The Maryland Writers’ Association created the Writers’ Round Table Program to encourage writers, poets, playwrights and authors through monthly articles and activities.|
The Notable Maryland Author articles and associated Fun With Words writers’ prompts are the centerpiece of the program.
Each month, Southern Maryland News will feature a Maryland Writer’s Association article about an author. Marylanders are encouraged to read the articles and try their hand at the writing prompts each month.
The MWA is a 33-year-old statewide association, with 12 regional chapters, dedicated to supporting and encouraging writers, poets, playwrights, and authors.
For more information, go to www.MarylandWriters.org
Author: Madison Smartt Bell
Genre: Historical fiction – The story takes place in the past and involves actual historical figures or historical events. Historical novels capture the details of the time period as accurately as possible for authenticity, including social norms, manners, customs and traditions.
Sample reading list: “All Souls Rising,” “Master of the Crossroads,” “The Stone That the Builder Refused,” “The Washington Square Ensemble,” “Waiting for the End of the World” and the Baltimore-based “Ten Indians.”
“Writing is daydreaming with a pen in my hand.” – Madison Smartt Bell
Born Aug. 1, 1957 in Nashville, Tenn., Madison Smartt Bell is an American novelist earned his bachelor of arts from Princeton in 1979 and his masters in English and creative writing from Hollins College in 1981 and began teaching creative writing. He taught for the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars.
In 1984, he joined Goucher College where he was a professor of English and then Director of the Kratz Center for Creative Writing from 1999 to 2008. In 2008, he received the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Bell is described as a “southern writer” both by “inheritance and in his love for language, emphasis on storytelling, fondness for eccentric characters, and sense of the mysterious power of place.” His work has earned respectful critical attention and high praise for its energy and artistry. He is particularly known for “All Souls’ Rising,” “Master of the Crossroads” and “The Stone That the Builder Refused,” novels that focus on Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution.
Bell received the Lillian Smith Award, Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, and was a finalist for the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award. In 1996, Granta magazine called him one of “the best American novelists under 40”. His books have been translated into eight languages. He is also a literary journalist and contributes to The New York Times, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, and The Boston Globe.
Bell is married to poet Elizabeth Spires and they have one daughter.
Fun With Words
The MWA invites you to have fun writing historical fiction like Madison Smartt Bell. In just 100 words, place your character in an accurate historical context involving rebellion or revolt against governmental or societal injustice.
Title your work and send to https://marylandwriters.org/Notable_Maryland_Authors by Sept. 22 to receive an MWA Fun With Words submission certificate. Selected responses to be published with next month’s article as well as posted on the MWA website.
Last month readers were asked to have fun writing young adult historical fiction like Jerdine Nolen and to create a character age 12 to 18 and place them in a historical context, and show family love and support helping in their situation. Here are some responses:
The Long Roll
“VOLUNTEERS NEEDED” a banner read and the boy knew his trudge from Charles County to Washington was over. Under maple branches that looked like switches, men crowded a recruiting post in answer to President Lincoln’s call.
A captain used a hogshead, warm smell of dried tobacco, as a desk.
“Boy, since you’re from Southern Maryland, why not drum for Traitor Davis?”
The boy carried an answer his parents had taught him. “No human being should own another human being!”
Silence struck the crowd. All stared at the boy. None spoke.
The captain nodded as though seeing the truth of it.
Lawrence McGuire, Waldorf
Henrietta Belle whistled Dixie, used words like “fiddlesticks” and had no use for no-count scalawags. Today, April 12, 1861, was Henrietta’s debut night at the Charleston Cotillion Hall overlooking Fort Sumter.
Henrietta was whipping up a mess of vittles for the hootenanny just as Big Daddy had taught her … but things soon went haywire [cue ominous music]. Henrietta’s pecan pie went to burnin’, her fried okra spilt all over tarnation, and flames from her griddle cakes commenced the curtains a-burnin’.
There was fixin’ to be a mighty conflagration.
Henrietta reckoned she needed some help from down yonder so she stuck her head out the door and yelled: “Fire!”
The rest, I do declare, is history.
Steve Baker, Hughesville
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