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22 > Image 22 of Kentucky Alumni, vol. 81, no. 1, Spring 2010

Part of Kentucky alumnus

W hen the conversation turns literary, As a Hrst-year student at WKU, she was pasta entre would provide two more however, ]ones sounds far less like asked to read a story by Bobbie Ann meals? worth of leftovers? followed by a the girl next door, As a writer and profes- Mason, She vividly recalls the experience as walk through ]oseph-Beth, where he sor, she presents an acute awareness of her a turning point in her writing career: I would encourage her to buy books they own place in the Kentucky literary tradi- didn?t know you could write a story about couldn?t afford, (jones has since conducted tion; her self-possessed grace particularly Western Kentucky and people would want a signing of her book at ]oseph-Beth,) unique for a rising author who hasn?t yet to read it,? A decade later, ]ones says, she ]ones?s own experiences and struggles as reached her 30th birthday When asked teaches Mason?s story (ZS`hiZ0/Q? in her own an everyday Kentuckian? ring true in her about other Western Kentucky authors, creative writing classes at the University of Hction, The town of Roma, the setting for ]ones professes a Herce kinship to Bobbie North Carolina-Greensboro, where she is GirZ Trouble]? is Hctitious but is written as Ann Mason and Hnds few similarities to an assistant professor. a part of Logan County, from which she ]oey Goebel?s books, She is quick to note As a UK student, she studied under the hails, When asked whether her characters? that she feels that her works have less in poet Nikky Finney, the Hction writer Kim experience is uniquely Kentuckian or more common with the Appalachian literary tra- Edwards, and Kentucky Poet Laureate universally that of blue-collar small towns dition of ]ames Still or Chris Offutt, She Gurney Norman, Less than a decade after everywhere, ]ones responds, I only have provides snappy yet thoughtful analysis of her matriculation, she teamed with Finney, experience living in small towns in Ken- her fellow Kentucky authors Goebel?s whom she considers a mentor, in conduct- tucky? While she suspects that Roma isn?t works don?t focus on tractors and tobacco ing writing workshops at the Kentucky all that different from small towns in, say, juice? unlike many stories of the state, Women Writers Conference, Ohio, she says there is certainly a Kentucky while Offutt creates an almost magical? Edwards, the UK writing professor and vibe to her Hctional town, Maybe it?s to- world, and she notes that the tight-knit best-selling author of (Th Mem0ry bacco, or maybe it?s the Southern accent? network of Central and Eastern Kentucky Keepers Daughtef has called ]ones a strik- but the experience is certainly Kentuckian, writers doesn?t always extend out to their ingly gifted young writer? who turns a clear Nikky Finney recalls, What really truly Western brethren, As she discusses the in- but compassionate eye to the nuances of separated Holly from every other student I tricacies of her craft and the tradition of small-town life, had ever taught before was her discipline, I local writers, ]ones uses the words respect? Those who knew]ones during her under- never had to ask Are you working? Are and honor? over and over, clearly express- graduate years recall a talented and hard- you writing?? There she was handing me ing that she writes about the Kentucky that working young woman with a knack for more and more pages, She was a young she knows and loves, precise Hction, Says Mack McCormack, writer who completely understood very, publicity manager of the very early that if she didn?t make the University Press, IIolly time to write, then the writing simply 4* interned in the marketing wouldn?t happen, no matter how many _A GRAND mmm ` department at The Univer- ideas were swirling, This is a very hard A MAWELOUS _,_,CW OF sity Press of Kentucky vir- thing to teach most writers of her age, IIer HFm,,:,;FM,,\,G mmm tually her entire time as an hunger to be a writer was such a brilliant KD`.-MD p JON; undergrad at UK, As such, beam of light, IIer dedication to learning ' she did a little bit of every- her craft inside and out was the per- . thing, but her real strength fume in the air of every class we shared, I?m was always writing, We?ve not surprised in the least about her success, had a few good interns Not in the least, Talent is one thing, The .1 over the years, but she?s discipline to do the work is quite another.? one ofthe best who has p {_ come through since I?ve While some ofthe stories in GirZ A " V been at the press? Truublf may seem familiar to read- ll r __ ' ers familiar with the scandals and intrigues -. .r T __ O n her blog of small-town life, particularly that of . (http:/ /ho11ygod- Western Kentucky, ]ones insists that the dardjones,blogspot,com), stories aren?t ripped from the headlines? * P, ]ones recalls her student in the style of a television police drama, G I R L 4 U B L E days in Lexington, where While she acknowledges that you subcon- {_ `_ she and her husband sciously absorb the stories around you,? she ?'f`~_ V I: `'_ paired the typical struggles is quick to point out that most ofthe I I 5 of undergraduate students heartache occurring in Roma a town in I with those of a young mar- which sexual and interpersonal relation- { VF gig" 4-is ried couple, An extrava- ships are fraught with power struggles, y .. __ < gant date night, she says, strife and despair does not stem from S T O R I E S is * F " P. S. would be dinner at Bella real-life events, She bristles when describ- __ - ;z `Ny;j|*;; Notte on Nicholasville ing a Publishers Vwkfy review which called " Road, where a ten dollar her story 1% Expecmmy? the story of a >} 20 Spring 2010