By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer
About six years ago a writer who has since become a dear friend of mine came to Crossville and stayed in a cabin at the invitation of another friend and wrote the rough draft of a novel that is scheduled for release Sept. 10, 2013 published by Mercer Press.
“Mother of Rain,” the new novel by author Karen Spears Zacharias, will capture your heart if you love tales and adventures of historic Appalachia and Tennessee.
Next Friday, Sept. 13, Karen will return to Crossville to give a presentation at the Art Circle Public Library during a local author open house event.
The new novel is dedicated to Charles Gordon Wofford (Flash), the Crossville resident who encouraged Karen to come spend some time in Cumberland County in that cabin and work on her novel.
Gordon, who was also a dear friend of mine thanks to Karen, has since passed away in 2009 after a long battle with cancer. Gordon, a Vietnam veteran, and Karen became friends after he read a previous book by Karen, “After the Flag is Folded,” and saw her appearance on Good Morning America.
Karen, whose father was killed in Vietnam, wrote that book from the family’s viewpoint of losing a family member to a war in the 1960s and the aftermath and continuing to live in the South.
Gordon told me, “After reading that book it got me to thinking about what it was like for the families. The survivors at home and not from the veteran’s point of view. It changed everything for me.”
I met Gordon in 2006 after Karen, who lives thousands of miles away in Oregon, encouraged him to go to the local newspaper to tell his story of meeting the family of the man who was killed in Vietnam while saving Gordon’s life.
It’s a story I’ve written about several times before. We all became friends after that story.
Gordon was a master storyteller. He would often tell stories of the past and his raspy, southern-accented phrases and the way in which he worded events made his stories deeply interesting and entertaining.
What makes Karen’s newest book “Mother of Rain” special is that several of the characters are based on family members of Karen’s childhood times in Tennessee, where she spent much time with her great-aunt ‘Cil in Christian Bend.
It’s through the telling of these tales and the sharing of these stories with readers today, that preserves family heritage and old times and the experiences shared demonstrate what life was like in the south, decades and lifetimes ago.
Although this is Karen’s first novel, she was written several non-fiction books in the past and is an experienced author and journalist who uses those skills to present stories based on evidence and facts.
This presentation, will also include an appearance by Ann Hite, author of “The Storycatcher,” which is a ghost tale set in 1939 in North Carolina.
Karen is on an extensive book tour of the South right now and Crossville is one of the places she has planned on visiting for years once this book was published.
Karen is looking forward to brining “Mother of Rain” home to Tennessee and sharing the characters and stories with Crossville.
The author’s event is at the Art Circle Public Library from 9 a.m. until afternoon. Karen Spears Zacharias will give her presentation from 11 a.m. to noon. A lunch sponsored by the Friends of the Library will follow at noon.
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Gary Nelson is a Crossville Chronicle staffwriter. His column is published each Friday. He may be reached at email@example.com.