Appalachia Appalachian Writers

The Cemetery Sleeper – And A Book Giveaway

Susan Griner the cemetery sleeper


Back in July Susan Griner emailed me in regards to linking to the Blind Pig & the Acorn blog. She also mentioned a book she had written about a boy in Tennessee. Susan’s email led me down one of those internet mazes-you know when you click here and then click there and then find something really wonderful?

What I found was a piece Susan wrote, Smile Talk. The story centers around a misunderstanding of an old saying that I’ve heard all my life: “I’ve got a crow to pick with you.” The story made me smile for sure!

I enjoyed the short story and some of her other writings so much that I couldn’t wait to read her new book-The Cemetery Sleeper. Susan graciously sent me the book to read and to use as a giveaway here on the Blind Pig. Check out the interview I did with Susan to learn more about her.

Where did you grow up? 

I grew up in Kingston, a small town in eastern Tennessee. It’s the setting for my book though I’m sure it has changed quite a bit since my childhood. As an adult I lived in Cookeville and Knoxville and taught for awhile in Rockwood which is near my hometown. What was great about growing up in a small town was the freedom to roam the woods and to come home only when I was hungry.

Where did the story of the cemetery sleeper come from?

The idea for The Cemetery Sleeper came to me when I was working in a community college in Rockwood. I met a student who told me that her dad had grown up without a proper name so he took one from a tombstone. I’m a “what if” kind of person so I asked myself, “what if the spirit buried under the tombstone wanted his name back?”

Did you want to write as a child? When did you start writing?

I have always enjoyed writing and kept a diary for years but tore the pages out of it. I wish I’d kept it so I’d know what I thought was so important then. I have a journal mostly, but my ideas mostly come when I’m in the car or out walking and have no paper handy. I studied English in college and have always wanted to be a writer.

Who’s writing influenced you?

I love to read memoirs especially of southern writers like Rick Bragg and Barbara Robinette Moss. You and I have also shared a love for the book titled, Dorie, Woman of the Mountains. Her book provided the details about the logging camps that once dotted the Smoky mountain region. I’m also drawn to fiction for middle grade readers which is the audience I most often write for. Ruth White sets her stories in the south and she’s the author of Belle Prater’s Boy and others.

What was the first piece you ever had published?

My first published story was featured in Cricket magazine. it’s a short story set in Tennessee and it’s about my mom who was Japanese and her struggles with the English language which I come to appreciate after my misguided attempts to learn southern sayings.

Do you have more books in the works?

The story I am currently working on is a big departure from the stories I usually set in places I’m familiar with. It’s set in ancient China and follows the journey of a boy and his horse as they travel along the Silk Road.

Where can people find your book(s)?

Readers interested in my books can find them both in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon and also for the Nook reader on Barnes and Noble. It’s also found on my publisher’s site, Saguaro Books.

Is there anything else you’d want Blind Pig readers to know about you?

I enjoy Tipper’s blog because it’s familiar to me and yet I always learn something new about Appalachia. I live in the Pacific northwest now and I miss the quiet places to hike, the fireflies, and a good tomato.


So what did I think of The Cemetery Sleeper? I LOVED it! I could not put it down-the story and the characters kept my interest from beginning to end. And oh what an ending! I won’t spoil it for any of you who might decide to read the book-but lets just say the ending has a few twists and turns and really made me feel strong emotion-from anger to happiness.

The book is written for the target audience of middle graders, but I think any adult who appreciates a good story would enjoy it as much as I did. Would you like to win a free copy of The Cemetery Sleeper? To be entered in the giveaway leave a comment on this post. Giveaway ends Tuesday November 4, 2014.



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  • Reply
    Fay Pitts
    July 25, 2018 at 8:01 am

    Tipper, I don’t remember how I found your page, but I look forward to reading it every day.
    I love to read and as I don’t get out much, this is my past-time. I read some every day. I also love going to old cemeteries and reading names and dates and verses. I would love a copy of this book, “The Cemetery Sleeper”.

  • Reply
    November 19, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    I am so glad a friend introduced me to this site. I know I would love this book. As a child I read Penny’s worth of Character by Jessie Stewart. This sounds like a book which would be similar to his writings.

  • Reply
    Richard Beauchamp
    November 4, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Please put my name in the pot for the book drawing Tipper. Thank you !

  • Reply
    November 4, 2014 at 7:59 am

    – had a minute – saw the reference to your book drawing – please include me – I could use a good diversion. (Wish I could still climb trees! – they were the best “reading room” ever!!)

