The Blue Ridge Mountains are more than a pretty landscape for Oma Boyd. They are her muse for her two novellas, “Round This Mountain” and her new title “Blue Ridge Shadows.”
Boyd is a familiar face around Elkin, particularly the Foothills Arts Council. She began reading short stories she had wrote about a central character - “the old woman” - to various local assemblies before finally compiling them for “Round This Mountain.”
“I fell in love with her, the mountain, the people she talked about,” Boyd said.
The book was published in 2010 and gave Boyd’s fans a published version of the tales they enjoyed hearing her read. Over half of them had been previously published in literary magazines.
The stories stem from a woman Boyd met and knew very well. The stories are drawn from recorded conversations they had over the course of many years, compelling Boyd to chronicle the woman’s tough life in the mountains.
The names were changed and the character of the caretaker was inserted - Boyd was that caretaker - but Boyd told her husband after the stories were published that the book was not her own. The stories were directly drawn from the woman’s life.
The new book is entirely Boyd’s.
“Blue Ridge Shadows” is drawn from the deep emotions that surrounded personal issues in her life, but is entirely fictional, Boyd said. She called the book’s origins “an emotional place rather than an intellectual place.”
“This was my way of survival,” Boyd said.
Boyd began writing last winter and finished the book in the same season.
The story centers on a mountain girl named Dandelion who is thrown away at birth by her parents and taken in by another family. Throughout the book she struggles with deep misunderstandings and hardships surrounding her birth and her intelligence.
Boyd said throwing babies away was a common practice in bygone days in the mountains, stemming from the embarrassment and ridicule that came with having children out of wedlock.
Boyd said one reader, Wayne Easter, told her “‘Blue Ridge Shadows’ is as mystic as our Blue Ridge Mountains.” Another told her she should give away tissues with the book because it’s so sad.
When asked if the sadness and dark material in the book would likely steer readers away, Boyd gave an affirmative no. She believes readers need to know what kind of book they are about to read, preparing themselves in advance for the topics and their emotions.
Boyd said her daughter was doing very well now, but the book remains as a reminder of the darkness that pain and sadness can create.
She has written poems and stories throughout her life, but began taking classes to refine her skills when her husband was deployed to Desert Storm.
To fill the empty hours she joined a writing class and began meeting others with the same passion for creating their own written works.
Boyd will appear with several of the women writers she met at this year’s Pumpkin Festival in Elkin, Sept, 28. The group, called BRAs [Blue Ridge Authors], will be there to talk to passersby about their works and writing.
Both books are available at Diana’s Bookstore in downtown Elkin.
To contact Taylor Pardue call 336-835-1513 ext. 15, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.