‘River’ Author Gets New Contract, Publisher



COLUMBUS, Miss. — For Michael Farris Smith, the next novel might start with just a fleeting image. In his latest, scheduled for early 2017 publication, the author of the critically acclaimed “Rivers” said he imagined a woman and a child on an interstate, dragging everything they owned.

“The Dark of Night,” like “Rivers,” is set in Smith’s native South Mississippi. “I’m influenced by the backroads where I grew up,” said th

e associate professor of English at Mississippi University for Women. “I saw this image, and I followed it. In the opening of the book, you see the characters and you immediately start pulling for them.”

Smith said the South Mississippi countryside in “The Dark of Night” helps define both the mood and the action of his novel.  “In the middle of the night, there are the stars, the moon, the rolling pastures,” he said.  “There seems to be nothing happening, but there is, in reality, a lot of activity.”   The book, he said, shows how one decision we make can change the course of our lives.

Written during the time he also worked on “Rivers,” the book was recently revised. It will be published by Little Brown, Smith’s new publishing house.  “This will be a great home for me, since their emphasis is on fiction,” he said.  “Landing there has given me new inspiration.”

He’s also thrilled to be working with a new imprint at Little Brown, Lee Boudreaux Books. Founded in 2014, the publishing group is dedicated to “publishing bestselling and award-winning literary fiction notable for unusual stories, unexpected voices and a strong sense of place.”

Boudreaux has published writers who have gone on to be nominated for or win awards that include the National Book Award, the Man-Booker Prize and PEN awards. “Lee Boudreaux has worked with authors such as Ron Rash, Patrick Dewitt and Smith Henderson,” Smith said. “She’s pretty astonishing.”

A third book already completed will be published in 2020. Meanwhile, Smith, who won the 2014 Mississippi Author Award for Fiction, has begun his fourth novel, set in the Mississippi Delta.

At The W, he is on the creative writing faculty and says he has taught some talented aspiring writers. “I think some of them have the potential to become successful,” he said.

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