  • Reply
    Heather Jenkins
    November 4, 2014 at 7:14 am

    I would love to have a copy of this book tipper it sounds like an amazing book. It sounds like it would take you to the mountains where we want to be

  • Reply
    November 3, 2014 at 7:25 am

    The book sounds wonderful. I used to read the Golden Arm to the elementary kids( volunteered at the school library, what fun!) and loved watching their reactions. It was fun and a memory that always brings a smile.
    Love to read about NC and my daughter carries on the tradition of it’s history.

  • Reply
    October 31, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    I very much enjoyed the interview, and I’m sure I would very much enjoy the book, since I am originally from that beautiful area.

  • Reply
    Susan Griner
    October 31, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    I enjoyed reading the comments about my book and learned a lot. Lisa–I think that’s not too unusual do you that in the south there are kids with nicknames or unusual names, as in the case of my character who is named Tump. I had an editor who found it unbelievable that a kid wouldn’t have a proper name.
    Eva–I’d be happy to be interviewed by you. I’ve been looking into getting an interview in The Roane County news, but no luck so far.
    Brenda–I am adding pictures of family cemeteries and interesting headstones to my website.
    Shirl–thanks for the tomato advice. I have given up on growing them.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    October 30, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    I’m eager to read Susan Griner’s “Cemetery Sleeper.” It indeed sounds like a winner, with local color, a strong character, and suspense, if not downright affrightment for the reader (now that word “affrightment” might be a newly-coined word; it just seemed to fit the sentence!) I’m reminded of Elizabeth Dulemba who took legends and real-life incidents of Copperhill, TN, made it Coppertown, and wrote a wonderful book for middle grades (and adults) entitled “A Bird on Water Street.” My adult Learning-in-Retirement Book Reviews Group (Ga College and State Univ.) read and reviewed it recently. We thought it exceedingly good and not at all inappropriate for adults to probe and discuss. “Cemetery Sleeper” sounds a bit on the order of Elizabeth Dulemba’s book. And I was pleased by those who aim to write their own book! Best wishes to all of us with that aspiration. May it be realized!
    Happy Halloween, all (or should I say Haunting Halloween?).

  • Reply
    Brenda S 'Okie in Colorado'
    October 30, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    Tipper, I would love a copy of this book! Sounds wonderful. And, thank you for sharing the post on The Golden Arm. yesterday. During my childhood, as many times as my Granny would tell that story, it seems it always scared me when she would say, YOU HAVE IT! lol I enjoy your blog after all these many years and the twins just get more talented all the time. I feel I know you and your precious family.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    October 30, 2014 at 10:44 pm

    Okay – you hooked me. I’ve got to get that book!

  • Reply
    Judy Lee Green
    October 30, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Tipper, I am a relatively new reader of Blind Pig and absolutely love it and all things Appalachia. I too write about my Appalachian roots. I would love to read Cemetery Sleeper.

  • Reply
    Brenda Jump
    October 30, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    My friends, The Garland Family, has taken pictures of many of the local graves and put the pictures on a website called Find a Grave. This made me think of them!! I love this family.

  • Reply
    October 30, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    More authors, creating exciting reading that will hold the interest of middle school students are needed. They are competing against x-boxes , hundreds of video games and many extra-curricular activities. I plan to read this book and hope many more do also. Good luck Ms. Griner!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 30, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Did you ever count cows on your side of the road and lose them all when you passed a cemetery?

  • Reply
    Rhonda Tobey
    October 30, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    “Tar Bubbles”
    I was thinking about my childhood and popping the tar bubbles in the road.
    Most of the summer we ran around the yard barefooted and when we spotted the tar bubbles, it was “ouch” “ouch” “ouch” over to burst the little bubbles.
    Hot, dirty little feet.
    Silly little memories…..

  • Reply
    Janet E.
    October 30, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Tipper, Love to read your blog!!!!
    Would really enjoy reading The Cemetery Sleeper and giving to my granddaughters to read.

  • Reply
    Lisa Hardin
    October 30, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    Sounds like a fun book!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    Is there a different understanding of “I’ve got a crow to pick ….?
    I have friends in Kingston and know exactly where it is. I would to read the book. I’m reading one by an author from Madisonville, TN now.

  • Reply
    October 30, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    I loved the interview with Susan Griner and I would love to win the book! Thanks, Tipper for all the good tips on books to read. Wish I lived closer to be able to see the girls perform!

  • Reply
    Gary Powell
    October 30, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Just watched KY Haunted Places on KET. Really interesting. Was never one to be afraid of cemeteries. Liked to visit and read the old gravestones.

  • Reply
    October 30, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    I think this would be a great read. I am going to have to look this author up. Thanks. Even though I grew up in Oklahoma, and live in Kansas, so many of the words and sayings I grew up with.

