Karon Luddy has loved stories and writing as far back as she can remember. So, it’s Luddy’s dream come true to use her love for the written word as a published author.
The poet-turned-teacher-turned-novelist will visit Park Road Books for a reading Wednesday, Aug. 6. The event will start at 7 p.m. at the 4139 Park Road store and will include an opportunity for readers to meet Luddy, have her sign a book and learn more about her works including her latest novel, “Bewilderment of Boys.”
Luddy, a south Charlotte resident, grew up with a love for reading. Though her family wasn’t able to purchase many books for their home, Luddy spent a lot of time in her town and school libraries. She also grew up in the Christian church, with the Bible being a big part of her family’s life.
“I was looking for answers and an escape,” Luddy said. “I could truly live in the books and have another life … I had a hungry mind.”
Luddy started writing poetry and eventually attended Central Piedmont Community College and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she majored in English. She worked for Apple as the manager of the company’s education division in the Carolinas from 1989 to 1997.
“I loved the company, that was a great experience, but it became grueling, too, after a while,” Luddy said. She eventually made the decision to leave the company to spend more time with her family. “I felt like I had completed that corporate part of my life.”
Luddy decided to attend graduate school at Queens University of Charlotte to earn her master’s degree. During her time at the school, she became inspired to begin writing a novel – something she’d never done before.
“I tell people writing fiction is like going to the Biltmore House and having a toothbrush to scrub the whole house,” Luddy said. “It’s challenging and difficult, but I think that’s what made me want to do it.”
“Spelldown,” Luddy’s first novel, was published in January 2007. Luddy also had a book of poetry entitled “Wolf Heart” published a few months later. She received positive feedback from readers, many of whom loved the characters in “Spelldown” and urged her to write a follow-up novel – an idea Luddy rejected at first. However, the encouragement of her readers led her to craft her second novel – “Bewilderment of Boys,” released June 19 – as a follow-up to “Spelldown,” continuing the story of Karlene, the main character.
“I used to hate the word ‘sequel,’ (whether it was) about a movie, a book; now I love that word. I really understand the power of it,” Luddy said. “Why not build on something I already have, something that’s already rich and powerful?”
Writing the story was challenging, Luddy said, but she’s more than satisfied with the end product – a coming-of-age story set in the early 1970s amidst the Vietnam War. Seventeen-year-old Karlene is the center of the novel, which deals with everything from the wartime draft to the empowerment of women and even recovery from alcoholism.
“It’s a coming-of-age novel about a young woman coming to power in a tumultuous time,” Luddy said. “… It’s (about) trying to persevere, being true to yourself … deciding who you’re going to be.”
“Bewilderment of Boys” has already received critical acclaim, and Luddy also is receiving accolades from readers. Though she’s been caught in the whirlwind of the recent release date, Luddy plans to return to writing soon to potentially work on a fantasy novel or another Karlene-focused sequel – or possibly both at the same time.
“I definitely will write another novel, maybe two at the same time,” Luddy said. “I’m really anxious and eager to get that done.”
Luddy, who hosts seminars and teaches part time at UNC Charlotte, said the biggest thing she learned during the writing process for “Bewilderment of Boys” is how to write a sequel – something she plans to share with students and seminar attendees.
“I think I’m going to teach a seminar on writing a sequel for writers (focusing on) ways to do it, make it simpler and enjoy the process,” Luddy said.
Find more information including a link to purchase “Bewilderment of Boys” at www.karonluddy.com.