While quarantining has worn down many people’s creativity—bored of going on television series binges or taking another stroll around the neighborhood—two local authors have offered up portals to new realms.
Their newest novels made big waves on the national and international stage at the Florida Writers Association’s Royal Palm Literary Awards this fall.
Marina Brown’s novel “The Orphan of Pitigliano” transports readers into the Italian countryside. The plot takes place before the outbreak of World War II as three cousins seek to hide their Jewish identities. Brown’s novel won the 2020 Book of the Year award as well as a gold medal in historical fiction.
“I like grounding a story in something that is real,” says Brown. “Learning something factual and historical adds depth and flavor to any plot and character for me. It’s also a fun challenge to do the research, and as you’re writing these characters you get to feel what they feel in that setting. You’re spilling your own energy into them in a way that’s this reciprocal dynamism.”
Ordinarily, awards are given out at the Association’s annual conference in Orlando, however this year the ceremony took place virtually. Awards are divided by genre and are given to published and unpublished manuscripts. Donna Meredith’s “Buried Seeds” won a gold medal in women’s fiction. Her recognition has been a great triumph, as it was awarded prior to publication.
Meredith says the novel took over a decade to come to fruition. Originally, she abandoned the manuscript after writing part of main character’s story. It wasn’t until the 2018 West Virginia teacher’s strike that she was inspired to return and add to her original idea. Subsequently, the book straddles two timelines — the first being the world of Angie Fisher, president of the local teachers union in West Virginia, and the second following her great-great-grandmother Rosella’s journey earning the right to vote.
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