Appalachian Writers – Susie Swanson

The top benefit of writing the Blind Pig & the Acorn blog-are the amazing people I’ve met. I’ve connected with people from England, Australia, Hawaii, Alaska, and pretty much every where in between.

While many of the connections I’ve made have been far and wide-I’ve made more than a few right here in Cherokee County.

I met Susie Swanson through the Blind Pig & the Acorn. Funny to meet Susie online when she lives just over the mountain-practically within walking distance. I went to elementary school with Susie’s son, but never had the occasion to meet Susie until I started blogging.

Susie recently published her second book of poetry and I was honored to interview her as one of my Appalachian Writers.

Appalachian Writers - Susie Swanson

 

Did you grow up in Appalachia?

Yes, I was born and raised in Appalachia.

Did you want to write as a child? What were your writing influences?

No, I never thought about writing when I was a child. My biggest influences have been my family and my childhood memories. I came from a family of six kids, me being the oldest. We had loving, christian parents that taught us very early on to appreciate what we had and how to get by. We all had our fair share of chores. I was standing up in a chair and washing dishes by the time I was six. When I got old enough to be trusted around the wood cook stove, my mom taught me how to build a fire and cook. There’s so many other things I learned early on, to many to mention. We cooked on an old wood stove until a couple of years before I got married and left home. Those childhood memories are worth more than any gold today and fodder for writing.

What was the first piece you ever had published?

It came when I published my first book, “Rhymes Of My Life” in 2010. They were some of my very first poems. I also started a Poetry Blog in December, 2010 called “Country Side Poet“. I’ve published a lot on there and have a nice amount of followers and friends.

Why is it important for you to write about your heritage?

I want people to be able to read and know about my life. It’s very important to me to leave it behind for future generations. The way I grew up and the old ways are a vanishing culture. When I’m gone my memories will go with me if I don’t write them down and they’ll be lost forever.

Are you involved or connected with other writers?

Yes, my dear friend and Publisher Wayne Newton has been such an inspiration to me. I gained a lifetime friend in him and his sweet wife. I would never been able to put “Echoes Of Time” together without him. He has a book of his own out, “A Bunch Of Wiregrass” that’s an awesome read. Then, there’s my sweet friend Barbara Taylor Woodall, author of, “It’s Not My Mountain Anymore”. Although, I have never met her in person I feel like I’ve known her all of my life. She’s helped me so much and she and I speak and write the same language. We grew up the same way and share the same memories. She’s a gem and a forever friend. Barbara has read my book and personally sent me a great review that brought tears to my eyes. Brenda Kay Ledford from Hayesville is another close friend. She and I share the same memories. Brenda has a lot of her writing published and several books out. There’s several more writers I’m associated with but to many to mention.

Where can folks buy your book and find out more about you?

They can find it at Curiosity Bookstore, Cherokee County Museum, or Brother’s Restaurant and all of these locations are in Murphy, N.C. One other place is in Hayesville, N.C. It’s called Morning Song Gallery or they can also buy it straight from me. Susie Swanson 600 Moccasin Creek Road, Murphy, N.C. 28906. I’ve already mailed them out to so many different states that I keep saying it won’t be long until I’ve covered every state. I’m in the process of putting them in a lot more locations.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Blind Pig readers?

I would just like to add that I’m an old country gal with a yearning for my yesterdays. I owe it all to my Father above and my earthly father and mother and the good raising I had. My dad lived to be ninety four and oh the things he could tell. I wrote it down in my mind as a child and after I was older and I love to share it. In my book I’ve wrote a short Story/Poem about him and his life and what he saw and done and there’s so much more that I wrote about him. My mother was an angel. She not only taught me how to live, learn and grow but how to be me. I just wish I could have inherited her knack for curing the Thrash (Thrush). She left it behind and maybe someday when the right person comes along I’ll know. Her own doctor sent his patients to her. There were many children and grown ups that she treated and they are living testimonies today of how she cured them. She just did it and walked away. That was her faith in knowing it would work. All of my family have become fodder for writing. There’s a story to tell in all of us just waiting for the right words.

Can you sum up what Appalachia means to you?

Yes, like I said before the old ways are fading fast. If we don’t write them down they’ll go with us. I can’t stand to see it lost forever. When I’m traveling down the road and pass an old barn or house I can’t help but hear the echoes and feel the vibes coming from each one. Those long ago days that filled them with so much joy is over but they’ve all got a story to tell. I look for things such as this and take pictures with my mind. In my book there’s a poem called “Yesterday’s Sky” and another one called, “There’s Nothing Worth Losing”. that pretty much sums it up for me. This place I call home here in the Appalachia is a way of life I was born into and will cherish the rest of my days. I have a Poem up on my Blog right now that best describes what Appalachia means to me. It’s called, “I’m From Appalachia” and the last verse reads, “These mountains I call home just beyond the horizon, my spirit dwells and tranquil peace does shine, I will plant it firmly for those who follow after, in hopes they’ll never leave the chimney smoke behind.” I’ve traveled far but never far enough to not see the chimney smoke. Feel free to go to my blog, Country Side Poet, and read my writes anytime. 

———————–

I hope you enjoyed the interview! Susie is a wonderful preserver of Appalachian culture and heritage. My brother got her first book (Rhymes Of My Life) for me-it’s wonderful-and Susie’s latest book, Echoes of Time is every bit as good as the first one.

Tipper

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Lise
    December 3, 2013 at 9:43 am

    I’ve been enjoying getting to know Susie through blogging as well and am a proud owner of her book Echoes of Time. I thoroughly enjoy reading about life in southern Appalachia…there is so much rich history here. Thank you both for making sure we all know the traditions and ways of every day life!

