University of Connecticut’s creative writing professor Susanne Davis’s novel, “The Appointed Hour,” embodies the triumphs and tribulations of the rural Connecticut demographic. It was an arduous 10 year undertaking that induced such a candid composition of inner reflection.
Reflecting upon her life growing up on a dairy farm in eastern Connecticut, Davis presents 12 interlinked short stories that capture the essence of a lifestyle foreign to most.
“It’s all about a changing role in America,” Davis said. “It comes very much from things I have watched people around me struggle with.”
The stories began through the voice of ancestors from the 1800’s. From there, descendants of those people begin articulating their stories. Plots progress from that of an exotic dancer to a tattoo artist, to a woman struggling from emotional trauma from a rape.
“As the stories started to accumulate I could see they were saying something altogether about changes in culture along with the goals between people who are very dear to my heart but struggle with opportunities in life and what happens as a result,” Davis said.
With deep roots grown through the experiences of her characters, Davis weaves in a great amount of personal rumination.
“What was going on collided with my own life and people that I know,” Davis said. “It seemed very important that I used my voice to help these people, who are often so marginalized, have their stories and voices heard.”
A significant source of such anecdotal expression comes from Davis’ brother Andrew. The novel was dedicated to him after he was found dead on his family farm.
“This book was all written before he was found. I think my brother’s spirit helped me find the right publisher,” Davis said. “A month after we buried him we found the publishers.”
Davis gives a great deal of thanks to her publisher, Cornerstone Press of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Davis said she was grateful to be involved in each step of the publishing process and found the experience to be seamless.
“Working with this press is amazing and it was so much fun. It came at the most perfect time,” Davis said. “It’s a student-run press and after all the years working with students, having students read the stories and living with characters was amazing. We made every decision together.”
Throughout the writing and publishing process, Davis found a distinct shift in her mode of creation.
“I used to write more from a cerebral place of trying to create a story as opposed to deciphering a story,” Davis said. “There was just a certain point in time my creative process changed to more allowing myself to be the channel to the story, for it to flow more freely, and that has made all the difference in the world for my writing.”
Along with recognizing one’s creative technique, Davis encourages anyone interested in the realm of fictional writing to never give up.
“Know yourself and don’t give up. You have to navigate by your own North Star and find your material, and it’s not to say don’t take advice from people,” Davis said. “I believed that the dream was possible and I never gave up. I think that it’s so important to follow our dreams.”
On Feb. 15, 6:30 to 7:30 pm, Davis will be at the UConn Barnes and Noble in Storrs Center for a reading and book signing.
Lillian Whittaker is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.