Wednesday’s Literary Festival events featured Arnoult, Joy, Elliott

Authors Darnell Arnoult, Deidre Elliott and David Joy took the stage on Wednesday, March 21 for the fourth day of Western Carolina University’s 10th annual Spring Literary Festival.

Arnoult began the day at 4 p.m. by reading from her published novel “Sufficient Grace,” various poems and a novel she hopes to have published soon.

After some technical difficulty with the microphone, Arnoult began reading from “Sufficient Grace.” She gave some background information about the novel, saying that many people confused it with the Christian fiction genre.

“I’m so confused about religion, I couldn’t write Christian fiction,” she stated.

After a few pages from the novel, Arnoult switched to some poetry. She explained her recent fascination with historical figures named Mary. Her first poem was titled “Charm” and described the Virgin Mary’s inner monologue about watching the torture and crucifixion of her son, Jesus. The following five poems focused on Mary Todd Lincoln, President Abraham Lincoln’s wife. Arnoult felt a deep connection with Mary Lincoln because Arnoult grew up with a mother who was bi-polar and schizophrenic.

“I came from a family of storytellers,” she said about becoming a writer. “I just had a natural understanding of what an arc was… I grew up in fiction. I’m steeped in fiction.”

WCU professor Deidre Elliott and alumni David Joy took the University Center Theater stage at 7:30 p.m. for more readings.

David Joy is a former undergraduate and graduate student from Western Carolina whose non-fiction book “Growing Gills” was published in 2011. The book comes in part from his thesis that he wrote while he was a graduate student. He won the award for Best Thesis after finishing the paper.

Joy told the audience that, “It was in this room where I discovered that I could become a writer when listening to someone with a thicker accent than I have.”

“Growing Gills” is a non-fiction book where Joy reflects on becoming wild. He writes about going fishing and spending time in the outdoors as a way to revert back to his primal existence to better understand from where humans have evolved. He wrote that fishing is not a means of escape but a means of becoming. It is a means of reverting back to those primal instincts.

Joy is currently working on a third book and trying to get his second book published. His second book is also non-fiction and reflects his time watching his grandmother succumb to Alzheimer’s disease. His third book will be fiction.

Deidre Elliott is the Director of the Professional Writing program here at WCU and writes non-fiction essays.

Joy, while introducing Elliott, stated that he owed a lot to her as a writer and owed a lot of his book to her. Joy went on to say that Elliott is able to create passion in people to want to create something.

Elliott is from Tucson, Arizona, and the natural landscape of the desert seeps into her writing. She reflected that the desert is a difficult place to survive, so the animals have to be prickly in order to live. She went further to say that it is not only the animals who have to be prickly but also the people. Her non-fiction short story that she read, “Tia Amerita” was a reflection of her landlady’s 100th birthday celebration.

Elliott is currently working on publishing her non-fiction essays into a book.