Author Holly Goddard Jones speaks at Visiting Writers event

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Damon Stone

Holly Goddard Jones was the first author to visit WKU this semester as part of the English department’s Visiting Writers series. “What I’m working on now is really inspired by Western and Bowling Green,” Jones said.

Damon Stone, News Reporter

The WKU Department of English hosted its first Visiting Writers event of the spring semester on Wednesday evening in Cherry Hall. Wednesday’s featured writer was Holly Goddard Jones, author of several works of fiction, including her most recent novel titled “The Salt Line” and a collection of short stories titled “Antipodes.”

Jones’s work has appeared in publications such as Tin House, Epoch, Best American Mystery Stories and New Stories from the South. She is the recipient of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, the Kentucky Literary Award, the Hillsdale Prize from the Fellowship of Southern Writers and the Judy Gaines Young Book Award for Appalachian Writers.

Writing is naturally, for me, the way that I come to some level of understanding. Writing is really empowering, and sometimes, I don’t know what I think about something until I try to write about it.”

— Holly Goddard Jones

For the event itself, English professor Nancy Dinan introduced Jones and her works before she stepped up to the podium and read the first paragraph from a book that, as of now, remains a work in progress. 

“Lots of different things [motivate me to write], but what it boils down to is that it’s the way I understand the world and what my place in it is supposed to be,” Jones said. “Writing is naturally, for me, the way that I come to some level of understanding. Writing is really empowering, and sometimes, I don’t know what I think about something until I try to write about it.” 

Some of Jones’ more recent stories have taken influence from the current troubling times, like that of the COVID-19 pandemic, in ways that reflect the isolation and uncertainty of the here-and-now. 

Jones said she was inspired by authors including Margaret Atwood, George Saunders and Jeff VanderMeer. She has also been inspired by more specific works like “Her Body and Other Parties,” by Carmen Maria Machado, and “Tenth of December,” by George Saunders.

“What I’m working on now is really inspired by Western and Bowling Green,” Jones said. “It feels very special to be here and read from that project.”

The next author to speak in the department’s Visiting Writers series will be Nick Flynn on March 31.

News Reporter Damon Stone can be reached at [email protected].