Three books on a rural theme by three different publishers in a single year. Such is the unusual distinction of Kent Meyers, a creative writing professor at Black Hills State University in western South Dakota. Until now, Meyers has placed his work only in literary journals and small magazines.
Meyerís collection of essays, The Witness of Combines, is scheduled for publication by the University of Minnesota Press in September. Coming out simultaneously is Meyerís first novel, The River Warren, from Hungry Mind Press in Saint Paul. The third book, a group of short stories, tentatively titled The Light in the Crossing, is due next spring from St. Martinís.
"Iíve been working on something like this for 18 years," says the 42-year-old author, who grew up in rural Minnesota and now lives with his wife and three children in the very out-of-the-way town of Spearfish, S.D. (pop. 8340).
Meyers is one of the featured authors at todayís BEA lunch. He will appear at the booths of the University of Minnesota and Hungry Mind Press where galleys of his novel are available.
After one of his essays appeared in an anthology published by the University of Minnesota Press, Meyers sent a further sampling of his work to Todd Orjala, acquiring editor for regional books at the University of Minnesota. "I was immediately interested," recalls Orjala, who grew up on a Minnesota farm himself.
The stimulus for the other books was ĎThe Light in the Crossing," a short story that appeared in the Georgia Review. In a biographical note following the story, Meyers mentioned that he had finished a novel, so Hungry Mind editor Dallas Crow wrote him, asking to see the manuscript. "We ended up getting a stunning book," Crow recalls. "In fact, itís our first fiction as a press. We were looking for the right thing to make our fiction debut."
After reading the same short story, St. Martinís assistant editor Carrie McGinnis wrote Meyers a letter and asked whether the writer had anything else to show. Meyers had already submitted the novel unsuccessfully to another editor at St. Martinís, so his agent, Noah Lukeman,decided to offer McGinnis the short stories, which met with favor.
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