for Maggie is unrequited—escapes to find her. Jesse finds his freedom and enlists in Mr. Lincoln’s army; in time he will confront his former masters.

Claudia Emerson
"In Late Wife, a woman explores her disappearance from one life and reappearance in another as she addresses her former husband, herself, and her new husband in a series of epistolary poems. Though not satisfied in her first marriage, she laments vanishing from the life she and her husband shared for years. She then describes the unexpected joys of solitude during her recovery and emotional convalescence. Finally, in a sequence of sonnets, she speaks to her new husband, whose first wife died from lung cancer. The poems highlight how rebeginning in this relationship has come about in part because of two couples' respective losses. The most personal of Claudia Emerson's poetry collections, Late Wife is both an elegy and a celebration of a rich present informed by a complex past."
Alan Cheuse
Not how to get the message on your beeper. Fiction writer, critic, and radio book commentator Cheuse collects 21 essays and an interview with him, most previously published, looking back at the thousands of books he has read, reviewed, and loved. He clearly distinguishes between ancient and modern literature, and among the contemporary literatures of various cultures.

Fiction writer and book commentator on "All Things Considered," Cheuse reviews some of the many books he has read over the year; looks at many of the authors of those works; and talks about what makes a good story and gives suggestions on how to write.

Edgar Cayce
"The renowned psychic describes his extraordinary powers as a young boy, his personal life and career as a spiritualist, and his teachings on thousands of topics. Cayce was the founder of the Association for Research and Enlightenment in Virginia Beach."
Virginia Bell Dabney
"It was an unusual household: the mother and three daughters lived on a ramshackle farm in western Virginia while the father stayed in Chicago, visiting his family during summer vacations and at Christmas. Virginia (Vallie), much younger than her sisters, never felt comfortable with her father. Playmates were a rarity, but she found rewards in the company of farm animals and the three black people who were hired help. Vallie's attempt at self-baptism and the cook's reaction makes an endearing story."
Emyl Jenkins
When rare and valuable pieces mysteriously start showing up at the local Salvation Army store—tucked into an oven mitt, hidden in a quilt—expert appraiser Sterling Glass is brought in to evaluate their worth. As she researches the origins of a rare urn, one strange detail leads to another. Before long she uncovers an intricate plot involving a slew of antique treasures, the oldest families of Leemont, some sophisticated scammers, and shifty associates at New York’s most prestigious auction houses. Add to that one elderly man trying to preserve his family’s treasured collection of bronze and ivory Art Deco sculptures, and Sterling finds herself tangled in a web of greed, deceit, and danger.
Cathryn Hankla
"Humorous, quirky, and spiritually meditative by turns, Cathryn Hankla's prose poems move by associative leaps and take their inspirations from cultural and personal icons. A shadow narrative moors the collection in the perspective of a woman who survives a difficult childhood to eventually comprehend the paradoxes of adult life and whose journeys into her heritage bring her to a fuller realization of her place in the world."
Steve Watkins

In 1988, several white managers of the Shoney's restaurant chain protested against the company's discriminatory hiring practices, including an order at some restaurants to blacken the "O" in "Shoney's" on minorities' job applications so that the marked forms could then be ignored or discarded. When the managers refused to comply, they lost their jobs but not their resolve - they sued the company, and their case grew to become one of the largest racial job discrimination class action lawsuits and settlements in American history. The Black O is a fascinating, behindthe- scenes detective story about how the case evolved. The saga is populated with many unforgettable characters. Watkins teaches at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA.

Phyllis A. Whitney

Returning to her Virginia home town to confront her past, Susan Prentice confronts the fears of people who believe that her memory might harbor the secret of her mother's "accidental" death.

Henry Taylor

"The poems in The Flying Change embrace a wide range of subjects and tones. Henry Taylor's concern with the rural anecdote, demonstrated in his two earlier works of poetry, The Horse Show at Midnight and An Afternoon of Pocket Billiards, is here broadened to include not only funny stories called "snapshots" but also extended meditations on change and death. Throughout this collection, Taylor combines everyday speech with careful control of traditional forms to produce poems of unusual power."
A Pulitzer Prize-winning book.

Martin Clark

"Hung over, beaten by the unforgiving sun, bitter at his estranged wife, and dreading the day’s docket of petty criminal cases, Judge Evers Wheeling is in need of something on the morning he's accosted by Ruth Esther English. Ruth Esther's strange story certainly is something, and Judge Wheeling finds himself in uncharted territory. Reluctantly agreeing to help Ruth Esther retrieve some stolen money, he recruits his pot-addled brother and a band of merry hangers-on for the big adventure."

William Hoffman
"The secret was buried deep within the high mountains of West Virginia. It spiraled down to a devastating legacy of betrayal, revenge, and rage that was destined to destroy a dynasty. Charley LeBlanc is the black sheep, a disgrace to the family name -- a name steeped in tradition, wealth, privilege, and prestige. But when Charley is hauled out of his shanty hideaway in a Chesapeake inlet by the sheriff, he's up against more than he had ever faced in Vietnam, prison, or the rest of his miserable past. Presumed guilty of setting a charge that blew his family to kingdom come, Charley becomes a fugitive, running deep into the mountains -- and into the past. Unless he can find out who did it and why, he's going to pay with his life, and that suddenly seems too precious to lose."
Virginia C. Johnson and Barbara Crookshanks

"Virginia, mother of presidents, is also the mother of American horse racing. From the very beginning, Virginians have risked it all on the track as eagerly as on the battlefield. Follow the bloodlines of three foundation sires of the American Thoroughbred through generations of rollicking races and largerthan- life grandees wagering kingly stakes, sometimes on horses not yet born. How did the horse nicknamed Damn His Eyes get protection money from other horse owners? What did it mean to tap the claret to break a neck-and-neck tie? Why was Confederate cavalry so much better than the Union--was it the riders, or was it the mounts? All these and many more stories of horsemanship on and off the track fill the pages of Virginia Horse Racing: Triumphs of the Turf."