Welcome to week three of the Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway! I’m kicking this week off with a copy of Writers on the Rise columnist Kristin Bair O’Keeffe’s debut novel Thirsty.
It is 1883, and all of Klara Bozic’s girlish dreams have come crashing down as she arrives in Thirsty, a gritty steel town carved into the slopes above the Monongahela River just outside of Pittsburgh. She has made a heartbreaking discovery. Her new husband, Drago, is as abusive as the father she left behind in Croatia.
In Kristin Bair O’Keeffe’s debut novel, Klara’s life unfolds over forty years as she struggles to find her place in a new country where her survival depends on the friends who nurture her: gutsy, funny Katherine Zupanovic, who isn’t afraid of Drago’s fist; BenJo, the only black man in Thirsty to have his own shop; and strangely enough, Old Man Rupert, the town drunk.
Thirsty follows a chain of unlikely events that keep Klara’s spirit aloft: a flock of angelic butterflies descends on Thirsty; Klara gives birth to her first child in Old Man Rupert’s pumpkin patch; and BenJo gives her a talking bird. When Klara’s daughter marries a man even more brutal than Drago, Klara is forced to act. If she doesn’t break the cycle of violence in her family, her granddaughters will one day walk the same road, broken and bruised. As the threads that hold her family together fray and come undone, Klara must decide whether she has the courage to carve out a peaceful spot in the world for herself and her girls.
Born and raised in Pittsburgh’s steel-making milieu (before the crash of the industry in the 1980s), Kristin Bair O’Keeffe has always been enamored with steel, the Steel City, and the history of the immigrant families who settled there. Her interest led to her first published poem in the mid 1980s (“Crumbling Steeples”) and now her first novel Thirsty.
Over the past few years, Kristin has written for a variety of publications, including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Poets & Writers Magazine, The Baltimore Review, San Diego Family Magazine, and The Gettysburg Review. Her column—The Fiction Writing Workshop—appears monthly in Writers on the Rise.
With a B.A. in English and journalism from Indiana University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia College Chicago, Kristin has always combined her love of writing with teaching. She is a passionate writing instructor with fifteen years of workshop experience at U.S. colleges and universities, including Boston College, Endicott College, Montserrat College of Art, University of New Hampshire, and Columbia College Chicago.
Currently Kristin lives in Shanghai, China, with her husband and daughter where she writes, teaches fiction and nonfiction writing, blogs about her adventures (and misadventures) around the world, and curates Out Loud! The Shanghai Writers Literary Salon. She’d love to hear from you on Twitter or Facebook.
If you are new to the giveaway, please read “Da Rules.”
Today you get to choose between two questions…
Kristin is a great example of perseverance and how it pays off in the long run. While not every literary pursuit is suited for publication, can you think of any projects you might be willing to work on for the long haul…maybe even for over a decade? Tell us how you are (or aren’t) cut out for this kind of stick-with-it-ness.
Ever tried to write anything from a historical perspective? Tell us about your project and your process.
Answer one question in 50-200 words, please. 🙂
Before you go! WE HAVE A CAUSE TO RAISE MONEY FOR THIS YEAR! Please read the story about the Applin family here and consider making a small contribution at some point during the giveaway. We’re aiming for $100/day collectively. Please help us help the Applin family adopt two beautiful children from Russia. 🙂