Author’s Corner: Kingsport resident publishes first book

Holly Viers • Dec 18, 2019 at 2:00 PM

KINGSPORT — After more than a decade of writing, Kingsport native Ellen Barker has accomplished her longtime dream of publishing a novel.

The book, called “As Regards Mrs. Graham,” is a story of family pride, secrecy and the various manifestations of nurturing and forgiveness. Barker recommends the book to local readers who are interested in how people of this region interact with one another.

“My late husband really encouraged me over the years to do this, and I would bounce ideas off of him,” Barker said. “So I was just determined to do it, and I had lots of help and encouragement from friends and family.”

What’s your background?

Barker grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, but moved to this area to study at Emory & Henry College. She lived in Gate City and Hiltons before relocating to Kingsport, where she currently resides.

Though she’s worked in various fields, Barker said writing is something she’s always wanted to do.

“I was a social worker and a Realtor and just always had in the back of my mind that I’d like to write,” Barker said. “So this idea came upon me about 12 years ago, and I finally got it done.”

Where did the idea for the book come from?

After working on it off and on over the last 12 years, Barker published the book in September of this year. Based in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia in the 20th century, the book was inspired by a story Barker heard growing up.

“My dad grew up in Southwest Virginia, and his family were great storytellers,” Barker said. “I heard different stories down through the years, and this is based on a tiny little snippet of something that I heard from some of the relatives that I found so interesting that I couldn’t quit thinking about it.”

She made up a beginning and end to that story and enlisted the help of John Barrett to design the book cover. The book was self-published on Amazon and is available for purchase in paperback and e-book formats.

“It’s about family and forgiveness and who is your family, not necessarily your blood family, and our perceptions of ourselves and how far off they may be from other people’s perceptions of us,” Barker said.

What’s next?

Barker said she doesn’t have any concrete plans to write more books. For now, she’s satisfied with finally checking book-writing off her bucket list.

“This was something I just wanted to do and say I’d done it,” Barker said.