Jeff Minick releases first novel
Author Jeff Minick, former Waynesville resident, recently released his first novel, “Amanda Bell,” and will be visiting Blue Ridge Books at 3 p.m. Sept. 21 to read and sign copies. Minick took the time to answer the following questions about himself and the book.
Where are you from?
“I lived in Waynesville from 1984 until 2006, where I ran the Palmer House Bed and Breakfast and The Palmer House Bookshop on Main Street. My four children loved growing up in Haywood County. “
What do you do now?
“After my wife died in 2004, I moved with my youngest son to Asheville, where I had been teaching seminars to home school students in Latin, history and literature. I am still teaching students from the home school community.”
Tell me about your first book, “Amanda Bell” and the inspiration behind the story?
The book began as a short story — the first chapter, which is mostly humorous —for a paper that asked for a Christmas story. When the paper lost the story, this was a Catholic paper in the Midwest, I started looking at it as the beginning of a novel. I liked Amanda, but felt sorry for her at the same time.
Then I started looking at people who were dating, young and old, and trying to connect with other people, and saw how lost so many of us are both in terms of ourselves and others. Amanda's main difficulty is that she has imprisoned herself, locked herself up behind bars in order to self-protect. The key that releases her from her self-made castle, which is actually a prison cell, is love.
The novel looks at this growth of love in her, first through her relationship with a wise old priest, then with some children in a house where she serves as a governess/nanny, and finally with the man of the house, a widower. Amanda comes from the Latin gerund meaning "loving." The story is modeled in part on a fairy tale. It begins with once upon a time and ends with happily ever after.
Where can people buy the book?
“The novel may be purchased at Blue Ridge Books or at Amazon. I encourage readers to buy it at their local bookstore.”
Who are your favorite authors?
I like many authors, but my favorites would include Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Evelyn Waugh, Mark Helprin, Anne Tyler, Flannery O'Connor and Sigrid Undset.
When did you start writing?
“I started writing many years ago, and it is a lifelong habit, though hard to do because I also must make a living. I've had many short pieces published, mostly in the Smoky Mountain News and in a magazine called Chronicles. I love writing essays and reviews, essays especially, and have a book coming out of essays that have been published in different magazines. The book is called “Learning As I Go” and should see print by mid-October. I've also seen published poetry and short stories in different magazines over the years.”
What do you hope people take away from your book?
“I would hope that readers, all of us, might read the book and come away wanting to love more strongly those dear to us. If we don't have people close to us, then I would hope that the book might help some readers to connect more deeply to those around them. For young women reading the book, my hope in particular is that they in turn would take hope from a story in which love —true love — can triumph over adversity.”