Friday, May 31, 2019

Friday Feature: Jennifer Hallmark: Why I Love True Southern Fiction

 This is the week for guests on the porch swing! 
Today, I'd like to welcome fellow author Jennifer Hallmark, whose book Jessie's Hope releases on June 17.
The woods are full of regional writers, and it is the great horror of every serious 
Southern writer that he will become one of them.” 
(Flannery O’Connor)

The Deep South: South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and of course, Alabama. That’s the definition I found online. Some added in Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Arkansas, Texas, and Florida—but everyone knows Florida isn’t totally Southern since its population is from everywhere.
What is true Southern Fiction? Look at Flannery O’Connor’s quote again. Anyone can write a book and throw some Southern lingo and sweet tea into it and call the work Southern fiction. To me, fiction of that sort is more of what O’Connor calls a regional book.
True Southern fiction has to be lived. One must mingle with the people of the Deep South, taste black-eyed peas, embrace the aroma of jambalaya, the texture of freshly-picked cotton, the humidity, the Bible belt, and the redneck. Southern fiction is about family, not just one generation but how past ancestors shape each and every character.
You must be able to write in such a way where it’s not like reading about a foreign country, for those who’ve never set a foot below Kentucky. It must have its own flavor but be relatable. One must be able to feel the emotions and live the story as if it could happen to them. Readers need to feel the sweat, swat the mosquitos, and relish the fried okra right along with the characters.
Only then do you have a story that is immersed in the culture. That’s the kind of Southern fiction I read and I try desperately hard to write.
New to Southern fiction? Classic writers include Harper Lee, Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, Margaret Mitchell, and Pat Conroy. And some of my favorites are authors I call friends: Eva Marie Everson, Alice J. Wisler, Shellie Arnold, and Lindsey Brackett.
Check out any and all of these to put an overall face and voice to Southern fiction.
My debut Southern fiction release, Jessie’s Hope, published by Firefly Southern fiction (an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas), is now available for pre-order. Here's a little bit about the book.
Years ago, an accident robbed Jessie Smith of her mobility. It also stole her mom and alienated her from her father. When Jessie's high school sweetheart Matt Jansen proposes, her parents’ absence intensifies her worry that she cannot hold on to those she loves.
With a wedding fast approaching, Jessie's grandfather Homer Smith, has a goal to find the perfect dress for "his Jessie," one that would allow her to forget, even if for a moment, the boundaries of her wheelchair. But financial setbacks and unexpected sabotage hinder his plans.
Determined to heal from her past, Jessie initiates a search for her father. Can a sliver of hope lead to everlasting love when additional obstacles--including a spurned woman and unpredictable weather--highjack Jessie's dream wedding?
About the author
Jennifer Hallmark writes Southern fiction. Both her website, Alabama-Inspired Fiction, and the group blog she co-founded (Inspired Prompt), focus on her books, love of the South, and helping writers. She’s published 200+ internet articles and interviews, short stories in several magazines, and has co-authored three book compilations. Jennifer sends out a monthly newsletter, which you can subscribe to here. You can visit her on FacebookFacebook author pageTwitter, and Pinterest.

Jennifer and her husband, Danny, have spent their married life in Alabama and have a basset hound, Max. Their daughter Mandy has two beautiful daughters, Ava, and Sadie, and a handsome son, Zeke. Their son, Jonathan, is married to Kristie and they have two beautiful daughters, Phoebe Jill and Rozlyn Claire, and a handsome son, Cohen.

When she isn't babysitting or gardening, you can find her at her desk writing fiction or working on one of her two blogs. She also loves reading detective fiction from the Golden Age and viewing movies like LOTR or Star Wars. Sometimes you can even catch her watching American Ninja Warrior.

Jennifer is represented by Cyle Young of the Hartline Literary Agency.

If you'd like to preorder Jessie’s Hope, you can find it here.


  1. Thank you so much, Lisa, for letting me drop by and visit!

  2. Hi, Lisa! You have a lovely blog. Love the blue waves. Jennifer, I enjoyed learning more about your story.