Reading Matters

Let’s not forget these Charlotte novelists

I begin this column with fear and trembling.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the abundance these days of Charlotte novelists. So many, in fact, we can relax, take them for granted. Read them or not read them. It’s up to us.

That Sunday morning, I opened my paper. Gulped once. Gulped twice. I had left out two good novelist friends – Nancy Stancill and Karon Luddy.

Stancill, a former Observer editor and investigative reporter, has written two riveting novels set in Houston, each starring reporter Annie Price: “Saving Texas” and “Winning Texas,” the latter new this year.

Luddy, a former UNCC instructor, published “Spelldown,” a heartwarming young adult novel, with Simon & Schuster in 2007. Set in Red Clover, S.C., in 1968, feisty 13-year-old Karlene Bridges spells her way right out of Red Clover and into the national competition. But when news of her alcoholic father reaches her, she wonders: Do I have what it takes to be a real chamption?

And here’s Richard Helms with his brand-new 18th novel, “Older than Goodbye.” He emails that he keeps “a pretty low profile... which is a blessing for a relatively introverted author in an age when hand-selling books appears to be part of the job description.” For a “low-profiler,” he’s won major awards for crime writing: the Derringer Award, an International Thriller Writers Award and scads of nominations.

Helms’s Judd Wheeler series – “Six Mile Creek,” “Thunder Moon,” and the latest, are all set in North Carolina. As is “The Unresolved Seventh,” a forensic psychology courtroom thriller. And he’s a regular contributor to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, where he just sold “Blood Stained Glass,” also set in this state.

Winthrop short story writer Dustin M. Hoffman tipped me off to Bryn Chancellor, who teaches at UNCC. Her 2015 collection of stories, “When Are You Coming Home?” won the 2014 Prairie Schooner Book Prize. Next year, her first novel, “Sycamore,” will be out from Harper. Chancellor came to UNCC last year from the University of Montevallo in Birmingham, Ala.

It’s good to have friends, especially if you’re a novelist. Judith Fletcher is a friend of Nancy LiPetri, and she emailed to say that LiPetri’s novel, “The Wooded Path,” is set on Lake Norman. In it, a woman’s disappearance shakes the neighborhood and leads friends to re-evaluate their own lives. She is now working on a sequel, “Across the Lake.”

Anybody else? Speak up.

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