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Authors And Their Debut Novels: A Conversation

Update August 24: We are grateful for the outpour of enthusiasm for this event. All seats are filled, but please keep an eye out for our future events. 

Exciting things are happening for the Network.  We recently launched our new logo. An updated website is coming (September), and we are giddy about November’s Fall Conference in Wrightsville Beach (registration opens on September 1).  We are also developing new social media content and programming.    

We inaugurate the dynamic Fall Season on September 15th with a free virtual Author Roundtable Discussion: Writing That Debut Novel.  Moderated by NCWN’s Membership Coordinator Deonna Kelli Sayed, the roundtable welcomes David Wright Faladé, Kelly Mustian, and Ashleigh Bell Pedersen. The novelists will share their writing process, give insight on research practices for writing historical-based fiction, discuss paths to publication, and offer other writerly advice with time for Q&A from participants.

The Network is excited to present this opportunity to engage with emerging voices in the larger literary community.

Faladé is the author of Black Cloud Rising (Grove Atlantic, February 2022), an Outer Banks-based Civil War novel that follows the Union’s African Brigade, an infantry of formerly-enslaved individuals during three-weeks in Union controlled North Carolina. The protagonist, Richard Etheridge, is a historical figure best known as the first African-American to command a life-saving station on Pea Island. Faladé was intrigued by this lesser-known part of Etheridge’s life and of North Carolina Civil War history. 

Faladé teaches in the MFA program at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. He has appeared on National Public Radio and his essays have appeared in The New Yorker.  Black Cloud Rising is longlisted for the 2023 Crook’s Corner Book Prize.

Kelly Mustian is a Network member and author of Girls in the Stilt House (Sourcebooks, April 2021), now in its 15th printing.  The novel follows two teenage girls in the 1920s Mississippi Trace who form a tenuous bon after a murder.  In July, data compiled by the Panorama Project listed Mustian’s novel as one of most requested fiction titles in New Atlantic region libraries for the first part of 2022.  The novel is a USA Today bestseller and was shortlisted in 2022 for the Crook’s Corner Book Prize. 

Ashleigh Bell Pedersen’s The Crocodile Bride  (Hub City, May 2022) this year’s fiction recipient of the Charles Frazier Cold Mountain Fund Series. The Crocodile Bride takes place in rural Louisiana in 1982 and follows eleven-year-old Sunshine as she comes of age. The novel’s theme explores generational trauma with a swampy summer as backdrop. Pedersen received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She currently lives in Brooklyn where she writes, paints, acts, tutors young people in writing and knows that Louisiana doesn’t have crocodiles. She manages an impressive literary-focused substack (e-newsletter), by the way.

Mustian shares “the North Carolina Writers’ Network has been part of my writing journey, and I’m so looking forward to sharing thoughts about debut novels and the intricacies of historical fiction along with these fellow authors whose works are so intimately steeped in place.”

This one-hour event will be an inspiring kick-off to the Network’s Fall season.   

The Zoom event will start at 7 pm EST and is open to the members and non-members. Advanced registration is required. 

We hope to see you there.