by Tim McCarthy
On September 26th Amphorae Publishing Group celebrated its first ever Literary Feast at The Corner Gates in St. Louis! The evening was marked by insightful conversations with three of its authors: Steve Wiegenstein, Cynthia Graham, and Hal Bush. The cozy backdrop of the venue gave way to stimulating exchanges between the three authors and the audience. After enjoying a tasty spread of hummus and pita, barbecued pork, roasted vegetables and one of the signature cocktails of the night, attention was turned to talking about great literature.
Steve Wiegenstein gave us all a taste of the latest addition to his Daybreak series, The Language of Trees, that had hit shelves earlier that day. Reading from his latest work, his words transported us to the utopian community of Daybreak set in the Missouri Ozarks. As the world around the community changes, the inhabitants of Daybreak struggle to live out the values that brought them together in the first place. Wiegenstein took questions from curious guests and it became clear that this was the true magic of the evening. As readers, hopeful writers, authors, and good friends began to exchange questions and ideas, the space transformed into a comfortable living room where everyone could discuss riveting topics of literature, inspiration, and writing.
Cynthia spoke next. She started by discussing character development. “The challenge that all writers strive to meet,” she said, “is to create realistic characters.” Pulling the curtain back, Cynthia allowed us a peek at her process of getting into the mindset of her characters, most notably the young war veteran Sheriff Hicks, from her Cherokee Crossing series. Cynthia was asked how she could create such a realistic male protagonist. She responded that, “the capacity to understand the other sex is something that we all have.” Strip a person down, she explained, and they are made up of the same hopes and dreams and wants as everyone else. “To write a character is to put on someone else’s mask.”
Tying in his experiences as a professor at Saint Louis University, Hal Bush spoke about his novel, The Hemingway Files. Like the author himself, several characters in his novel are also professors so Hal was able to draw directly from his experience. By his account professors are often stereotyped as cynical, self-centered men and confessed that some of that, “stuffiness” had found its way onto the pages of his novel. Through the editorial process he was able to adapt the voices of his characters to be unique – drawing from Hal’s experience, but not all sounding alike. He was able to make them come alive as individuals focusing not just on their actions but also their dialog.
The evening was truly a success with good food, good company, and exceptional conversation. If you could not make it this time around, you will have a chance to join in the conversation at the next Literary Feast in December!
Tim McCarthy graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is a freelance writer and avid outdoorsman, spending as much time as he can enjoying the natural beauty of America. He is currently working as a content creating intern for Amphorae Publishing Group.