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Episode #201

First Novels

Air date 00/00/00 | CC
Host: Gene Edwards
Guest(s): Pia Ehrhardt, John Hart, Jack Pendarvis

“Novels are hard.” So says short story writer Pia Ehrhardt. “People who get it done,” adds Jack Pendarvis, who writes funny stories, “treat it like a serious job.” Novelist John Hart counters, “At the end of the day, if you’re not having fun doing it, it’s not worth it.” Experiences writing first novels on Writers. Gene Edwards hosts.



“I’ve never taken a writing class” shares best-selling author John Hart. His first novel, King of Lies was a huge success but writing it was “hard knocks. The learning curve is so steep.” Although he’s finishing his third book, he admits to “still learning and making mistakes.”

Pia Ehrhardt has a graduate degree in writing. Nonetheless, she says, “Novels are hard.” Hurricane Katrina changed the landscape of this New Orleans based short story writer’s first novel and has forced her into an intricate revision.

Jack Pendarvis commiserates. After a colleague critiqued the draft of his first novel—about a giant, Jack began what he thought would be an easy rewrite. “It was tough,” he remembers. “It was almost sentence by sentence.”

The trio joins host Gene Edwards at the Writers’ roundtable to tell of their writing lives. A group with different styles and approaches, they all have novels in various stages. At the time of our taping, Ehrhardt was rewriting her first; Pendarvis was awaiting publication of his first; and Hart was finishing his third. Hart’s first burst out of the starting gate and spent three weeks on The New York Times best seller list.

John Hart gave himself a gift in order to complete his first novel--time. He quit his paying job and spent one year writing. “Every day I went to work thinking that this is what I am doing without distraction. I am writing this book. That’s what allowed me I think to really bring the focus that got me published.”

Pia Ehrhardt has learned to recognize her own body language as she writes. “If you can just keep your butt in the chair when you have this incredible urge to go get a snack, you really can write through that and use that, use that discomfort and keep inside the story.”

Jack Pendarvis’ tale is a little different. “I’d been trying to get published for twenty years and no luck. So I started writing thesestories that went againsteverything they told me.” His first published story was Our Spring Catalog, a tongue-in-cheek literary list. His first novel Awesome about a 30 foot tall giant is scheduled for publication in July, 2008.

Ehrhardt likes writing about “the tender places that make us all human.” Hart says that “good storytelling needs tension and conflict and good, honest emotion.” And Pendarvis has fun with his stories and characters. “If I have a fleeting phobia or a stray thought that seems odd, rather than push it to the back of my mindas most of us have been trained to do in the normal human world, I try to take it out and let it fester and sort of push it and imagine the most extreme version.”

Pendarvis also says that chopping is “the most fun. I had one story that was 70, seven, zero pages long and it ended up being a page and a half.” He explains, “A lot of times you find you’re telling yourself something more that you’re really telling a reader”

Ehrhardt, too, likes editing. When she has a great line and fears she loves it too much, she “kills the darlings.” She does a head count and checks her themes and says for her “the fun part is getting the story down and then doing the crafting of the story.” She continues, “And making sure that you’re mining what you put in there that may be very subtle and underneath the surface.”

Hart writes in the morning and edits in the afternoon. “Normally, I will make sure each page is perfect before I move on to the next.” Editing as he works allows him to “set down the last page, step back and know that it’s the best I can make it.” He also adds that “fiction should be fun. At the end of the day if you’re not having fun doing it, it’s not worth it. It’s too hard.”

Ehrhardt concludes, It’s just tremendous to have a book that has your name on it that people canactuallybuy.”


John Hart

  • King of Lies. St. Martin's Minotaur, May 16, 2006
  • Down River, St. Martin's Minotaur, October 2, 2007
  • The Last Child, St. Martin’s Minotaur, March 9, 2010
  • Iron House, Thomas Dunne books, 2011

Jack Pendarvis

  • The Mysterious Secret of the Valuable Treasure. MacAdam/Cage, October 27, 2005
  • Your Body is Changing. MacAdam/Cage, May 31, 2007
  • Awesome. MacAdam/Cage, August 26, 2008
  • Shut Up, Ugly, MacAdam/Cage, February 1, 2010

Pia Ehrhardt

  • Famous Fathers,MacAdam/Cage, June 15, 2007

John Hart

Jack Pendarvis 

Pia Ehrhardt


Click here for a complete list of teaching resources related to this episode.


