Andrea Fekete is a Logan County native and a former teacher at Southern West Virginia Community Technical College. She received her MA in English from Marshall University in 2005 and currently teaches at Ashland Community College. Her poetry has appeared in over forty literary magazines including The Adirondack Review, The Smithville Journal, and has appeared in anthologies such as The Appalachian Writer's Guild Anthology. On October 15, her first novel "Waters Run Wild" had been released from the publisher, Sweetgum Press. Fekete answered questions about the writing process for fans, former students and others who attended the event.
"I started Waters Run Wild when I was 18 and did not finish it until 2005," she admitted, prior to reading selected passages from the novel. "This book is about coal camp life around 1918-1920. It focuses around several characters but most especially a young woman named Jennie."
Fekete said her novel is a coming of age story set in an interesting time in West Virginia history and that the primary character is not proud of who she is and is fascinated by the immigrants who also live in the coal camps they all call home. Each chapter is told from a different point of view from the various characters in the book. Fekete noted she was particularly inspired by Ray Bradbury and William Faulkner and credited Bradbury for one of the more unusual chapters in the novel, giving it as an example of Bradbury's "magical realism." She noted that she particularly admired how Bradbury would tell stories about small towns and make them big and universal in their scope and meaning.
"I started researching Appalachian culture in 1998 and stopped in 2001," Fekete said. "I have many books on Appalachian life and religion and many of the Foxfire books and books on the Mine War era," she explained. "Most of that research is not even in the book."
Fekete said it took so long to finish the novel because "I would write three chapters and put it aside for months, then take it up again and write three more chapters. "
"When I went to grad school, I edited it and revised it many times," she said.
Along the way the original publisher who was interested in producing it went bankrupt. A new publisher was found when somebody had overheard passages from the manuscript at a reading. Fekete continued to submit the work to publishers and rack up rejection slips until she found an active publisher interested in the book.
"My mom said she would believe it when she saw it," Fekete quipped.
"The book is selling surprisingly well," she said. "We keep sending more copies to Amazon.com and they keep asking for more."
The Fekete family is no stranger to the arts. Andrea's father Terry Fekete is a well known wood carver who does laser engraving and her uncle Jerry Fekete is a well known photographer.