PRESS RELEASE Yonder Breaks the Morning
Mississippi Author/Illustrator Laurie Parker’s
Short Description: Set in Oxford, Mississippi in December 2014, Yonder Breaks the Morning is the second novel by author/artist Laurie Parker. Ingeniously and poetically woven, it’s a tale of three complete strangers:
Glover Longest, an eighty-nine-year-old widower and World War Two veteran who enjoys picking up pecans from under the tree in his yard on Highway 334 and drinking coffee with the boys at the Beacon.
Olivia Overbee, a prima facie shallow, fifty-one-year-old housewife and mom, who finds every last thing her husband does annoying, and who likes her nativity set as she does everything—lined up just so.
Dunbar Kirby, an intellectually gifted and musically talented twenty-year-old Ole Miss junior who aspires to eventually go to law school, but is currently mostly interested in partying with his fraternity.
The daily lives of these Mississippians are chronicled in a way that captures how there is always more to people than we realize, and as we follow this trio of characters, their individual stories end up coming together in unexpected and uncanny ways.
Yonder Breaks the Morning is a refreshingly original southern story, a tribute to our precious and dwindling population of WWII veterans, a touching Christmas tale, and most of all, a poignant account that reminds us that beneath the seemingly mundane there is something forever mysterious and miraculous, and people from different walks of life and generations are sometimes more linked than they realize. Fans of Parker’s The Turtle Saver will appreciate what she has crafted in prose with this one—a heartwarming, Deep South version of It’s A Wonderful Life that will have readers smiling AND reaching for the tissue box!
The Grove, The Square, City Grocery, The Hoka, The Warehouse, The Beacon, Rebel Deli, Kiamie’s Bowling Alley, Neilson’s, Duvall’s, Mistilis, Yerk’s, Thacker Mountain, Taylor Grocery, Double Decker Festival, The Mansion Restaurant, Larson’s Big Star, Honey Bee Bakery, Camp Lake Stephens, Yocona River Inn, Avent Hills Park, Peabody Hall, McEwen’s, and Sardis Lake are just a few of the places OLD and NEW that folks from Oxford and those who attended Ole Miss will appreciate seeing mentioned!
(Yonder Dove Press; Starkville, Mississippi; September 2014) – Mississippi wordsmith and collage artist Laurie Parker, author and illustrator of the beloved children’s rhyming favorites Everywhere in Mississippi, The Turtle Saver, A for Angels, and others, has again demonstrated the strength of the writing side of her eighteen-year career in the arts by releasing her SECOND novel.
Says Parker: “In 2013, I made the switch from ‘children’s books’ to ‘big-people books’ when I released The Matchstick Cross. Although I always considered my rhyming books to be for both children AND adults, I was long-ago labeled a ‘children’s author.’ So although it was a major departure in the eyes of the public when I released that 512-page book, it wasn’t so much for me. I was just doing what I’ve always done—crafting in words! But there were, of course, some differences in the process!”
The Starkville native says she found that writing a story in prose came so naturally to her with her first novel that she regrets she didn’t start doing novels years ago. So to make up for lost time, she wanted to immediately release another! The idea for Yonder Breaks the Morning came to her in December of 2013, and she began putting it on paper on January 12 of 2014. And “putting it on paper” is literal; as with her first novel, she wrote everything out longhand in pencil first! Parker states, “I HAVE to write that way! I need to be able to scribble notes in the margins and scratch things out. You can’t do that on a computer. So much of the old poet in me comes into play—even when I’m writing prose—and composing with words like that, for me, requires a pencil!” She took the month of April off for gardening, also a passion of hers, and was finished with typing out the handwritten draft by May 2014. Parker never took typing, and uses only two fingers and looks at the keyboard when she types. She says her unorthodox typing method lends itself to a lot of errors that weren't in the handwritten version, and that searching for them and removing them is highly stressful for her! She edited and tweaked throughout June and July. Parker designed her own jacket as well—including taking the photo, which she says is actually a sun setting, not rising!
She says that as was the case with her first novel, this second one is her way to counter and “fight back” against texting, Twitter, Facebook, and other such addictive activities that are damaging literacy and replacing reading (“or anything constructive or mind-enriching”) as an activity. She says she purposely chose to NOT water down the vocabulary, either. Says the life-long lover of words and language, “Our society is in trouble when the channel that calls itself ‘The Learning Channel’ serves up shows like Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo. What is anyone learning these days?” The writer also says she thinks that the so-called “smart” phone is an ironic name—smart phones essentially leading to dumber owners, as they replace the working human brain. “But,” she adds, “if someone uses his or her smart phone while reading my book to conveniently look up a ‘big’ word—well, then—that’s a WORTHWHILE use of technology!”
The title of her new release, Yonder Breaks the Morning, comes from a line in the Christmas hymn “O Holy Night” (“for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn”). The story is set in the year 2014, and some might find the fact that it is set in Oxford, and is written by someone from Starkville, a little ironic. Parker explains: “I chose Oxford because I wanted the story to take place a) in Mississippi and b) in a university town—because one of my characters is a college student. I did not want to set it in my hometown of Starkville. Everyone THOUGHT The Matchstick Cross was about Starkville, and it absolutely wasn’t! People in my hometown also thought my first novel was about me, but it was fiction. They were convinced that certain characters were based on people they knew—and they were wrong! Maybe this one’s being set in a place most definitely NOT Starkville will keep people from doing that this time around! Of course, some of the more fanatical ‘rivalry’ folks in my hometown will have something to say about it being in Oxford, but they’ll have to get over it. It’s a book. It is set in Mississippi. It’s not about Oxford—it is about people.”