John Hart

Jack Pendarvis


I would like to give you my idea for one of your comic books. Well it is not one of your comic books yet, but it soon will be! I call my idea Sex Devil.

Sex Devil starts out as a normal high school student. Unfortunately his fellow classmates do not think he is normal. For you see, Sex Devil (real name Randy White) has a cleft palate.

Sex Devil attempts to get his fellow classmates to like him. Unfortunately he pretends that he knows karate, which is a lie. Sex Devil's lies are soon discovered. After that his fellow classmates put a thing on the blackboard. It is a picture of Sex Devil (I mean Randy White) with slanting eyes, which he does not have. Underneath the picture it says Wandy Wite, Kawate Kiwwah. Also there is a bubble coming out of Randy White's mouth. Randy White is saying WAH!

A school janitor sees Randy White's humiliation. After school the janitor who is Asian American pulls Randy White to the side. Randy White is apprehensive yet he follows the school janitor to his creepy shack. Underground beneath the shack there is a training facility for a rare form of karate called Jah-Kwo-Ton. Randy White goes there every day and learns how to fight Jah-Kwo-Ton style which nobody else in America knows except the janitor.

The janitor has vowed not to fight because he accidentally killed a man once. He has also made Randy White swear not to defend the janitor in case anything happens to him. The janitor has learned to accept his fate.

One day the same classmates who pick on Randy White accidentally kill the janitor. Well it is partially on purpose and partially on accident. Randy White attempts to aid the janitor but the janitor tells him to remember his vow. Randy White remembers his vow. Now his classmates assume that Randy White is more cowardly than ever.

Now we go forward into the future. Sex Devil can afford the right kind of medical insurance to where his cleft palate can be surgically fixed. While he is pretending to be Randy White he continues to talk like he has a cleft palate. This is just to conceal his secret identity.

All of the boys of Sex Devil's high school class have grown into manhood to become a criminal organization. They run the city under cover of darkness, plotting fake terrorist plots to keep the city in turmoil while they make their robberies. As a result some innocent Arab Americans get sent to prison.

Sex Devil is the prison psychiatrist for the innocent Arab Americans. They can tell that Sex Devil is their friend. The Arab Americans instruct Sex Devil in the ways of a secret cult to where Sex Devil now has ultimate control over his body. Now Sex Devil is an expert in two different secret cults of ancient lore. He is also a trained psychiatrist with mastery over the human mind. No one can match his prowess based on his unique balance of science, skill and sorcery.

Sex Devil finds out from the Arab Americans that the very same people who framed them are the same people who used to pick on Sex Devil all the time. Sex Devil vows revenge.

One night he goes undercover at the chemical factory of his old enemy, who now goes by the name of Black Friday. In the middle of a fight where Black Friday unfairly uses guns Sex Devil gets chemicals spilled on his genital region. Black Friday uses the opportunity to get away.

Sex Devil retreats to his underground lair, which is located beneath the janitor shack. He examines his genital region and discovers that his genital region now has amazing powers. Combined with the bodily control he has learned from the Arab Americans now Sex Devil realizes he has a unique opportunity.

Sex Devil starts out by dating Black Friday's girlfriend. This is the same girl that used to make fun of Sex Devil but she doesn't know it is the same person because he talks completely different.

First Sex Devil takes Jennifer to a nice restaurant. Jennifer is impressed by Sex Devil's worldly manners. Because of his secret mastery of bodily control he is also the best dancer anyone has ever seen. It is the greatest date ever. Jennifer asks Sex Devil if he wants to come up for some coffee. Sex Devil jokes, who knows where that will lead. Sex Devil leaves politely without taking advantage of Jennifer.

