POMEROY – “When you choose to live in Appalachia, the place is as much a character as those who reside there,” said author Bonnie Proudfoot of the region she has lived in since moving there in 1979.
Proudfoot came to the Brickhouse Apothecary for a book signing to promote Goshen Road during Cabin Fever Music Festival in Pomeroy last weekend, and as a live band played in the background, she related her reason for being in Appalachia.
She recounted that she came to the area from Queens, New York, after marrying a man from West Virginia.
She said they purchased a farm, “We wanted to have a garden, grow some vegetables, you know, it was just the times, so we did; I fell in love with West Virginia, and stayed.”
She now resides in the Athens area, and brought her talents of writing, poetry, and glass art with her.
Goshen Road is Proudfoot’s first novel, and she said, “I knew I always wanted to write a book about my experiences, but this is not that book. I was going to write from my perspective, my life, and I still want to write that book, but this one came first.”
She describes the novel as a coming of age story set in rural West Virginia in a time when culture and tradition are still important, but slipping away, a simpler time becoming more complex. The fictional characters are placed in a historically accurate setting, and chronicle two decades of their lives and struggles in a changing environment.
Proudfoot illustrates through her characters the changes that are taking place, their efforts to balance “Appalachia old and new” amidst multiple distractions, and the presser placed on women by these forces.
“I love Appalachia for it’s contrasts, the wet grass after the rain, the trees and flowers just about to bud, the hope that it doesn’t frost before they have a chance to blossom.I tried to curate affection for the region, but I also wanted to show there is so much going on around them that they bow to the forces of distraction.”
Bonnie Proudfoot has an MA in Creative Writing from Hollins College in Roanoke, Virginia, and currently teaches at West Virginia University. She has also taught for many years at Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio. She is a recipient of a Fellowship for the Arts in Creative Writing from the West Virginia department of Culture and History, and has had fiction and poetry published in the Gettysburg Review, Kestrel, Quarter After Eight, and other journals. Her poetry has received recognition in various competitions, including, Ohio’s Power of Poetry Festival in Logan, Ohio.
Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.