  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    December 3, 2013 at 4:08 am

    It is good that writers like Susie and you, Tipper, remind us all of the history of this region.
    Wayne Newton had told me about Susie’s book and that he helped her get it published. I’ll have to get a copy.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    December 2, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Susie Swanson is a writer right after my own heart! I enjoyed visiting her blog and reading her mother’s curing the thrash (thrush). My Grandmother Sarah Evaline Souther Dyer knew that cure and others, as she was a noted herbal doctor and mid-wife in Choestoe in the late nineteenth and several decades into the 20th century in Choestoe, Union County, GA. I, too, love writing about our vanishing way of life, and now our memories are the things stories and poems are made of. Thanks for the interview with Susie, and I hope I can soon meet her in person. I’ve written columns for The News Observer for 24 years, and so many of them have been of mountain people, ways and places. I did the same for the Union Sentinel for nine years, and all those “Through Mountain Mists” columns can be accessed at GaGenWebProject (then click counties–click Union–go down the Table of Contents and click on the date after the title of the article you might want to read).
    Thanks, Tipper, for introducing us to Susie Swanson, and thanks Susie, for your wonderful writing! I look forward to reading more.
    My books of poetry:
    The Singing in the Wood (1984)
    Mother and Child Reunion (1995)
    My books of history:
    Facets of Fannin: A History of Fannin County, GA (with Dale Dyer, 1989)
    Cemeteries of Fannin Co GA (with Dale Dyer, 2003)
    Faith through Flood and Fire (1983)
    100 Years of Heritage and Hope (with Rev. Grover D. Jones, 1993).
    and blogspots:
    Insights and Inspiration on My Journey with God
    From My Daily Devotional Journal (both 2012 and 2010)
    On Facebook: Worth Considering…A Thought for Today
    Thanks, Susie! Thanks, Tipper!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 2, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Tipper,
    Thanks for the interview with Susie Swanson! Just reading that small excerpt of the “wood stove” and the “curing of the “Thrush” (thrash)” brought back memories of my own Appalachian families!
    I suppose the books are available for the Kindle?..Yep, I carry my whole library with me where ever I go and manage get a few paragraphs or chapter read while waiting at Dr.s appointments or hair cut appointments…If ridin’ along on a short trip, I can get a lot of readin’ done….
    Thanks Tipper, and
    thanks Susie for your work…I will be checking out your blog as well…

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    I so enjoyed this interview, can’t wait to read the book.

  • Reply
    dolores
    December 2, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    What a wealth of information about the area she could afford to historians. I wish her continued success with her writing, and, thanks, Tipper, for taking the time to interview and share your findings. I really enjoyed reading about how she got started and what she had to share.

  • Reply
    Tamela
    December 2, 2013 at 11:53 am

    My great grandmother shared a story or two from her past but most times, when anyone started reminiscing, someone else would say, “Oh – folks don’t want to hear about the past. . . .” As a child and later as a young adult, I tried to tell my parents and grandparents that I wanted to hear more, but they shared very little – . I treasure the few stories they did share.
    My husband’s parents were even worse.
    Suzie’s family – and all of her reader’s now and in the future – as well as readers of this blog and of other writers who cherish the past, know that understanding our past is the foundation for a grounded future.
    Everyone – keep on writing. . . .

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    December 2, 2013 at 11:31 am

    now I’ve two blogs about some of my favorite things to read. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Susie Swanson
    December 2, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Thank you so much Tipper for posting and sharing this. I’m honored to call you my friend and neighbor. I’ve pretty much crammed alot of my childhood memories in this book and plan on doing a Volume two someday. My memories of these beautiful mountains will probably outlive me but as long as I’m alive I’ll write them down for future generations to look back upon. Sometimes I feel like I’m still living in the past. It pulls at me everyday to write about it. That’s why I love your blog and posts. I look forward to them. We both believe in preserving our heritage and keeping it alive. I’m honored to share that with you. Thanks again Tipper and to all of the people that has made comments. God Bless everyone.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    December 2, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Tipper,
    I loved this interview with Susie.
    What a Jewel! And right here in a
    low key, our neighbor.
    Thank you for letting us see another
    glimpse of a great Appalachian
    Writer…Ken

  • Reply
    Tom
    December 2, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Wow! Really enjoyed your interview with Susie. She is testimony of the goodness of an Appalachian life and upbringing. I really was touched by her story and especially like when she said, “There’s a story to tell in all of us just waiting for the right words.” Tipper, I am very glad that you, like Susie, are preserving your heritage so it is never forgotten.

  • Reply
    C. Ron Perry
    December 2, 2013 at 8:55 am

    I went to her blog. She is quite a writer. Thank you Tipper for posting this.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    December 2, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Hey Tipper: Susie shows her true upbringing in your wonderful interview with her. I look forward to reading more about her endeavors as a great poet of the mountains!
    Best regards, Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    December 2, 2013 at 7:39 am

    Well, Tipper! I would say you ‘struck gold’ when you posted Susie Swanson’s thoughts and philosophy toward life and living in these mountains. What she holds dear is the real meaning of family devotion and love for one another. Relating to her way of life came easy to me – only difference being is that I am ONE OF ELEVEN CHILDREN! But like Susie, I hold to our way of living here in the mountains – as it is the best way of life.
    Much devotion,
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    Author: “The Matheson Cove – In the Shadow of the Devil’s Post Office” 2007 “Fiddler of the Mountains – Attuned to the Life and Times of Johnny Mull” 2013

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