  • Reply
    Kim Campbell
    October 30, 2014 at 11:57 am

    This sounds like a great read and the contest ends on my birthday!!!!!!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 30, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Smile Talk by Susan Griner. I like the play on words. My great grandmother was a Smiley. Reckon the Griners and Smileys are related.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 30, 2014 at 11:09 am

    The mention of a freebee should bring out commenters unheard of in months or maybe years!
    I would be interested to know what Lisa’s great aunt’s real name was. Clyde was a popular name for females in the latter half of the 19th century and into the early 20th. Could it really have been Clyde?

  • Reply
    Arthur McArthur
    October 30, 2014 at 10:39 am

    Have you ever started a book and couldn’t put it down because you knew if you did, you would never pick it up again?
    Do you use a bookmarker when you read a book you feel obligated to read because you will never be able to find where you left off if you don’t?
    Do you know that a laminated newspaper obituary makes a very good book marker?
    Have you ever read a book so good that when you lost your place and had to start over, it was just as good and you didn’t care if you never got to the end?
    Do you know that if you feel you must skip to the end because you can’t wait to see how it turns out, it’s not a good book and you are wasting your time reading it?
    Now I have a bone to pick with you! Where did the crow come from?

  • Reply
    October 30, 2014 at 10:33 am

    Having taught almost thirty years of middle school, I would love to add this book to my collection. I admire those who have ideas and put them on paper, and, some day, I will write my book about our very first kitty named Clyde. She was an amazing kitty, very talented and loving. It broke our hearts when her live had to end. I always read stories to my language arts students during my teaching years. My fingers are crossed.

  • Reply
    Ken Ryan
    October 30, 2014 at 10:22 am

    I enjoyed the results of your interview With Susan. Put my name in the pot for the drawing for the book.

  • Reply
    Joe Mode
    October 30, 2014 at 9:29 am

    The Kingston area is a beautiful area and just a stones throw away from where we live. Best of luck on the book. My sons would enjoy reading it, as would I.

  • Reply
    October 30, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Cemetery Sleeper sounds like a good suspense book just waiting for me to read it. Susan, when I lived up north I had to grow my own tomatoes to get that down home flavor. A good tomato grown up north had to start with seeds my mom saved the previous year.

  • Reply
    eva nell wike, PhD
    October 30, 2014 at 8:58 am

    FIDDLE STICKS! Tipper,I was all set to contact Susan Griner down in Roane County (where I live)! I love her style of thinking and writing. Now she is way out yonder in the North West and that is too far to DRIVE AGAIN. Actually I have never driven that far but we sure flew out and ‘did’ the Capitol of every state on the west coast. Visiting Capitol cities is my favorite activity on vacation! I have been to Alaska two times but never did visit the Capitol! The ferry over to the Island of Juneau does not run on the weekend! What a downer!
    Eva Nell Mull Wike (865)482-2545
    Kindly, Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    October 30, 2014 at 8:23 am

    It is always nice to learn of a new author who loves our area. Especially when you are looking for Christmas gifts for middle school age children. Books are an
    everlasting gift. I have always loved to get them and give them whenever possible. Ageless gift.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 30, 2014 at 8:06 am

    I wonder if that tale I told yesterday, about the “no-face man” who was-a-tappin’ on the graveyard stone…ooooo, yes, it just makes me wonder, if’n he knew the cemetery sleeper?.. Again, a very skeery, coincidence!
    Put me in there for a chance to win that book! Why I just might recognize some of the old places!
    Did you know that the “writin’ bug” is caught in the water around here? Yep, I’ve heard tell that there seems to be a bunch of ’em and good ones at that! Then, those like Susan Griner, encourage other younsters through her writing, to test the water and they catch the writin’ bug! Looking forward to reading her book!…I jest knew her face looked familiar to me, like she was from around here! LOL Yep, I believe she is my kind of people!
    Thanks Tipper,
    and Susan

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    October 30, 2014 at 8:06 am

    As always, Tipper, I am thoroughly enjoying your blog.

  • Reply
    William Dotson
    October 30, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Tipper I love to read those great short stories like Susan’s, we read a lot when we have our direct tv disconnected because I get upset with the reruns of reruns of reruns of 50 years ago.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    October 30, 2014 at 7:57 am

    This sounds like a wonderful book for the season or at anytime. My grandkids would love it

  • Reply
    Lisa Snuggs
    October 30, 2014 at 7:40 am

    The line about the nameless boy taking one from a tombstone reminded me of my Great Aunt Clyde. Yes, Aunt Clyde. She was called “Baby” until she attended elementary school in rural north Georgia. The teacher insisted “Baby” was not a proper name, so my aunt declared on the spot that her new name was “Clyde.” We have no idea where it came from, but it stuck.

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