Yonder Breaks the Morning is a tale of three strangers, one of them being an eighty-nine-year-old World War Two veteran. “Our dwindling population of men who fought in that war is a subject close to my heart, and this book, in large part, was an effort on my part to remind people about the sacrifice made by that generation of men,” says the writer. Parker’s character Glover is a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, about which she says she learned a good bit during her research—especially in terms of how the cold weather there was as much of a threat to the soldiers as the war itself at times. “I read many accounts of the action in Belgium, and some great online interviews with men who were there. It’s always interesting to learn what things they most remember about their war experiences.” In Yonder Breaks the Morning, there are a few letters from Glover to his sweetheart during the war, and vice-versa. Parker says that in creating one of the those to be from Glover, she recalled the actual letters she has that her own grandfather wrote home from Europe—but during the FIRST World War! (Parker’s father fought in World War II—seeing heavy action in the Pacific Islands as part of the 154th Infantry. But her maternal grandfather served in World War I.) “We have a stack of my Pa Pa’s letters that he wrote during the war, and he talked about food in them more than anything else! Over and over, he mentioned how he was thinking about peaches and plums from the trees back home. I kept that in mind in one of the letters I had my character Glover write.”
The novelist says of the three characters around whom the story revolves, her favorite is of course, Glover, the veteran. But she admits that Olivia, the housewife and stay-at-home mom who cares way too much about what others think and is more than a little obsessive-compulsive, was fun to write. Says Parker, “I enjoyed thinking up things about which Olivia could be nit-picky, anal, or shallow!” Because the book is set close to Christmas, Parker came up with the idea of a nativity set being another thing that Olivia wants to be arranged just so. A fun part of the story, Parker says, is how Olivia’s husband and sons have made a game out of playing around with the nativity set—changing the position of the figures, and even removing and hiding them—to mess with Olivia. Olivia doesn’t exactly have a great sense of humor, either. The story talks about how her boys and husband have a Thanksgiving day tradition of watching the movie Christmas Vacation, but that Olivia doesn’t think the movie is that funny. In another instance, her husband points out a beautiful full moon and when Olivia looks at it, she is thinking about what people will think about what she is wearing. Parker explains: “I’ve known people like that, and frankly, I feel sorry for them. I recall years ago being at a friend’s house and a lady I didn’t know was also there. She was saying that her house was way out in the middle of nowhere and I made the comment that I bet she could really see the stars there at night, and how I wished I lived somewhere where I could. The lady literally snorted, and said ‘Stars!? Who cares about stars?’ I have to admit, I thought about that woman when I was writing that particular scene about Olivia and the moon.”
Parker admits that she also enjoyed writing about the third character, Dunbar, an Ole Miss college student. She says that time she has spent through the years around some of her friends’ children came in handy in wording his dialogue, as did the fact that she lives in a university town, and often overhears college-aged kids’ conversations. “Not to mention—I see them all unable to take their eyes from their phone screens—which is a KEY issue in my story!”
The self-employed artist and writer says that although the book revolves around those three main characters, there is also a fourth character whom she considers very important. That is Charlie, who is one of Glover’s army comrades. He comes into the tale through Glover’s memories and flashbacks. Parker created Charlie as a vehicle for introducing poetry into her story. The character of Charlie is an unlikely infantry soldier who is a lover of poetry. Parker reveals that while writing his parts, she at times thought of the character Andy DuFrane in her favorite movie, The Shawshank Redemption. She says that her Charlie’s interaction with the other soldiers reminds her of how Tim Robbin’s character was with the prison inmates in that movie: “They were all a lot rougher around the edges than he was, and at times they didn’t ‘get’ him. But ultimately, they all respected him. My character Charlie is like that; when he starts quoting poetry, the other soldiers think him a little odd.” Parker said that she absolutely savored sitting down with all the old books of poetry she has in her house to select ones from which Charlie would recite in her story.
People texting while driving is also a theme in Yonder Breaks the Morning, and Parker hopes her storyline will cause readers to think twice about doing it. She says she would like for readers to come away from her novel with that...and a deeper respect for our WWII veterans...and maybe an appreciation of poetry (“if even just a little bit,” she smiles). Most of all, Parker says, she wants people to just come away from her story feeling uplifted, and with a sense that there are connections to other people that we sometimes don’t recognize...underlying forces at play in our lives.
Parker says that because she is self-published, she gets to do things she knows she wouldn’t with a big publisher. “They would likely tell me to water down my vocabulary and use simpler sentences. And maybe not make so many references to pop culture. But the way I write is the way I write. I love words and language and that’s the reason I write. To me, it would be like being an artist with tubes and tubes of paint in all shades and colors, and having someone tell you to stick to just red, green, and blue, and to paint only squares and circles—because those are the colors and shapes people recognize. When words are used correctly in the context of a good story, a person doesn’t have to know what it means necessarily; they’ll know what it must mean. And if they don’t—I’m not going to apologize! The world needs literary contributions to counter the rampant dumbing-down that is going on today! I tried to create an engaging story with relatable characters, and I endeavored to do so in a way that celebrates words and language.”
Laurie Parker fans can follow Yonder Breaks the Morning on Facebook .
Yonder Breaks the Morning, the second novel by Mississippi writer Laurie Parker
Hardbound with a dust jacket and 352 pages, it retails for $28.00.
You can order through The Book Mart (662-323-2844).
Interested RETAILERS can get more information via private message on Facebook.
Good terms: no minimum, 50% discount and books are shipped media mail.
Laurie got her cat Wordsworth from the pound in March of 2006.
He is named for the poet, William Wordsworth.