Not Writing in a Vacuum

By Guy Spriggs

As he enters the second semester of his senior year, Jeremy Puckett finds himself at the end of his undergraduate study with plans to continue his education by pursuing a master’s degree in library science.

But Puckett also finds himself undertaking a task normally reserved for advanced graduate students and professors: publishing a book.

“It’s funny…I’ve been writing since I was in middle school and I never thought of it as a career,” Puckett said.

Puckett was compelled to write his novel after a trip home to Green County, Kentucky.

“I spent a lot of my life trying to get away from my home county,” Puckett explained. “You spend your whole life running away from something and you look back and it’s always over your shoulder because you’re taking it with you as you go.”

“I realized that the act of running away defines that place as the most important place in my life.”

After these experiences, Puckett realized that he had an important story to tell. And after writing an outline for his novel, he realized how he could tell that story.

“I wanted to talk about the quintessential experience of growing up in rural Kentucky, and I also wanted to write a horror novel,” he explained.

“There are a lot of stories where Appalachians are the villains, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a novel in the horror or fantasy genres that treated them as heroes.”

Puckett describes his novel “Black Bottom Hollow” as a haunted house story without the house, captured in the tale of a boy coming to manhood and realizing that he might never get away from his home.

“Eight-year-old Remy Calloway gets killed by a speeding car and doesn’t stay dead. His family reaches back into the lore of their kin and manages to save him, but the price is very high,” Puckett said.

“I’m writing about the way that people’s experiences soak into the land and how the evil or good they do never really goes away.”

And while Puckett has been writing almost his entire life, he was drawn to the prospect of working on his novel in a group environment.

“Good writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum: you have to be a reader, a critic, an editor; you have to work with other people,” Puckett said. Since his return to UK, Puckett has found that kind of support in his English 207 imaginative writing workshop.

“I had always wanted to do a writing workshop, and I had heard that professor [Cheryl] Cardiff was good, so I just went for it. The people in [my English 207 workshop] have been incredibly supportive,” he said.

While Puckett received encouraging feedback from his classmates and professor, he also learned that publishing his novel wouldn’t be cheap. In order to fulfill his goals, Puckett turned to Kickstarter, a web-based platform for funding projects all over the world.

“I proposed the project to Kickstarter, they very graciously accepted it, and I’ve been promoting it ever since,” he said. “One of the reasons that Kickstarter is appealing is that it’s an all or nothing funding program: if I don’t get the money that I’ve requested in that amount of time, everybody gets it back.”

Through his appeal to public support, Puckett hopes to avoid writing or publishing his novel in a vacuum. But even if he doesn’t get the help he needs, Puckett is determined to move forward with “Black Bottom Hollow.”

“This book is going to get out one way or another, and while I’d like to have the help of the public to do it […] if it doesn’t happen, it’s just going to take me longer.”

You can read the prologue to “Black Bottom Hollow” and learn more about Jeremy’s project (as well as contribute!) at the following address:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/572291080/black-bottom-hollow

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