Interview with Author Donna Everhart

DONNA EVERHART‘s  whose much anticipated novel, The Education of Dixie Dupree, will arrive on October 25th. I just finished pre-reading the book and it is powerful, moving and beautifully written. To pre-order the book:


Interview with Author Donna Everhart
1. Can you tell us a little bit about your new book? What is the book about?

Here’s where I get to practice my pitch line. *clears throat* The Education of Dixie Dupree is a coming of age story set in rural Alabama, in 1969, about a young girl who lies as a way to cope with her dysfunctional family, but it’s only when she needs help the most that she realizes how much damage her past lies have done.

How’d I do?

2. How did you come up with the title?

There’s a bit of a backstory with how that came about. The original title was as bad as the very first draft of the story – which had a fatal flaw. If you know what a fatal flaw is (just the term in of itself sounds dire) you know the story had some serious issues overall. The title then was GRITS AND SUGAR, truly cringe worthy when I think back on it now. That was supposed to be my take on the Southern/Northern family dynamic. The first editor who read the manuscript said, “it has a fatal flaw, and you really, really need to change the title.” Something more or less like that. She may have said “really” like ten times. So, I began to think about what was happening to my little heroine, Dixie Dupree, and I sort of came to the conclusion, she’s learning. Then I thought, no, she’s getting an education – one no child should get, mind you – and then? It was a bit of a lightning strike of a thought, The Education of Dixie Dupree. I have a thing about titles anyway, and certain ones just resonate.

3. What inspired you to begin writing?

Mostly reading, and wanting to be able to do what those writers did – which was to bring out feelings and emotions simply by sitting down with a good book. As well, and maybe like many, it was also the job I was in. It was high stress (ha, not that writing is a walk in the park) but in a lot of ways, at my corporate job, I really felt like that proverbial square peg in a round hole. I enjoyed the work, really liked the people, but when you get to the point of dreading it, that’s when you know you need a change. I worked in IT for thirty five years – and in actuality, the choice to move on was made for me when the company I’d been with for twenty-five of those thirty five years declared Chp 11 bankruptcy. That’s when I knew the opportunity had come to work on something I’d thought of off and on for the better part of all those years.

4. What character did you enjoy writing about the most

Well. Dixie LuAnn Dupree – of course! I loved developing her personality, making her brave, gritty and persistent. Mostly that brave part – she needed that.

5. Who are some of your favorite authors right now?

This question is always one I love, but hard because I could provide quite the list. Dorothy Allison will always be a fave b/c of writing BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA. Another author who hasn’t written in a while whose writing I love is Kaye Gibbons (ELLEN FOSTER, A VRTUOUS WOMAN, etc) I love Rick Bragg, Wiley Cash, Ron Rash, Larry Brown, Kathryn Stockett, Charles Frazier, Robert Morgan, and Lee Smith to name a few. These are a few of the southern writers, and then there are the non-southern, like Lucy Grealy, (sadly gone) Ann Patchett, Jo Ann Beard, and David Wroblewski – again, only a few. Truth is I have hundreds of books, and in many cases, a single book by an author, and I loved their book – and it’s a favorite which means they are too – so I’d have to list all of them, but I won’t. 
6. What’s your next project?

Recently submitted was THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET (working title), which is a coming of age story set in the NC Appalachian mountains in 1940, about a young girl and her family who are displaced by a flood, and their struggle for survival. I’ve only recently turned to a brand new project, a story set in 1955 in eastern NC about a young girl and her family who are compelled by a personal tragedy to leave their family land in search of work and a life of their own.