About the Book

Singer of an Empty Day

by Flora Ann Scearce

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Flora Ann Scearce didn’t grow up in Haywood County, NC, but her mother did, at a point in time when mountain people still made their own herbal remedies, cooked on a fire and depended more on what they could make and grow than what they could buy. So wrote Kathy N. Ross, Staff Writer of The Mountaineer, a newspaper in Waynesville, NC, where much of Scearce’s novel, Singer of an Empty Day takes place. The novel takes Sippy, protagonist, along a road many mountain people who were born at the turn of the twentieth century traveled, from hard-scrabble farms to the logging camps and to Carolina textile mills. . . It’s a book brimming with details about life in the Great Smoky Mountains before electricity had reached any rural communities, and includes old games, songs, ways of preserving food and cooking as well as detailed descriptions of cabins and ways of farming the mountainsides where poorer folks lived once the valleys had been settled.

Jack Spencer Goodwin, former president of Carteret County Historical Society, Inc. and founder of THE HISTORY PLACE in Morehead City, said this about Singer of any Empty Day: This is a splendid book. The richly detailed characters are alive and vibrant. By the end of the book, I felt that I actually knew these people. The culture and folk-ways of these mountain people are brought to life in a way that is all too rare in modern novels. The author’s excellent use of phonetic transcription accurately, and understandably, brings the characters’ speech alive. It is, in all ways, a fine depiction of a vanished way of life. I hope there will be a sequel.

Professor Jerry Leath Mills, described by Perry Young in a piece published by the Raleigh News and Observer a superb Renaissance scholar and teacher at the University of North Carolina for thirty years, recalled a symposium at UNC, Chapel Hill. Professor Mills figured out what made Southern writing Southern. It was the mule, more specifically the dead mule. In a letter to the author of Singer of an Empty Day, Professor Mills congratulates her on having done a fine job and promises to include her “dead mule episode,” his test of a truly “Southern” story, in his sequel to “Equine Gothic: The Dead Mule as Generic Signifier in Southern Literature of the Twentieth Century.” And this he did! In his article, “The Dead Mules Rides Again,” which appeared in the Winter, 2000 issue of the journal Southern Cultures, published in Chapel Hill by the UNC Press, Jerry Leath Mills quotes Scearce’s mule episode from her novel Singer of an Empty Day. Having passed the “Dead Mule Test,” Scearce’s novel was into the annals of truly Southern literature.

For her work Scearce has been awarded the Clark Cox Historial Fiction Award from the North Carolina Society of Historians. Other awards include First Place in the Carteret Writers’ Annual Competition in the Novel/Novella category.