Monday, October 12, 2020

Guest Post with Nora Shalaway Carpenter - Rural Voices

Photo Credit: Chip Bryan

Nora Shalaway Carpenter grew up on a mountain ridge deep in the West Virginia wilderness. A graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program, she is the author of the YA novel The Edge of Anything and the picture book Yoga Frog. Before she wrote books, she worked as associate editor of Wonderful West Virginia magazine, and she has been a certified yoga teacher since 2012. She currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband, three young children, and world’s most patient dog and cat.


Hardcover : 336 pages
ISBN-10 : 1536212105
ISBN-13 : 978-1536212105
Publisher : Candlewick (October 13, 2020)
Language: : English


The writers bring authentic voices to their work in addition to their biographies, shared at the back of the book. This collection will be a high-interest read for middle and high school students...This book is a must-purchase for libraries serving middle and high school readers. —School Library Connection

The compilation successfully meets the challenge of serving as a cohesive whole while providing readers with enough variety of tone, pace, and voice to keep the reading experience interesting. A fresh and highly accessible contribution. —Kirkus Reviews

From laughing out loud to holding back tears, readers who enjoy emotionally resonant books will not be disappointed. Those from similar geographic areas will be nodding their heads while every reader, regardless of location, will connect to the universal triumphs and tribulations of teen life. Fans of Rainbow Rowell will dive headfirst into this collection. A great addition that explores an often misrepresented portion of readers. —School Library Journal

1. A deep and vital connection to nature. I grew up on 88 acres of wilderness. From the time I was about ten, I was allowed to roam the property by myself, and I used to play a game where I’d “get lost” and see how long it took me to find my way home. I was never truly lost, of course. My house was on top of a ridge, so I only had to go up to find it, unless I ended up on another hill and then I could just look across the valley to locate my house and reorient myself towards it. Wild animals such as deer, foxes, and even snakes and bears were no big deal to me, though I certainly avoided the latter. I knew that the land was their home as much as it was mine. When you spend so much time in nature, you can’t help falling in love with it. Unsurprisingly, connection to the natural world is a huge theme in all my work. 

2. Freedom and space. Despite being an extravert, I loved returning to my rural home because I could completely recharge from school and extracurriculars. When I was at home, I didn’t have to worry about being “on.” If I was angry, I could go out on my back porch and scream to the trees. Or cry. Or practice my violin without worrying about bothering neighbors. And of course, I had lots of time and space to dream up stories. 

3. My own Middle-earth (or Pern, or whatever universe in which my current read was set). 
Place (and the characters’ connection to it) is always important in my work, and I think one of the reasons is that I often physically roamed the worlds of my favorite books (well, sort of. You get the idea.). When you have access to almost ninety acres of mountainous forest, you find pretty much everything—cliffs, huge rock piles, streams and springs, awesome fallen trees, and roots that twist up and sideways into a spectacular natural castle. I (and my friends) created elaborate stories and games to go along with these spectacular environments, and that connection to place informs my writing today. 

4. The night sky. When I was growing up, fracking hadn’t yet come to my community, so there was zero light pollution where I lived. When we climbed the giant hill to our hayfield, we could see thousands of stars, and sometimes the outline of the Milky Way itself. I watched meteor showers, comets, and numerous astrological events from the place my family lovingly termed “the top of the world.” Up until about ninth grade, I wanted to be an astronomer. 

5. Connection to community. When you grow up with the same 60 people in your grade from kindergarten through high school graduation (and a total of just over a thousand people in the entire town), people are going to know who you are, especially if you’re involved in spectator activities. When I was a teen, a large portion of my identity revolved around varsity volleyball. (My school was small, yes, but we had a dynamite volleyball team and won numerous tournaments and championships in our division.) I also played basketball and we did okay, too. This meant that when I went into town, I invariably had people come up to me and talk about the games. Sometimes teen me didn’t actually know these people. But they always knew me from the courts. I was doing something that made them feel pride in our high school and our town, which was so often belittled by outsiders. It was, I’m sure, the closest I’ll ever get to being famous, and looking back, that was pretty special. 