When Sex Devil gets home he has about six or seven phone calls from Jennifer on his answering machine. Please Sex Devil, I need to see you.

Sex Devil goes back over to Jennifer's apartment. On the way he stops and buys some flowers. Then he climbs up a drainpipe and enters Jennifer's bedroom.

Jennifer thanks Sex Devil for the flowers. They are so beautiful Sex Devil. Black Friday never buys me flowers. Sex Devil says enough of this talk. Then Sex Devil and Jennifer have intimacy.

Black Friday wonders what is wrong with Jennifer. She seems to be distracted all the time. He does not know she is secretly thinking of her intimacy with Sex Devil. Jennifer refuses to have intimacy with Black Friday. Intimacy with Black Friday has become hollow. Nothing can compare to the amazing powers of Sex Devil's genital region.

Black Friday becomes depressed. Black Friday loses his ability to have intimacy. He must see a psychiatrist. Get me the best psychiatrist in the city! Little does he realize it is Sex Devil.

Black Friday unburdens the problems of his soul to Sex Devil. On the outside Sex Devil is concerned. On the inside Sex Devil is ha ha ha!

Black Friday can no longer do his criminal activities because he has lost all worth of himself as a human being. Black Friday can no longer perform intimacy because of his crippling depression. Every time Black Friday leaves the house Sex Devil comes over and has intimacy with Jennifer. Please Sex Devil I love you, can't we get married? No Jennifer, I am married to my work.

At the end of the first issue Black Friday falls off a cliff. Now Sex Devil must go to work on the rest of the class. At the end of every issue one of Sex Devil's fellow classmates falls off a cliff or is caught in the gears of a large machine or blows themself up in an explosion or capsizes or a similar disaster. Or they are in a submarine that slowly fills up with water. It is never Sex Devil's fault but he doesn't feel bad about it because they are getting what they deserve. Every time Jennifer is like please won't you spend the whole night Sex Devil? What is with all this wham bam thank you mam. And Sex Devil is like maybe some other time baby. Because Sex Devil has more important things on his mind. And Jennifer is like I am starting to think you are just using me for intimacy like a hor. And Sex Devil is like now you are getting the picture baby.

In conclusion I hope you will start making the comic book Sex Devil because it deals with issues that young people care about today.

Excerpted by permission from The Mysterious Secret of the Valuable Treasureby Jack Pendarvis © 2005 MacAdam/Cage Publishing.


Pia Ehrhardt

  • Driveway

Trista is one of the moms I know from my son Eric’s baseball team. She took off to Colorado with another man and left her three boys in New Orleans with her husband, Brady. No warning, no trial separation, she just told him she was sick of teaching gymnastics, cooking the meals, and taxiing the kids. Brady works construction, but he fell off a scaffold and has been out for a few months, laid up at home in a cast.

I call him to see if we can help, maybe get his son to and from practice. He says no, he can handle it.

“How are you guys doing?” I ask.

“Trista’s not coming back for three months. She leaves messages on the answering machine because the kids won’t speak to her,” Brady says. “She’s a whore.”

        I don’t talk to the other baseball parents about her. They all want to paint Trista an alcoholic, a psycho, but I can understand her doing this. How that stuck feeling gets so bad that you leave in the middle of the night, and how sure you are that you’ll figure things out from a distance. You hope the kids will be okay because this is a small piece of time in everyone’s long life.

I don’t talk to my husband, Hugh, about Trista, be­cause he’ll think something’s wrong with us. He’ll think I envy her freedom, that I could run off on him and Eric and leave them a note by the phone on the counter: I don’t want this. He’s already told me what she’s done is abandonment. He thinks there is a thick black line between a woman who stays and a woman who leaves.

My mother had an affair with Mr. Ralph, a family friend, when I was two and she was pregnant with my sister, Leigh. My parents played in a touring dance band—Ralph Roy and the Roamers. She sang and my father wrote the arrangements; Ralph was the drummer. I found out about this when I was in middle school and my parents were divorcing. They stayed up for two days to argue and hurt each other with such old, old news. Ralph was long since dead but there was a note my mom had written him seventeen years ear­lier asking him to run away with her. My dad had it memorized and kept repeating the words to my mother. Ralph couldn’t leave his wife, but if he had, my mom finally admitted, she would’ve been long gone. I don’t know if she meant to take my sister and me with her. I’ve never asked.

