In this episode we talk with fiction and nonfiction author Karen Salyer McElmurray, a native of eastern Kentucky and author of four books and a co-edited collection. Our conversation opens with our discussion of her memoir, Surrendered Child, which chronicles her teenage pregnancy in early 1970's Kentucky, giving up her son for adoption, and reuniting with him as an adult. This heart-wrenching exploration of motherhood also finds its way into her most recent book, Wanting Radiance, a haunting novel that winds its way through time and a family that broken by murder and lost love. Written in prose that reads like poetry, Wanting Radiance is a book you will want to read if you haven't already.
Karen's memoir Surrendered Child, won the AWP Award Series for Creative Nonfiction and was listed as a “notable book” by the National Book Critics Circle. She is also the author of Motel of the Stars, Editor's Pick from Oxford American, and a Lit Life Book of the Year. Strange Birds in the Tree of Heaven (University of Georgia Press), won the Lillie Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing. Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean is co-edited with Adrian Blevins, from Ohio University Press. Her essays have won the Annie Dillard Prize, the New Southerner Prize, the Orison Magazine Anthology Award and have several times been Notable in Best American Essays. A collection of her essays is forthcoming from Iris Books. Her newest book, a novel called Wanting Radiance, from University Press of Kentucky is now available. https://www.karensalyermcelmurray.com/books