Author’s Corner: Appalachian writers collaborate on 'Witches of the Wood'

Holly Viers • Dec 1, 2019 at 7:30 PM

Although Halloween has already passed, it’s never too late to indulge in a spooky story or, in this case, eight short ones.

Back in October, Big Small Town Books published “Witches of the Wood,” a collection of terrifying tales from authors with Appalachian roots.

Dustin Street, owner of Big Small Town Books, is one of those writers, along with Patrick Brian Cooley, Amy N. Edwards, Bekah Harris, S.S. Marshall, Denver Muncey, Tracy Sue Needham and J. Warren Welch.

“The goal with this anthology was to have stories that are set in Appalachia,” Street said, “and I really also wanted the authors to have some connection to Appalachia, so either living somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains or having hailed from somewhere, even if they don’t live here now.”

How did the book come together?

Street started working on the book two years ago and aimed to get it finished by last Halloween, although time constraints pushed it back to this year. To find authors for the book, he posted an all-call on Facebook and asked interested writers to pitch a story idea to him.

“Some of them had already written parts of what they wanted to do, and some of them had stories kind of already ready,” Street said. “They just didn’t really have a place to put them until this project came along, and then some of them pitched completely new ideas that they hadn’t even started writing yet.”

Street received 35 to 40 pitches and narrowed them down to those he felt best fit the theme of the project. The authors spent the next two years working on their stories, and editor Amy Renee put the finishing touches on the collection, Street said.

What can readers expect?

Unlike the name suggests, Street said the book is not solely comprised of stories about witches. Rather, he said, the title became a metaphor for “the things that scare us in general.”

“There are two stories that contain references to witches — mine is one of them — and then there are other stories,” Street said. “If I had to summarize what all of the stories have in common, it’s what lurks in the human psyche, the things that we don’t want to face that are there anyway within ourselves, and those things are things that can create fear in the outside world when we let them come to the surface.”

Where can the book be purchased?

The book is available on Amazon and other online book retailers in paperback and e-book form, though other formats are being explored, Street said. He also hopes to stock the book at local retailers soon.

How have readers responded?

Street said he and some of the other authors have held book signings in Kingsport and Johnson City, both of which were well-attended.

“If anyone is interested in hosting us for a book signing, we would be open to that,” Street said. “We’re willing to come and do events, even if it’s just one author that they want to come and speak. That’s definitely something that we’re all interested in doing.”

For more information, visit www.bigsmalltownbooks.com.