Leigh calls from San Francisco on the Fourth of July. She’s worried about our mother, says she got loaded at 3 in the afternoon while they were talking. “She drinks on the phone,” Leigh says, like there’s something wrong with that. “I think she’s depressed.”

         I know Mom is fixing her house and stuff’s going wrong: the painter doesn’t paint fast enough, the color in the dining room is too purple, the carpet needs a thicker pad underneath.

“What were you two talking about?” I ask.

“How aggressive the squirrels are in her yard,” my sister says. “They look in the window when she’s reading the newspaper. And her doctor said there’s the beginning of osteoporosis.” My sister frets about this stuff like it’s hers.

“Those are her problems,” I say. “Why don’t you butt out?”

“Like you?” Leigh says.

Mother lives in River Ridge, twenty minutes from our house. She’s never remarried or even dated. I tell Leigh that she doesn’t drink too much around me. When I stop by her house we may have one glass of wine. I don’t think my mother’s a drunk. I think she’s on the phone with my sister. She lights a cigarette and pours herself a little glass of chilled white wine, and some of their talk is pleasant, some of it’s tense, and then before you know it, forty minutes have passed and the bottle’s half gone, while my sister’s sober.

“You bully her,” I say.

I could teach my mother something about drinking, about starting early and sitting in the chair in the driveway, smoking a little cigar and watching the trees sway while you go a hundred places in your head, getting to the other side of the buzz so it’s done and you’ve switched to cold water by the time your husband and son get home for dinner.

I think Trista misses her kids all day, but that there are chunks of time when she feels okay, fine, living there in Colorado with her new boyfriend, better than she felt at home in that little apartment with Brady. The differ­ence between a woman who stays and a woman who leaves isn’t geography. You can be in the room and long gone; it’s bolting without a destination.

My mother left her family at sixteen to sing and dance with Ralph Roy and the Roamers. She latched onto my father’s family and didn’t talk much about her own. We’d only visit her parents in Detroit once a year. As soon as we got there she’d go off with her father to look at his garden. We called him Pop. He only spoke Polish. She was like a child around him, smaller and sweet-voiced, touching his elbow. My grandfather grafted fruit trees, and he could make pears and apples hang from the same branch. On the side of the house was a rock garden. I thought all those plants grew from stone, purple, yellow, pink, so many colors low to the ground and flat as scarves. I didn’t know there was soil between the cracks.

My grandmother was small and her cheeks were shiny and red. She wore a housecoat all day. Her feet were crippled with gnarled toes that looked more plant than human, so she padded around in soft slip­pers and mostly sat in her chair, which touched arms with Pop’s. My mother says when her parents got old they held hands all day, but how would she know?

Practice is at noon and it’s 100 degrees in the shade. I stand under an oak tree with Brady and tell him Trista must think he’s good enough to raise her sons or she wouldn’t have left. He’s back at work, shorter days so he can pick his boys up from school. We talk longer than necessary. Hugh’s working late, and Brady asks if I can meet later at the Red Barn Pub for a drink.

We sit on stools and he gets a draft and I order a sea breeze. He’s wearing faded jeans and a soft red flannel shirt with the tails out. His face is sunburned from being outside and he looks like a boy I knew in college.

“You want your kids to feel safe,” I say, “even if you and your husband are having a rough time. You see them sitting Indian-style in the middle of a seesaw, mom on one end, dad on the other, and the dad bumps the mom and the mom bumps the dad, but the kids don’t feel the shock. At least that’s what you shoot for.”

He brushes the back of my hand with his fingers. It’s getting dark and I’ve left my son, Eric, at home. Brady walks me to my car and slams the door, pats the roof twice.

