Sunday, April 26, 2015

Writers’ workshop fuels author’s goal of publication

The Stephens Branch Library is a favorite writing spot for Davis author Adair McPherson, who is searching for an agent to help get her novel, "The Devil's Footpath," published. The busy mom of five also rented office space downtown or drove to Winters to work in a friend's quiet house. Sometimes, she even sat in her car to write. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

From page A1 | August 21, 2013 |

Adair McPherson, fresh from the Wild Acres Writers’ Workshop in her home state of North Carolina, is full of energy — again — for a very daunting task: getting her manuscript published. Finding an agent and getting “The Devil’s Footpath” published may be as difficult as getting the piece written — and that was no easy task.

For the past eight years, Davis resident McPherson has been writing and rewriting her book while at the same time navigating the demands that come from raising a family of five — four boys and a girl — with her husband, Greg.

“For three years I used to get up at 5:30 a.m. and write for an hour and a half — it was the only time no one wanted a piece of me,” she said.

During another period of time she rented office space downtown to use as her office and one year she drove to Winters daily to work in a friend’s quiet house. Sometimes she wrote at the library and sometimes she would just leave the house and sit in the car and write.

Finally she had a body of work, a story, that she could call finished.

“I think it’s a good story and I’m proud of it,” she said in a recent interview.

“The Devil’s Footpath”  is an historical novel set in Sierra Valley, Calif., in 1864 and New Bern, N.C., in 1824. The story hinges on the life of Zipporah Hess Maury, a violinist who, unlike her namesake (Moses’ wife), cannot quietly endure her 40 years in the wilderness and disappear.

When the story begins, Zipporah is an old eccentric skirting the edges of Sierra Valley. Ranchers call her Wild Ramp Mary after the garland of onions she wears around her neck and she seems harmless enough until she steals a rancher’s baby. So isolated that she lives in an abandoned gold mine, she gropes toward human connection and a way home. Her’s is a cautionary tale.

“She has made a mistake, but she doesn’t know how to correct it,” McPherson said.

In fact, Zipporah needs to travel back East, back to the early days of her marriage, in order to reconnect.

McPherson graduated from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, got her master’s at Utah State and then a Ph.D. in psychology. She intended to follow an academic career, but life got in the way. She married in 1981 and after three moves and five kids she realized that the academic life was not going to work for her.

“I wanted to figure out something to do on my own schedule and it seemed like writing might work,” she said.

But she would be the first to admit that it’s difficult to stay positive if no one is offering to publish your manuscript.

That’s why the writers’ workshop she attended in July was such a boon.

She respected those leading the workshop — like novelist Ron Rash — and appreciated the comments made when her novel was work-shopped.

“I learned that I was really close (to completion) and they helped me identify the areas that needed more work. I also learned that a little (western Carolina) dialect goes a long way and … that I brought my secondary characters to life quickly. My use of the third-person omniscient voice was seamless.”

McPherson said it was wonderful spending a week with writers talking about their craft.

“It just stirs the creative juices,” she said.

The next step?

“The same step that I have been taking for several years. I will be sending out new query letters to agents — I’m just going to keep on going and it’s heartening to have a group of people say that it’s good.”

She can be reached at [email protected].



Elisabeth Sherwin

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    Davis team wins world robotics championship

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Nepal quake death toll exceeds 1,800

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    Spring storm delivers late rain, snow to Northern California

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    At the Pond: Plenty of pleasures in our bioregion

    By Jean Jackman | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Pioneering organic chef presents her memoir Monday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Suspect in UCD assault arrested

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A4

    Dog park marks anniversary with cleanup

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Rail-safety bill passes Senate committee

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Free Family Bike Clinic set Sunday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Watch them in action

    By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A5

    Stocks rise on tech earnings; Nasdaq adds to record

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

    Dodd speaks as part of public policy series

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

    We did it (together)!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10

    $2.72 million judgment ordered against Dollar Tree Stores

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    Fly Fishers to hear about advanced streamer tactics on Tuesday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    Bicycle activist will speak Monday at Hall of Fame

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    UCD hosts bike auction Saturday, May 2

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery



    New ways of giving locally and beyond

    By Marion Franck | From Page: B6

    Study questions accuracy of tumor gene mapping

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    Those texts still linger

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B6

    Mayor’s Corner: A spirit of renewal permeates Davis

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

    More work to do for a safe Picnic Day

    By Our View | From Page: A12

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A12

    Poker proceeds help youths

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

    Invest in water of the future

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

    Water, water everywhere?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

    Anaheim, where The Force is with you

    By Sebastian Onate | From Page: A13 | Gallery



    Grizzlies dominate young Blue Devils on Senior Night

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Energy, fan-friendly happenings highlight UCD spring football game

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Blue Devil golfers capture CAL Invitational title

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Davis gets two baseball wins in two days

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1

    UCD roundup: Aggies reach water polo semifinals

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

    Blue Devil swimmers are up to the challenge

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    DHS softball struggles continue against Sheldon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12 | Gallery

    Babich brings the heat as DHS girls stick it to Oak Ridge

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12 | Gallery





    History comes alive in ‘The Sacramento Picture’

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A1 | Gallery



    Big Italian food, sports bar to fill Little Prague

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    Yolo County real estate sales

    By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A7

    Davis Roots hires new general manager

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

    Comcast announces speed upgrade

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8



    Valente Forrest Dolcini

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Whitney Joy Engler

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6



    Comics: Sunday, April 26, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B8