THIS WEEK’S OTHER FEATURED BOOKS, “GOING TO SCHOOL IN BLACK AND WHITE,” BY CINDY WASZAK GEARY AND LaHOMA SMITH ROMICKI AND “A CHANGE OF HATE,” BY JOE BROADMEADOW,” CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.
THE BOOK: Minnow.
PUBLISHED IN: 2015.
THE AUTHOR: James E. McTeer II.
THE EDITOR: C. Michael Curtis.
THE PUBLISHER: Hub City Press — an independent publisher in Spartanburg, SC. Their most recent success is winning a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 2018.
SUMMARY: Minnow is an otherworldly story of a small boy who leaves his dying father’s bedside hunting a medicine for a mysterious illness. Sent by his mother to a local druggist in their seaside village, Minnow unexpectedly takes a dark and wondrous journey into the ancient Sea Islands, seeking the grave dust of a long-ago hoodoo man to buy him a cure. With only a half-feral dog by his side, Minnow’s odyssey is haunted at every turn by the agents of Sorry George, a witch doctor who once stirred up a fever that killed fifty-two men. Meanwhile, a tempest brews out at sea, threatening to bring untold devastation to the coastal way of life. Minnow is a remarkable debut novel that evokes the fiction of Karen Russell and Matt Bell — a Lowcountry Heart of Darkness about the mysteries of childhood, the sacrifices we make to preserve out families, and the ghosts that linger in the Spanish moss of the South Carolina barrier islands.
THE BACK STORY: I’ve been writing my whole life, and in my late twenties I had a few manuscripts in the drawer. None of them were getting the attention of agents I was querying in New York. I had moved to Columbia from Beaufort a few years prior, and I was yearning to write a novel that captured all the magic of my Lowcountry home: the history, the culture, my family’s roots, the ecology, the food — everything. So I decided to write a Lowcountry novel that I could submit to small, local presses within the state. My goal was to publish with a smaller press and, if successful, garner a little attention from New York. Minnow was the result, and within a year of publishing with Hub City Press I connected with a literary agent from New York.
WHY THIS TITLE? The title was originally longer, but I liked it: Grave Dust From the Islands Far. It was one of the first things Betsy Teter (then publishing director at Hub City Press) and my editor C. Michael Curtis (editor at the Atlantic) wanted to change. We came very quickly to just Minnow, which is the main character’s name.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Minnow is one of those stories that I think can speak to anyone. It combines the magic of the Lowcountry with a coming-of-age adventure that has resonated with readers both young and old. It’s got some history, some magic, some adventure and some horror. If you’re from the Lowcountry, you’ll feel right at home. If you’ve never visited, you’ll get a chance to experience something new.\
Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, called it “a gorgeous fever dream of a novel.” NYT bestseller Lauren Groff said it is “an urgent novel, as stark and wild as the fairy tale deep in its bones.” Pat Conroy, who needs no introduction for anyone who knows anything about The Lowcountry, called it “”A fabulous tale.”
AUTHOR PROFILE: I was born and raised in Beaufort, South Carolina. My family has strong roots there. My grandfather, James Edwin McTeer, was sheriff in Beaufort for 37 years, and I am a direct descendant of Thomas Heyward Jr., signer of the Declaration of Independence. I earned a BA in English and a Master’s Degree in Library Science before moving to Columbia, SC to work as an elementary school librarian. I had been writing my whole life, and put Minnow to paper after living in Columbia for a few years. It won the 2015 South Carolina First Novel Prize and launched my writing career in earnest. Minnow has gone on to win a regional gold IPPY, received starred reviews from Kirkus and Library Journal and was called a “fabulous tale” by Pat Conroy. My newest book is currently going through the final stages before submission to publishers. I am married to my best friend and first reader and together we have one wild two-and-a-half year-old son.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: “I hope people will pick up Minnow and be transported to the Lowcountry. Whether they’ve lived there for their entire lives or never even visited, I want it to be a journey for the reader as much as it’s a journey for the novel’s hero. My dream has always been to write a book that people will lie in bed and read with anticipation and excitement — just the way I’ve always enjoyed books myself.”
SAMPLE CHAPTER: You can read a few pages of Minnow at https://www.amazon.com/Minnow-James-McTeer-II/dp/193823524X.
LOCAL OUTLETS: I always recommend buying straight from the Hub City Bookstore, if you can. If you’re lucky enough to have a real book store in your town, ask your local bookseller if they can get you a copy of Minnow. That’s the best way to support a local author, a local bookstore, and books in general.
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT. You can ask for it at any local bookstore, or pick it up on Amazon and other online book retailers.
PRICE: Paperback $16. Hardcover $24.95.
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Contact me through my Website, http://www.jamesmcteer.com, on Facebook (https//www.facebook.com/jemwriter/) or on Twitter (@thatjmcteer).