On the phone my sister asks me why I don’t come out and visit her in San Francisco for a few days, take a break from the heat. I tell her I’m busy with Eric’s baseball, Hugh’s busy with work.

I want to talk about Brady, explain to her what could happen, but she goes on and on, excited about a garden she’s planted in the front of her house, and de­scribes the mounds of lavender, heather, the purple sages, how wildly these things have taken off because of the cool California nights. I envy her weather and all these fragrant shrubs I can’t grow in Louisiana. I don’t want to hear any more about her plants. I imagine Ralph’s dick in my mother at the same time my sister is in her stomach. I mention this, ask if she thinks about this too, and I can hear her pull back like I’ve flicked her in the eyeball.

“What are you doing?” she says, but it’s all plea and no question.

Brady and I meet for coffee and a sandwich. I want to stay in that small sweet space between friendship and affair. This meeting with Brady doesn’t have to resolve. If I sleep with him, what happens to the wish?

       We order the same thing—ham and cheese on white with light mayo. I take a chance, shake two packets of sugar, tear the ends, and pour them in his coffee. He smiles. I stir. He reaches in the pocket of his shirt and puts mint leaves from his yard on the table. They’re warm and smell so good.

We sit across from each other in the booth and a patch of sun lights the middle of the table. My car key glints. I am happy there at the diner, busy-hearted for that hour. I’ve worn a cobalt blue skirt for him, dark pink lipstick, and a heavy, polished-silver bracelet of my mother’s that bangs against the table when I reach for my iced tea.

The waitress brings our food and there is mustard on Brady’s sandwich. He scrapes it off with the blade of his knife. I tear off some of the mint leaves and put them in my tea. He asks me point-blank if I’ve thought about kissing him and I admit I have. He asks why, if I want something, I don’t just do it. I like his question. It’s like a cold gust of wind that fills your lungs with air you didn’t know you needed. I forget I have a family.

We walk a few blocks down the median, which is a blanket of red clover and yellow dandelions. We check into a motel on Airline Highway. I want to fuck him, quit the little diner dance, and go through with this, have sex like my mother had, straighten my hair, go back home and prepare dinner, sit across the table from my husband and son with this secret dripping into my panties.

Brady and I lie on the bed and I wrap my legs around him and rest my head on his shoulder. My mother and I took naps together when she came home from touring. The arm she kept around me would get too heavy, but I left it there because if I tried to move it I’d wake her and she’d get up.

The air conditioner is stuck on 65 degrees and the room is freezing. We keep our shirts on. Brady runs his finger under the bracelet on my arm. I close my eyes to gather every bit of what he is doing but I think about Hugh, how I prefer the way he touches me. Brady’s got the TV turned on the Weather Channel and the sound is on too low to hear but okay, a noise you can forgive if you get up right then and walk out to your car.

My parents would bring Leigh and me to my father’s parents, and then they’d go on tour for six months at a time. They traveled on buses and planes and per­formed in every state but Hawaii. I dreamed of crashes and fires, my mother’s and father’s faces looking out the window screaming for help, and there was nothing I could do to get them home alive.

They always came back for Christmas. One year their band had its own TV special—”Ralph Roy’s Roamin’ Holiday.” My mom and dad sat on either side of me and Leigh, laughing and pointing at themselves. There were two things that took me a long time to un­derstand: how you could be in two places at the same time; why the people at the top of a ferris wheel didn’t hang upside down.

Trista has come back a few weeks early but hasn’t rec­onciled with Brady, and he still has the three boys.

She’s staying with her mother. I saw all of them at a baseball game yesterday and it was rude to look, but everyone did: the two older boys standing far away, keeping her at a distance, Brady talking to her a little around the concession stand. Jason, the four-year-old, hung around his mother, and played under the bleacher where she was sitting. He used the word “mom” in every sentence, but when he skinned his knee, he ran over to his father and Trista watched but didn’t get up.

I sat beside her. I was hoping she’d volunteer something about how you can get free but still be a mother. I asked where Jason would go to pre-K and she went blank, fumbled. Maybe she wanted me to go sit somewhere else.

