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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The House of Words (no. 7): Luck (Marjorie Hudson)

5 birds, 3 eggs: Press 53
Cover artist Emma Skurnick
A Novello Literary Award Finalist
7. More on luck

Marjorie Hudson’s second book, Accidental Birds of the Carolinas: Stories about Yankees Moving South, is forthcoming on May 15 from Press 53. Doris Betts says “Hudson’s prose is pure as birdsong.” Visit her website here. Click on the title to sail onto her page at Press 53.

I e-met Marjorie after now-novelist and then-and-now bookshop manager Erica Eisdorfer told me that she had talked about my novel Catherwood in her first book, Looking for Virginia Dare (originally published by Coastal Carolina and now reprinted by Press 53.) And I still like to keep up with what she is doing. Some day when I am in North Carolina, I shall meet her. In the meantime, luck to her!

* * *

Marjorie's first book
came out in hardcover and paperback
from Coastal Carolina Press.
Now available from Press 53.
I think my big stroke of luck was getting a job at Algonquin Books in 1985 reading fiction. My job was to fix typos and fact check and run schedules. I was good at that. But the urge got stronger and stronger to write Southern fiction myself. So I quit my job and started doing it. For a Yankee, I've done well. I think my good luck started when I moved here. But that was because of a sign from GOD. A rainbow over a farmhouse for rent. I kid you not. I've had plenty of lousy luck too--ironies so brutal that only another writer could understand the pain--having the NY Times book page editor call, leave a message, but turns out he was fact checking a review of a rival book and was checking in with me as an expert--me, who wrote a book he was not going to review. Oh, the anguish! That's not bad luck really, it's just the convoluted system at work re: who gets attention. Other bad luck: having my publisher go out of business in an economic crash just as my first book was getting more attention and orders. What I do with bad luck? Sometimes I cry. But I've got a stubborn streak and I always get up and keep trying. My first book, Searching for Virginia Dare, is back in print and selling respectably. And the new publisher is publishing my debut fiction, Accidental Birds of the Carolinas. Press 53 has just won a bunch of IPPIE awards, so I feel really fortunate to be associated with the editor and other authors.

I kind of like being obscure and brilliant. There's a lot of freedom in it, and great pleasure in the work. Wish there was a little more money in it.


  1. I so look forward to reading Marjorie Hudson's new work! Apparently, there is a chapter online but I simply have to resist the temptation in order to indulge fully and read that as a part of the whole work. It's tempting me daily, though!
    Catherwood should be in publication again, and for good. It's far too good to be hiding in second-hand book stores. Is there no way to get that out again? It's outrageous that it is not. Best novel I've read in years.

    Would make a fantastic movie too.

  2. Yes, me too--I am so glad there is a new book for Marjorie! I know she has other unpublished work and hope it pops out soon as well.

    Thanks, Paul. Actually I am talking to a press about bringing out Catherwood, so I hope that will work out for them and for me.

    I did sell movie rights once upon a time to Stacey Title and Jonathan Penner, but they couldn't raise enough money. In fact, movie things are just strange. Seven people inquired about rights, all at once. And somebody on Oprah's staff called my agent and asked about rights. Weird, huh? Might have changed my visibility there... but maybe I wouldn't have done what I have done in my writing since then. Who knows?

    It's a funny business, writing. Because it's not a business, not really. Now publishing, that's a kettle of business fish.

  3. It would be make a very good movie. Some of the other books would too.

  4. I don't even think about such things--it's impossible to have any sway--so it doesn't bother me. My books are very much books, so I am happy with them being books!

    The great thing about movies is that they are entirely different from books yet also bring readers to books. But again, can't make those things happen: so why think about it?

    Besides, until a movie is actually distributed, things can and do go wrong. I have friends who have experienced that sort of almost-movie. So, again: don't think about it!


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.