Women and Adversity:
Adele Myers, Novelist
The Tobacco Wives
Pelican Bookstore in Sunset Beach, North Carolina continues to schedule authors to give presentations. These authors appear at nearby Silver Coast Winery in Ocean Isle Beach since the bookstore has limited space. Novelist Adele Myers, a North Carolina native, gave her presentation March 31 and talked of her first novel, The Tobacco Wives. As I’ve written in the past, I ask women who have made a name for themselves as successful writers what obstacles stood and still stand in their way as a writer.
“I fumbled my way through,” she says. “I had no idea how long it takes and how many setbacks there are. You just have to be persistent, and I think there’s a lot of luck.”
Myers opens the door into the lives of tobacco industry wives from the 1940s. She knew a lot about the tobacco industry since her parents and grandparents worked for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Her grandmother was a hairdresser for many wives who were married to tobacco industry executives, and she labeled the women ‘the tobacco wives.’ In the book, teen Maddie Sykes comes to live with her Aunt Etta, a seamstress for the ‘tobacco wives.’ Maddie learns about their lives and discovers a letter that reveals a tobacco industry secret about the dangers of smoking. All the world knows about them now.
· Grew up in Asheville, North Carolina
· Spent a lot of time in Winston-Salem
· Earned a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
· Moved to New York where she got—and still has—a full-time job in advertising
· Married, has a son
· The Tobacco Wives started as a short story more than 20 years ago
· About eight years ago, she decided to write a novel
· The obstacle: “Not knowing how to write a novel,” she says.
· A former teacher suggested some books on plot and character
· She joined a writers’ group where other women were published. “That made a difference,” she says. “They encouraged me and said I could get the book published. Sometimes your obstacles are your own beliefs or limited beliefs about yourself and lack of confidence.”
· Contacted 70-80 agents over 18 months before an agent had faith in the book.
· The Tobacco Wives was published in 2022.
“My path to publishing has been paved with women who have encouraged me and validated me,” she says. “I always knew I wanted to write. To spend so much time on a story, not knowing whether anyone’s going to want to read it, I think you kind of have to have a couple of screws loose.”
What obstacles she faces now:
· Has a contract to write her next book. “I have a year to write it,” she says. “That will be a different experience from my first book.”
My ebooks available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com:
Honoring 23 Black Women, Recognizing 23 Notable Mothers, Saluting 23 Faithful Suffragists