She had a camera with her and kept taking pic­tures of the baseball kids, of her son Connor catching, and of Jason in the dirt with his trucks. She could only get her oldest son, Sean, from a distance. Since she left he’s been sitting alone, orphaning himself. She asked me to snap one of her and Jason, and I did. He’s little, still easy to catch and hold.

I go over to my mother’s to sit in her driveway and have a glass of wine. She’s planted red pentas, and hummingbirds dart in and out of flowers. I ask her if Mr. Ralph was her only affair.

       She looks like she’s been waiting for the question, and says, “I didn’t love anyone after I reconciled with your father?” Her head is turned away from me, watching a neighbor down the block. “He’s finally cut­ting off the brown leaves on that pittosporum?”

“That isn’t what I asked,” I say.

She’s still not looking at me. “It’s not a good idea?”

“Now you tell me?”

She sips her wine, watches me over the glass. “What are you saying?”

“Why did you?” I ask, so sure her answers will be trite—I was young, stupid, lonely, vain, couldn’t resist, just once...

“I was in love,” she says, and finally looks at me. “Are you?”

“With Hugh,” I say.

One of the baseball moms tells me that five years ago Trista and Brady had a baby girl they named Candace, full-term delivery but stillborn, and that she was em­balmed and waked and buried in a pink silk dress. She says, “When you ask Trista how many kids she has, she says, three boys and a girl who died?”

Trista counts the dead daughter and runs away from the three sons who are alive.

I don’t understand how a mother can come back to her kids and leave, come back and leave. Something hardens in the child. Kids start to wonder whether giving up your family isn’t some kind of peace.

One year my parents decided they weren’t going to tour anymore. They came home for good and picked us up from my grandmother’s. We moved to Shawnee on the Delaware, into a small house on seven acres. Deer looked in our windows. My parents seemed like glamorous strangers. I was in love with them, a little fan who ogled their every move, but I didn’t believe they could take care of me or my sister. They were dangerous. My father with his fast cars, always something small and red in the driveway, my mom spending too much money on slim dresses and fancy shoes my dad suspected weren’t for him. I missed my grandmother’s house.

Some nights they argued late in the dark living room and I sat at the top of the stairs in my pajamas to monitor what was going on, to see if they would leave again, because in one argument I heard my mother say they got along better on the road. I could hear the ice in their drinks, the scrape of chair legs, my mother walking through rooms to get away, her high heels clicking on the polished oak floors, muted by the den carpet, clicking on the kitchen linoleum, and then his heavy footsteps following, begging her back to us.

Maybe Trista wanted to leave the day-to-day fear of losing a child. I don’t know. I don’t know anything ex­cept that she looks like resolve, and she’s not ashamed to drive up in her old gray Honda, sit in her lawn chair, and watch her middle kid play ball. Brady stands with me behind the backstop, and tells me they’re trying to work something out that’s better for the kids. She’s going back to Denver when baseball’s over, and she wants the three boys with her for all of August SO she can show them the mountains.

I’ve only seen my mother cry inconsolably once, when I was in high school. She told me she had an older sister, Rosalind, who died of bone cancer six months after she came home from World War II. She was a Navy nurse. I didn’t know. My mother explained that she was eleven, and she stood in the yard with her fa­ther and brothers while her mother stayed in the kitchen. Three Navy planes flew low over their house to honor Rosalind, trailing red smoke like bloody cotton.

      “Did you cry?” I asked her.

      “I don’t remember,” she said. “I could hear my mother sobbing through the window?”

Eric is doing his homework in the kitchen and I sit with him and look at a magazine so he doesn’t know I just want his company. I don’t like drinking wine in front of him every night so I’ve brewed myself hot tea. At 6:30 he says, “Shouldn’t you be making dinner?”

      “Don’t tell me what to do,” I say.

      I wait on the porch for Hugh to get home from work. He pulls into the driveway. “Eric’s on your nerves?”

      “A little,” I say. I walk up to his car and suggest we all take a drive to my mother’s house. “I want to check on her,” I tell him.

