(February 17, 2014)

Alumnus receives critical acclaim for novel, visits Centenary

SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary alumnus Steve Weddle '92 has received critical acclaim for his debut novel, Country Hardball. The book was published by Tyrus Books and has received largely positive reviews from acclaimed sources such as The New York Times and Publisher's Weekly.

Country Hardball
Country Hardball cover

Weddle will visit Centenary on Tuesday, February 25, for a book reading in the Whited Room from 11:10 a.m. to noon. The event is free and open to the public. He will also meet with classes on Monday and Tuesday for discussions.

Country Hardball
is a crime noir novel-in-stories based on a theme of trying to better oneself in the midst of terrible circumstances. The protagonist, Roy Alison, returns to his rural hometown in an effort to put the crimes of his past behind him. He and the other members of the community must deal with economic, social, and ethical challenges and tragedies. The publisher has described the book as "an understated portrait of the American working class."

Weddle based the novel's setting on his hometown, near the Louisiana/Arkansas border. The characters and the challenges they face in the book are inspired by the people and stories from Weddle's childhood.

"The region of northwest Louisiana and southwest Arkansas is not one that is often covered in fiction," said Weddle. "When stories do use the region as a setting, our people are too often portrayed as ignorant rednecks or meth-addled killers. What was important to me was showing what drives people, sharing their lives and their attempts at better lives."

Weddle has been writing for decades. He received an MFA in creative writing from Louisiana State University where he completed his thesis by using versions of poems that he had written while attending Centenary. After graduating from LSU, Weddle taught at the Virginia Community College System, and eventually became a writer for a local newspaper. During this time, he wrote short stories derived from poems he started at Centenary and LSU; he began to put the stories together in order to create a fragmented narrative.

"As for straight process, I put pen to paper, then eventually type up drafts," said Weddle. "The handwriting is important because it slows me down, puts me closer to the process...For me, writing is putting down words the way a painter layers paint, a sculptor carves rock. For me, writing is as much cutting away the parts that don't look like my story as putting down just the right verb."

Weddle currently lives with his family in Virginia.

For more information contact Dr. David Havird at email.