6. Bringing in firewood. I know. This is a strange one. We had a woodstove growing up, and one of my childhood chores was to bring in chopped wood from the shed and refill our indoor supply. It usually took my small self about twenty trips. I’d get bundled up and tromp through the snow, making the short trek over and over again. And while I was probably annoyed at first, I remember growing to deeply love this job. Something about the work made me feel so cozy, and so vital to my family. 

7. The ability to disconnect from electronic devices. Like so many people, I am now somewhat addicted to my smart phone. But there are many, many rural places (including spots where I grew up), where today, in 2020, you still cannot get internet service or cell reception. This can be annoying (and as the story “The (Unhealthy) Breakfast Club” demonstrates, even detrimental. But in some ways, it can also be liberating. There is no deciding to take a break from electronics. You do so because you must. You cannot constantly check news, email, or social media. For me, taking technology breaks like this are an important part of staying mentally healthy. 

8. Sometimes the school bus brought home my dog. It was kind of the best. 

9. Whole-town events. Some of my very favorite memories from my rural childhood involve whole-town events, including the Christmas parade and carnivals. I feel like half the town was probably actually IN the parade, which just made it even better. All kinds of groups made floats—from the Agriculture department and Art club to the cheerleading squad and girl scout troops. And of course the band played. There was a spot for everyone and I freaking loved that. The carnivals usually took place in the small library parking lot and consisted of classic games and unhealthy food. I’m sure they weren’t much to look at, but I loved that everyone seemed to come out for them. It was a community gathering opportunity, and that made it special. 

10. Immunity to car sickness. So there’s no denying it: getting to my town (and then to my house) involved a lot of windy roads, even the ones that were paved. But when you grow up driving them constantly, you develop a tolerance. Did this give us an extra home game advantage when city teams came to play us in sports? I’d say yes. Did it keep my extended family from visiting often? Also yes. But I can (and still do) read in the car with no problem, and that’s kind of fantastic.

Think you know what rural America is like? Discover a plurality of perspectives in this enlightening anthology of stories that turns preconceptions on their head.

Gracie sees a chance of fitting in at her South Carolina private school, until a "white trash"-themed Halloween party has her steering clear of the rich kids. Samuel's Tejano family has both stood up to oppression and been a source of it, but now he's ready to own his true sexual identity. A Puerto Rican teen in Utah discovers that being a rodeo queen means embracing her heritage, not shedding it. . . .

For most of America's history, rural people and culture have been casually mocked, stereotyped, and, in general, deeply misunderstood. Now an array of short stories, poetry, graphic short stories, and personal essays, along with anecdotes from the authors' real lives, dives deep into the complexity and diversity of rural America and the people who call it home. Fifteen extraordinary authors - diverse in ethnic background, sexual orientation, geographic location, and socioeconomic status - explore the challenges, beauty, and nuances of growing up in rural America. From a mountain town in New Mexico to the gorges of New York to the arctic tundra of Alaska, you'll find yourself visiting parts of this country you might not know existed - and meet characters whose lives might be surprisingly similar to your own.

Nora Shalaway Carpenter, David Bowles, Joseph Bruchac, Veeda Bybee, Shae Carys, S.A. Cosby, Rob Costello, Randy DuBurke, David Macinnis Gill, Nasugraq Rainey Hopson, Estelle Laure, Yamile Saied Méndez, Ashley Hope Pérez, Tirzah Price and Monica Roe 

You can purchase Rural Voices at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you CANDLEWICK PRESS for making this giveaway possible.
5 Winners will receive a Copy of RURAL VOICES Edited by Nora Shalaway Carpenter.
OCTOBER 13th TUESDAY Movies, Shows, & Books GUEST POST
OCTOBER 14th WEDNESDAY Crossroad Reviews REVIEW 

OCTOBER 20th TUESDAY Reading Adventures of a Book Dragon REVIEW & GUEST POST 
OCTOBER 22nd THURSDAY The Phantom Paragrapher REVIEW 
OCTOBER 22nd THURSDAY Two Points of Interest REVIEW 
OCTOBER 23rd FRIDAY My Fictional Oasis REVIEW


Post a Comment