LAURINBURG – A former Scotland High School English teacher is the newest person to join the growing list of over a dozen authors from Scotland County.
Patsy Odom’s, whose inaugural book, “Stained Glass,” will be released on Feb. 15, has always enjoyed writing.
“Even when I was a little girl I would write stories, diaries, notebooks and journals,” Odom said. “My father influenced my reading and writing. He bought me beautifully illustrated books, and before I could write or read, I would look at the pictures and start telling a story.”
Given her love of writing and 50 years teaching English and Composition at Scotland High and later UNC Pembroke, composing a book seemed a natural next step.
“I kept writing through the years, but nothing so serious as a book, so I was delighted to have some time after I retired where I could think seriously about having a block of time,” she said. “That’s one thing you have to do in writing a book. You’ve got to live it; you’ve got to be able to focus and you have to get away from everything and just sort of live where you are in that book.”
It took Odom five years to complete her book. She considers herself fortunate because she did not face a long struggle to get the book published like many beginning authors do.
She met Ted Wojtasik, editor of St. Andrews University Press. Woktasik asked to see some of Odom’s writing and encouraged her to develop it into a book.
“I was very, very lucky because I didn’t have to go out and look for a publisher,” Odom said.
Odom’s book is written in Southern Gothic style and set in a small town called Oak Glen in the 1940s and 50s. Much like fellow Southern writer Rebecca Wells’ book “Little Alters Everywhere,” Odom’s book follows Erin Rose as she grows up with a doting father and a tumultuous relationship with her mother and the repercussions of that relationship.
Odom chose the topic based on other short pieces of fiction that she had written.
“I had written a lot of things about the past and made up stories, and I kept thinking about scenes in my childhood,” she said. “For just about every writer, their writing has roots in the writer’s memory, observations and experiences; but then the writer will take a little bit of it and take away some and add some imaginary details and transform the original content into something entirely itself.”
Given that Odom is a native of Laurinburg and has a love of great Southern authors like William Faulkner and other great contemporary writers like Sue Monk Kidd, author of “The Secret Life of Bees,” her topic should come as no surprise to anyone who knows her.
She used her experiences of life in a small town to develop composite characters and paint an accurate picture of life in a small town.
“For a setting, for local color, a lot of the details have roots here, but it’s not Laurinburg,” Odom said. “I used it because I had experienced a small town and all small Southern towns have the same characteristics. You [also] have to take in consideration the time. The time is just as important as the place.”
The book is written in first person because Odom believes that telling stories in the first person is more intimate and leads the reader to develop a relationship with the protagonist.
Odom will do two local book signings to launch the book.
The first is at the St. Andrew’s Writers Forum on Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. then on Feb. 17, she will be at Scotland County Memorial Library from noon to 1:30 p.m.
Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169