Thoughts in Flow
An Interview with Suzanne Hudson
by Charlotte J. Robertson
Brad Watson, finalist
for the 2003 National Book Awards, described her writing as “Bawdy,
grotesque, beautiful, gruesome, ribald, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny…”
Suzanne Hudson has demanded the respect of readers of Southern Literature in
her novel In a
This author, bold with
her words, was timid when I first met her 4 years ago at a party of literati
Suzanne’s pieces have also appeared in: Penthouse, New
Writers, Eastern Shore Quarterly, and The Southern Bard.
In addition to the Penthouse Award, she has also won a Hackney Award from
Birmingham-Southern for short fiction.
was a John Gardner Fiction Book Award finalist, and
When were you first aware of your writing talent?
My high school English teacher, Florence Fouts, wrote nice
things on my papers. I thought, at the time, that she did this on
everyone’s papers. I took a Short Story class at the
When were you first published?
story was published when I was an undergraduate student at
Speak to us on the Penthouse New Writers Award.
Sonny Brewer brought to class a Penthouse magazine offering real money, $5,500, for the winner of a short story contest and we all entered. After a while, I heard that I was one of 12 finalists in the competition. It wasn’t long after that publishers and agents began to call. William Gay teases me about coming out ahead of him and Sonny in this contest which he also entered.
What happened as a result of that contest?
I contracted Ellen Levine to represent me as my agent. I
had written a novel, Salvation, which she shopped in
What did you do for those 25 years?
I taught in
So, how is it that we now have your excellent writing to enjoy?
My old friend from writing class, Sonny Brewer, had gotten involved in the publishing business and convinced Joe Taylor of Livingston Press to publish Opposable Thumbs, a collection of my short stories in 2001. Sonny also included my short story “The Fall of the Nixon Administration” in the anthology, Stories from the Blue Moon Café, and “The Seamstress” in Blue Moon II. I will be included in an offspring of the Blue Moon anthologies with the working title, The Alumni Grille – also the brainchild of Sonny to be published by MacAdams/Cage. David Poindexter of MacAdams/Cage is the publisher of the Blue Moon series and liked my work. When we took Blue Moon I on the road with a kickoff at Lemuria Bookstore in Jackson, Mississippi, David let me know he was interested in publishing me, and I’d always wanted to write a story inspired by the murder of the woman at a hunting camp near my home town of Brewton, Alabama – thus the conception of In a Temple of Trees.
Tell more about how In
My gentleman friend, Ben, and I were riding in the car, listening to a radio preacher when he went missing in the middle of programming. We began to fictionalize where he’d gone and I realized this was the making of a novel. I tied in the imagined story of what had happened at a hunting camp near Brewton when I was 12 or 13. Prominent men of the community had had whiskey and women at the hunting camp and one woman was abused to the point of death. I thought it extremely unjust and sad that the case was hushed up and never went to court. Having grown up in the culture represented in the novel, it was easy to imagine a group of men out of control – operating with a pack mentality.
What has been the reaction of Brewton to In a Temple of Trees?
Most of the rumored participants are deceased. The reaction of the community has been mixed – most of the young people would like to see justice done while the older generation expresses a desire to let the past die. I became more involved in the facts of the inspiring story after the children of the woman who died came to one of my readings. Looking into the facts, I’ve theorized what I believe to be the truth regarding what is 100 times worse than what I had imagined. I am intrigued by the story and, through research, would really like to vindicate the woman who died.
How do you juggle your career as an educator and your career as a writer?
I do most of my writing in the summers and on weekends. When I can, I go into seclusion with my dog in a rustic cabin in Pickens.
In talking with one of
your creative writing students, the daughter of John Sledge, Book Editor for
the Mobile Register, I was told what a super teacher you are.
Describe your creative writing classes.
© 2003, Charlotte J. Robertson, All Rights Reserved