When you think of women and literature, who first comes to mind? Virginia Woolf? Laura Ingals Wilder of “Little House” fame? Madeline L’Engle with her award-winning “Wrinkle in Time”? Well, probably JK Rowling —and let’s not forget Jann Brett’s fabulously illustrated picture books.
No doubt about it, women play a large role in the world of publishing and books, and local women are right in there with great things to say, too. Some fiction. Some nonfiction. We are a diverse and clever bunch.
The sister team of Dixie Burrus and Mary Williams write together as Bronwyn Williams. No one does fictional local history better. While all their books are long out of print, there is a movement afoot that is bring back many of them. Called “Cape Hatteras Chronicles,” the first reissue is “Seaspell” It tells the story of a lighthouse keeper at Cape Hatteras.
Jennette Gray Finnegan also does a good job with local history. Her series is called “Lighthouse Kids” and these Hatteras Island kids time travel from the 1950s to visit the Hatteras of years past. So far, we have “Croatoan,” “Pirates” and “Legends and Lore.” “Surfmen and Shipwrecks” releases Fall of 2017.
Sharron Frink writes intrigue. Her latest contribution to local literature is “Uncharted Deception on the Outer Banks,” but don’t stop with just her newest. She has several other books that will keep you guessing.
Another reissue is Ellen Fulcher Cloud’s “Portsmouth: The Way it Was.” Located south and west of Ocracoke and accessible by water, Portsmouth Island is part of Cape Lookout National Seashore and is home to an abandoned, but restored, village.
“Outer Banks Shipwrecks: Graveyard of the Atlantic” by Mary Ellen Riddle shows us archival photos of many of the wrecks that inhabit local waters. Mary Ellen has good resources. She is the education curator at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras.
Deborah Dunn lives elsewhere, but she did great local research into the Lost Colony. Charles Ewen of archeology fame even blurb’d her book and loved it. “The Coffins” blends visions and voices from the past to spin quite the tale about what might have happened.
In the picture book department, “Pelican and Pelicant” is back. Local illustrator Kim Mosher teamed up with then-local writer Sarah Froeber to publish a book for young readers about courage, or the lack thereof.
Synonymous with ‘Outer Banks women writer’ is Suzanne Tate. Author of the illustrated children’s books, “Tell Tale Nature Series” — 34 books, so far — this year’s offering is Timmy T Frog.
“Strange Alchemy” by Gwenda Bond evokes the 104 souls who vanished as the Lost Colony — but now 104 folks have disappeared from modern day Roanoke Island. Are the two connected in some way? A spooky, mysterious novel with lots of history written for the young adult reader but equally as captivating for big people, too.
These are just the books that have hit the streets in 2017.
For many, many more books about and by Outer Banks women you can visit any of the local bookstores. Each island on the Outer Banks has its own locally owned independent bookstore.
We are so very literary out here.
• On Ocracoke, check out Books to Be Red.
• Hatteras Island boasts Buxton Village Books.
• Kitty Hawk, Duck and Corolla have Island Bookstore.
• Manteo and Duck offer Downtown Books and Duck’s Cottage.
Gee Gee Rosell is owner of Buxton Village Books, 47918 Hwy. 12, Buxton. For more information, visit buxtonvillagebooks.com or call (252) 995-4240.