Dining with Robert Redford and Other Stories isn't a Hollywood tome.
The stories, to be released Aug. 22 by Little Creek Books, are 21 slices of life from our own times. Meet Lena the textile worker, and Kim Waldon who interprets dreams, Doris the traveling mannequin and the Hastings, a middle-aged couple who spot Robert Redford at a local restaurant. These characters are a fraction of those you'll dine with in this fresh new story collection from Tamra Wilson of Newton, NC. Wilson, who has spent most of her life as a publicist, is promoting something she knows best of all: her own writing.
“Good stories have a way of hunting me down,” she says. Family anecdotes, phone conversations, and emails can spark a story, and that's what this writer has done more than 50-times over.
Wilson, the former Tammy McElroy, was born in Pana and grew up in Shelby County. She will read from her new book at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6, at Just Books, 102 W. First Street, Assumption, IL. The public is invited.
Wilson, daughter of the late Lynn and Enid McElroy, is a niece of Opal Potter of Assumption. She graduated from Shelbyville High School in 1972 and took her first job out of college at the Shelbyville Daily Union. A collection of her Daily Union feature articles, About the County, was published by the Shelby County Historical & Genealogical Society three years ago.
About 12 years ago, Wilson began publishing fiction in literary journals and anthologies including North Carolina Literary Review, The MacGuffin, Epiphany. The Potomac, Southern Women's Review and Crossroads Journal of Southern Culture. She also received some encouragement along the way: the Blumenthal Writers & Readers Series, a fellowship at Virginia Center for Creative Arts, a N.C. Regional Artist Project Grant, finalist for the Press 53 Open Award for the Novella, finalist for the Iowa Review Short Fiction Award, the Jesse Stuart Prize for Young Adult Fiction.
Those who love a good story will want to settle back with her characters tangled in odd situations: the beautician haunted by a smoking figurine, a church woman who has a squirrel fall on her head, and a man who installs firecrackers in his attic as a fire alarm system.
“The stories capture people we know-even bits of ourselves-who bump through trying moments, who scramble to cope the best way they know how,” Wilson said.
Wilson has lived in Western North Carolina for 32 years. “I'm a Southern writer, not a Southerner,” she said. “To truly belong to a place you must be able to count more family in the local cemetery than around your dinner table.”
She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and recently completed her master's degree in creative writing at the University of Southern Maine.
“Maine is a great place to be in the summertime, but it's the farthest thing from southern,'” Wilson said.
She decided to compile her own story collection so readers could more easily access her work.
“The problem with publishing in small literary journals is that while it's an honor to make the cut, relatively few can find your work,” Wilson said. “Print journals print short runs. On-line journals may select certain stories to upload from their print issue. If they're strictly an on-line format, they may remove a story after it has been posted for a few weeks. There's a lot of impermanence in this business.”
For more information about the author, log on to www.tamrawilson.com .