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Big Doings in Small Towns

Please join us for the All But True event on September 21, 2023, 6:30 p.m. (ET), featuring Shannon Bowring and Janice Deal. Both authors have just published character-driven fiction about small-town America.

This is an ONLINE event via Zoom. Register to receive the Zoom link by going to the Eventbrite page.

The Road to Dalton, the debut novel from Shannon Bowring, bears out what she herself has said about small towns: “Your story is never just your story. It’s mingled in with everyone else’s.” In this quiet but compelling tale of a mill town in Maine, the multigenerational characters form what looks like an easy network of neighborliness and friendship. Below the surface, though, lie plenty of secrets—some that everybody actually knows and accepts, some that may become explosive. As the novel progresses, an unforeseen event sets the community reeling, and everyone must reassess what they know and think about their neighbors.

“…great depths of pain behind small, daily gestures of human connection.… An impressive debut bursting with detail and love for the town it brings to life.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“The kind of book that too often flies under the literary radar these days: measured, wise, beautiful.” —Richard Russo, Pulitzer-prize-winning author of Empire Falls

“What a rare gift Bowring has for sly humor and nuance as she paints these unforgettable characters in their rawest pain and sweetest joy. A genius, stealthy love story and a beautiful ode to family and friendship.” —Susan Conley, author of Landslide

In Strange Attractors: The Ephrem Stories, Janice Deal's third book of fiction, Ephrem, Illinois, seems a friendly, familiar town—it draws you right in, even if you don’t need supplies at the mall or a snack at Brat Station. As you come closer, you discover people who are complex and unpredictable. Past traumas linger, and loneliness can turn a person strange. Yet there’s much affection here, small and large examples of human kindness. For years, Janice Deal has been publishing award-winning stories about Ephrem. Now assembled for the first time, they offer a masterful snapshot of life in today’s small-town America.

“Ephrem, Illinois, IS America, with its winking welcome lights that don’t stay on all night, its jaunty, sinister mall, and its legendary lake-fish, ‘Jingles.’ The characters in these linked stories will unsettle you, and break your heart—some by the depths of their courage, and others by the moments they break, becoming unwitting agents of change.… Flannery O’Connor would recognize and applaud the vivid, muscular and powerful vision of Janice Deal.” —Marjorie Sandor, author of Portrait of My Mother, Who Posed Nude in Wartime (Winner of the National Jewish Book Award in Fiction)

“In the tradition of Winesburg, Ohio, this hauntingly beautiful collection of linked stories by Janice Deal features vivid, unforgettable characters.… Deal has created her own strange attractor, a world that pulls the reader in and leaves an indelible mark.” —Jan English Leary, author of Thicker Than Blood, Skating on the Vertical, and Town and Gown

About the Authors

Shannon Bowring’s work has appeared in numerous journals, including Best Small Fictions, and has been nominated for a Pushcart and a Best of the Net. She holds a BA in English/Creative Writing from the University of Maine and an MFA from USM Stonecoast, where she served editor-in-chief for the Stonecoast Review. Shannon is a Contributing Editor for Aspiring Author, a site offering business advice to writers in all stages of their careers. She is represented by Sobel Weber Associates, Inc.

Janice Deal's previous books are the story collection The Decline of Pigeons (2013), a finalist in the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, and the novel The Sound of Rabbits (2023), a finalist for both the Many Voices Project annual competition and the Black Lawrence Press Big Moose Prize. Stories from her new collection, Strange Attractors, have won The Moth Short Story Prize and the Cagibi Macaron Prize. Janice lives in the Chicago area.

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