2nd Edition and new materials in this critically acclaimed story of 18-year-old Jennie and her siblings Ezra, Isaac, Katie, and "Little Bird" Anna May, growing up in a coal camp in 1920 West Virginia, amid the chaos and violence of the famous coal mine war era. The gorgeous Appalachian mountains and worker's rights' struggles are the backdrop of their adventures. During this time of union-busting, violence, and ethnic segregation, somehow they find time for romance, friendship, and laughter amid their grief.
What I loved:
WATERS RUN WILD is achingly beautiful. Fekete’s prose is infused with poetry, her characters incredibly real, and her descriptions vivid. In my opinion it is a love song to West Virginia without putting an unrealistic shine on it. The sheer beauty of this book gave me goosebumps.
LL: Why did you choose to release a second edition?
AF: The 2ndedition includes a new epilogue, prologue, revisions, and new (better) cover. The first publisher, Sweetgum Press, back in 2010, had no distributor so going with a different publisher with real distribution seemed like a good idea, especially since the reviews were so impressive. The book just deserved a bigger audience. I made additions because those who read it always had the same reaction about the beginning and ending of the book, so I felt those pieces were necessary to flesh out the story. Those new pieces were waiting to be included I think.
LL: What is your advice for aspiring writers?
AF: Read all the things. Then write all the things. Don’t care too much what others think, or you’ll write for them and you’ll be mediocre at best. If that’s what you want, fine, but if you want more, to stretch beyond mediocrity and into some level of brilliance then you must be an artist (not someone who plays to the crowd) and artists create from deep within—not from without—themselves. Art saves lives and even if it’s only yours, do it, even if you do it badly at first. Or forever. Who cares? Do it for the bliss it brings you while you’re writing and not to sell books or please your professor. THAT is when you’ll maybe reach genius; when the give-a-shit is flung out the window and you are possessed by the voices inside you. OR maybe not. Maybe you’ll just have a bunch of manuscripts that are terrible but kept you going through the darkest periods of your life. Either result is fine to me. (not really) Last bit of advice; don’t take yourself so seriously. Laugh at all of this. At all of us. It’s all bullshit anyway and we’re all going to die soon enough, so don’t be a coward. Write. Write. Write. Devil may care.
LL:Talk about one book that made an impact on you.
AF: Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine changed my life when I was about 15. He showed me the story of an ordinary kid could be strange, beautiful. He introduced me to detail. To magical realism. To the concept that within every moment of our lives is a story, even if it’s just opening the window on the first day of summer.
LL: Have you ever met a writer you idolized? What was it like?
AF: Yes. Ann Pancake. Intimidating. I think I said 5 words while listening to her talk to my older, accomplished friends as we all sat together. But I tend to try and shut up more when I’m around those I am certain know far more than I. I’ll never forget when she asked how my writing was going and I told her I was having a block with my novel’s lead character and she said, “Has she stopped speaking to you?” I just nodded. Shrugged. Surprised by such a strange question. But later, upon closer examination, I learned something just within her brief question; let the story tell itself to me.The characters will speak if they’re real; believe they are. Then, shut up and listen.
LL: Which talent do you wish you had?
AF: There are talents I don’t have? Have you MET me?! (that’s a joke…..mostly)
LL: What's your secret or not-so-secret superpower?
AF: Secret from everyone but best friends and family.
Ask my teenaged basketball-player nephew and he’ll tell you my advice to him when shooting or catching is to let go of caring if he makes it, to not try, and in fact, to say the mantra “I don’t care! I don’t care! I don’t care!” while he runs toward the basket. Why? Because I’ve decided not caring about the result is magic.
I cannot throw a ball or catch a ball unless it’s completely unintentional. If I TRY to catch a ball? It’s hitting me in the face. Every. Single. Time. If I TRY to throw a ball to you? It’s not even making it within yards of your person.
My magical unintentional catching superpowers are like this: If I (or you) knock something off a shelf accidentally, or something comes flying at my face unexpectedly, I WILL catch it, no matter the angle, no matter the weight, no matter the speed.
My magical throwing powers go like this: While cooking, if I haphazardly throw a balled-up paper towel or pepper stem over my shoulder, that thing is going in the very center of the small trash can that is all the way on the other side of the room AND it’ll slip right into the exact center of a (tiny) empty box inside said faraway trash can. Will it even touch the insides of the box? Oh, heck no, it won’t.
I display these magnificent superpowers so regularly my friends notice it and cackle.
I am the champion of unintentional catching and throwing. Is it useless? Almost entirely. Unless I save a toe from a speeding dropped pickle jar. (Which I’ve done, actually)
I shouldn’t have said all this, y’all might think I’m insane. Oh wait, I spend hours and hours writing imaginary stories about imaginary people. Nevermind.
LL: What is one thing that's always guaranteed to make you laugh?
AF: My brother, and my nieces and nephew have very distinct, boisterous laughs. Anytime I hear them, even if the joke isn’t all that funny, even if I don’t hear the joke, their laughing gets me giggling. It’s a great thing.
Follow Andrea Fekete on her website, Facebook, and Instagram. Buy WATERS RUN WILD on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, or your local bookstore. If a new book isn't in your budget, recommend it to your library.
"Andrea Fekete has one of the sharpest ears and most deft hands at re-creating Appalachian dialect I have ever seen." Ann Pancake, author of Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley, Given Ground, and Strange as this Weather has Been, winner of the 2007 Weatherford Prize Award and a Kirkus Review Top Ten Fiction Book of 2007.
"Filled with poetic language that reads like my grandparents' dreams, Waters Run Wild, Andrea Fekete's first novel, pays homage to such great southern and Appalachian works as Their Eyes Were Watching God and Storming Heaven. Her characters are at once fresh and traditional, the details of setting authentic yet original; and her protagonist is both naive and wise. The plot moves spontaneously and guilelessly like life in West Virginia's hills during the days of coal company stores, scrip and early union activity. Here's one to rival the classics of Appalachian literature." -Ron Houchin, author of The Man Who Saws us in Half and The Devil's Trill
Copyright © 2023 Lara Lillibridge
Public domain imagery courtesy of Snappygoat.com