November 6, 2011

An Evening With Mary Helen Stefaniak

Here we are on our best behavior - wouldn't it be nice to think that we had behaved so well the entire time Mary Helen was with us? Sadly...

Bruce probably found getting us to pose more like rounding up cats. So easy for us to be distracted!

What fun it was to have Mary Helen Stefaniak join us in October to discuss her book The Cailiffs of Baghdad, GA! Having heard Mary Helen speak twice at the Omaha Lit Fest and once at a book signing, I knew she'd make a great guest. When you ask Mary Helen a question, you get so much more than a one or two word answer! We spent as much of the evening discussing Stefaniak's writing process as we did discussing aspects of the book. The time Mary Helen spent as a young person visiting family living in the area that this book is set in inspired her to write a book about that part of Georgia and her own family gave her plenty of detail to add to her characters. But it was the bombing of Baghdad that really set her on her path. How, she wondered, could anyone risk destroying a part of the world that is the cradle of civilization? She became convinced that she wanted to write something that included the heritage of Baghdad. But how to tie it in with this family heritage she'd been wanting to write about? Along came Miss Spivey, the new teacher to Two Step, Georgia, who had traveled to Baghdad, Iraq and brought that part of the world straight into Georgia with her. Then the problem became finding a way to make everything realistic - happily, in doing research, Mary Helen discovered that there was, in fact, a link between the Middle East and the very area that her family had lived in.

Conversation between the Bookworms and Mary Helen wasn't limited to the book - we also learned a lot about the Ku Klux Klan from her and we talked about her family. As the World Series was in full swing, we also learned that she is a big fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, much to the delight of several of our members! Would we have her back again? Any time!

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