      “You girls have a fight?” Hugh says.

      “Not really.”

      When we pull up, my mother’s in the front yard in blue jeans and yellow Wellies, pinching off the basil’s flowers so it doesn’t go to seed. “Take a ride with us?” I say.

      “I’m grubby from gardening.”

      “That’s okay,” I say. “No one will see you.”

      We cruise down River Road and follow the con­tours of the Mississippi. Hugh grew up in this part of New Orleans and he loves this drive. On our right there are small homes, car repair places, taverns, fruit stands. On our left the levee is mighty and green. It blocks our view of the water so we park and walk up the grassy incline to look at the river. A container ship passes and Eric knows the flag is from Norway. Nearby, a young woman is training two black Labs and they obey her commands in unison. My mother looks puz­zled but happy to be along. She whispers to me, “Is everything okay?” I stand beside her and pat her arm and she settles against me. It’s easier to love her when we touch and don’t talk, when she’s almost gone but not, like a rest without sleep.

      I load everyone back into the car and drive to the Pac ‘n’ Sac, run in and buy my husband and mother and me cold beers, Eric a root beer, and ten candy bars to ruin our appetites. We sit in the parking lot and listen to Fats Domino sing about walkin’ and talkin’ and hopin’. Eric groans but he knows the words. People run in and come out, purposeful, holding cigarettes, milk, bags of ice. A woman walks out with two boys. One holds a tub of ice cream and the other swings a bag of bread. She grabs the back of their shirts so they don’t get hit by a car and they shrug her off because they’re sure they won’t.

      Hugh asks if I had a good day and I tell him it was fine, just fine. Eric wants to know what we’re waiting for. I crank up the air-conditioning until the temperature in my car is like the Rockies in springtime. We are shivering. I put my hand over my husband’s and remember how thin the bones are in his fingers.


Producer: Edie Greene

Technical Director: Clark Lee

Cameras:  Earnest Seals

Mike Koskie

Chris Gordon

Jeremy Burson

Floor Director: Earnest Seals

Production Audio: John Busbice

CCU: Larry Uelmen

Videotape: Steve Downing

Location Videography: Jeremy Burson

Lighting Director: Kenneth Sullivan

Production Supervisor: Paul Miller

Editor: Edie Greene

On-line Editor: Larry Uelmen

Editing Supervisor: Scott Colwell

Art Director: Karen Wing

Makeup: Audrey Fitzpatrick

Title Animation and Graphics: Frank Cocke

Audio Post Production: Knight Bruce

Closed Captioning: Keri Horn

Scenic Designers: Karen Wing

Jack Thomas

Frank Cocke

Kenneth Sullivan

Scenic Craftsman: Jack Thomas

Jimmy Thrasher

Ray Green

Voice of Pat Conroy: Jay White

Voice of Pia Ehrhardt: Keri Horn

Announcer: Kevin Farrell

Production Coordinator: Glenroy Smith

Publicity: Mari Irby

Sam Wells

Kathy Broom

Webmaster: Thomas Broadus

On-Line Book Club: Ellie Wilson

Host:  Gene Edwards

Guests: John Hart

Pia Ehrhardt

Jack Pendarvis

Director of Productions: Darryl Moses

Deputy Executive Director, Content: Jay Woods

Executive Producer: Rick Klein

Special thanks to

Foundation for Public Broadcasting in Mississippi

Lemuria Books


Excerpts from “The Pipe” used by permission of Dan Brown C2007. All rights reserved.

Images of Salisbury, NC by Sean Meyers. All rights reserved.

Images of Hurricane Katrina damage used by permission of Pia Ehrhardt. All rights reserved.

Image of Eudora Welty courtesy Eudora Welty House Museum. All rights reserved.

Excerpt from “The Mysterious Secret of the Valuable Treasure” used by permission of Jack Pendarvis. Copyright © 2005. All rights reserved.

Excerpt from “Driveway” used by permission of Pia Ehrhardt. Copyright © 2007. All rights reserved.


Created by

Gene Edwards

John Evans


MAET © 2008