Why Did I Write Southern-Fried Woolf?

Only ten days now until my second novel, Southern-Fried Woolf, comes out! I’m so excited, and yet as I said on a book marketing call today, “I’m so f*cking tired.” Though it elicited laughter, I meant it. (P.S. Profanity is part of the company culture and is perfectly acceptable, nearly encouraged.)

A few things to share with you, very exciting things. The first is, I ended up a runner up in the Page 100 Competition! What??? Yippee! Many thanks to the too-kind Louise Walters of Louise Walters Books. I’m so honored and thrilled.

And…more fun! I received a silver award from Literary Titan. I am so pleased. I submitted my book for a review over there, not realizing it was also automatically entered into an awards program. What a lovely surprise!

It occurs to me that you might enjoy my preface to the book that explains why I wrote it and what I hope to have achieved with it. So here it is:

The book by Virginia Woolf that I most want to read is one that, alas, I cannot, because it does not exist in final form. She conceived of a bold experiment, a novel-essay, that she wanted to call The Pargiters. It would have been just what it sounds like: the alternating of fiction and fact in one book concerning women’s rights (or lack thereof) and their intimate lives.

No one knows for certain why she abandoned the attempt, but it couldn’t have come naturally to such an accomplished novelist, switching between the two in the same book. And it’s not as if she didn’t have her say about women’s rights: all of her writing is full of challenges to society’s viewpoint and expectations regarding women. Ultimately, however, she folded the novel portion of her novel-essay efforts into the 1880 chapter of The Years without finishing her initially conceived project.

This novel of mine is intended, first of all, as an homage. This is my love letter to Woolf’s writing. It’s also an invitation to those unfamiliar with Woolf to learn a bit about her. I am no Woolf scholar, though I deeply admire her writing, fiction and otherwise. There is such beauty, such depth of thinking and feeling, to her work. Such precision. I love her daring style, how she attempted so many forms of literature. I learn every time I open one of her novels. I learn about not only writing, but about what it is to be human.

Woolf’s novels are not immediately accessible, at least they weren’t to this reader, who grew up primarily on Reader’s Digest Condensed books and Harlequin Romance novels, on the exciting boxes of eclectic books my father brought home from auctions. I didn’t encounter Woolf until college, and it took discipline to settle down with her essays. Then I read Orlando, that strange and wonderful novel, and I didn’t know what to make of it or Woolf, though I knew the writing was gorgeous and that it spoke beyond the obvious, something I craved.

It wasn’t until I read Lighthouse that I quit being too intimidated of Woolf to read deeply. I re-read the novel numerous times, and even now I return to it for poetic prose and wisdom. It’s as much mine now as anyone’s, something that can (and should) be said of all of the arts. That’s one of the reasons I married Woolf with country music in my novel.

Whether before or after you read Southern-Fried Woolf, I invite, nay, implore you to read Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. And while you can read my novel and fully understand it without reading Lighthouse, these books speak directly to one another, an open case of intertextuality.

Why the title Southern-Fried Woolf? First of all, yes, I am worried that people might think I can’t spell “wolf” when they see my novel’s title. But I wanted to combine two very unlike things, creating a fusion of literature, if you will. Since my husband is a musician and we lived in Nashville for five years, I thought Woolf and country music would be very different sensibilities to rub together. That excited me. It’s a way of honoring two very different sides of myself, too.

And I really wanted to write about country music. The richness of storytelling in the genre speaks to me, and having been brought up in the South for part of my life, it has been with me since childhood. I’m especially interested in songwriting. Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, on and on. Classic country forever!

While I don’t pretend that what I have written reaches Woolf’s original intent in writing a novel/essay (mine is very much a novel with a light essay component), it does match mine, and I am thankful to have, as painter Lily Briscoe does in To the Lighthouse, “had my vision.”

Also, my book is officially on preorder, if you’re so inclined.

The best of weekends to you!

Drēma

© [Drema Drudge], 2023. No part of this site, Artful Fiction, may be reproduced in whole or in part in any manner without the permission of the copyright owner.

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