NEW NOVEL EXPLORES SMALL TOWN VALUES AMIDST TRAGEDY
Blood Clay is a profoundly moving and beautifully written novel about a community torn apart by tragedy. Valerie Nieman is a writer of remarkable talent, and she has given us a book that, once read, will be hard for any reader to forget.— Ron Rash, author of Serena
WINSTON-SALEM, NC — A gripping story that readers say they "can't put down," a crime drama that reflects on the nature of home and community, and a lyrical look into the changing face of the New South - Blood Clay by acclaimed novelist and poet Valerie Nieman is all three.
“Blood Clay has it all,” writes Elizabeth Stuckey-French. “The novel’s audacious and gripping plot begins with a shotgun-blast of a scene in which a horrible dog attack sends reverberations through a small North Carolina town and the rest of the book. Val Nieman has written what is destined to become a classic novel of Southern life.”
Nieman's latest novel, called by Jane Alison “both a tense, plot-driven story about complicated issues of race and guilt, and a meditation on solitude, history, and ways of living,” centers on Tracey Gaines, who has moved to rural Saul County to escape the wreckage of a divorce, becoming a teacher at an alternative school. She devotes herself to renovating an old farmhouse but finds she can’t as easily build connections in this new place. When the community splits over her stubborn insistence on truth-telling, she finds an ally in Dave Fordham, a native son who struck out for new opportunities, only to face his own trauma and a forced return home.
“I grew up in rural New York State, homesteaded a hill farm in West Virginia, started a new life in the North Carolina Piedmont. I know how difficult it can be to establish oneself in a settled community,” said Nieman – who noted that her family name derives from the German for “new person” or stranger. “Working for more than two decades as a small-town journalist, I covered deaths and trials, stories of human connection and disconnection. Those events have informed my writing ever since.”
The author of a collection of short stories, Fidelities, and two earlier novels, she has received an NEA creative writing fellowship, two Elizabeth Simpson Smith prizes in fiction, and the Greg Grummer Prize in poetry. She is a graduate of West Virginia University and the M.F.A. program at Queens University of Charlotte. Nieman teaches writing at NC A&T State University in Greensboro, NC, and is the poetry editor for Prime Number magazine.
A study guide suitable for classroom use and discussion groups is now available, and Nieman will schedule visits to book clubs and classes in the region, or do Skype chats upon request. Her schedule is available at http://www.valnieman.com/ or by following valnieman on Twitter or Facebook.
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