McMullen Circle

The Puppeteer's Daughters is the 2023 NC Indie Author Project Pick for Best Adult Fiction!

I'm thrilled to share that The Puppeteer's Daughters is the 2023 adult Fiction Winner for this year's Indie Author Project book awards! Learn more about the Indie Author Project and all regional winners here:

Join me for SUCH A CHARACTER, 5-week class starting June 5, 2023

What if I told you this:

When my parents married in 1957, my father was French. He signed his name “Paien” and gave my mother a set of French conversation records she can still quote from today: “Je m’appelle Jean LeCharpentier mais je ne suis pas charpentier, ha ha ha.” One Sunday they drove from the small town in Bladen County where my dad served as a Methodist pastor to Pinehurst to eat at an upscale French restaurant. It was so expensive all they could afford was the green beans, les haricots verts. Soon thereafter my father became an Eskimo.

My father’s name is Carl. He grew up a Methodist preacher’s kid. As far as we know his only map-able genes are Scots-Irish and English. His selection of Eskimo heritage did make a kind of sense, because he was born in Nome, Alaska, where his parents were missionaries to a mining community. They moved from Alaska when he was two, first to the Seattle area and then to North Carolina. My dad was eight when his family moved to North Carolina, where his father pastored various churches in Swan Quarter, Elizabethtown, Pittsboro, Burlington. To protest the move my dad refused ever to develop a southern accent.

By the time I was born in 1963 my father had left the ministry, moved the family to Raleigh, and become Danish. He hung a large red and white Danish flag above his desk in our living room. When my third grade teacher asked us to tell our heritage, she must have been surprised when I, with my brown eyes and un-Viking-like dark hair, claimed Danish ancestry. 

When I was twelve, my father became Greek. He listened to balalaika music and learned Greek folk dances. He was the first person in Raleigh to discover feta cheese and kalamata olives. He named himself “Karlos,” which he spelled with Greek letters. He took a trip to Greece, bringing me back drachmas I could bend with my teeth and the palm-sized casing of some sea creature, bleached white by the sun and still smelling of the Aegean. 

My dad was Greek for a long time--through a divorce, his children leaving home, his mother dying. All the letters he wrote me in college were signed Karlos.

Now my father is Scandinavian.

If I told you all this (some of which is true) you would say, “your father is such a character!”

We’ve all known people about whom we’ve said “he [or she] is such a character.” Often we follow this statement by shaking our heads, rolling our eyes, or perhaps adding a “bless his heart.” What is it about these folks that makes them so interesting and unforgettable? How can we make our fictional characters just as compelling, without sacrificing credibility or resorting to stereotype? Those are the questions we’ll explore in my 5-week “Such A Character” workshop through the Great Smokies Writing Program this summer, starting June 5th. Register HERE.

The Puppeteer's Daughters is a Finalist for the Forword Indies Book of the Year (General Fiction)!

The Puppeteer's Daughters has been recognized as a Finalist in the 25th annual Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards! As part of its mission to discover, review, and share the best books from university and independent publishers, Foreword Magazine, Inc. hosts an annual awards program each year. Finalists represent the best books published in 2022. […]

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The Puppeteer's Daughters Out in Paperback March 7th

If you or your book club haven't yet read The Puppeteer's Daughters, now is your chance. The paperback is available March 7, 2023. Here is what reviewers have to say: "A complicated father-daughter story that fulfills its promise. Fans of Tara Conklin’s The Last Romantics and Melissa Scholes Young’s The Hive will love this." --Library Journal “An aging, celebrated […]

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McMullen Circle Is a Finalist for the Thomas Wolfe Award

I'm honored to be in wonderful company as a finalist for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award. The other finalists, whose work shows fascinating aspects of our region, are Anne Chesky Smith – Murder at Asheville’s Battery Park Hotel: The Search for Helen Clevenger’s Killer; Lance Greene – Their Determination to Remain: A Cherokee Community’s Resistance to […]

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Learn More About The Puppeteer's Daughters

Want to learn more about The Puppeteer's Daughters? Listen to my August 2nd conversation with author Tommy Hays at Malaprop's, in which we discuss fathers and daughters, puppets (I brought one) and the writing life:

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It's Pub Week!

THE PUPPETEER'S DAUGHTERS is now available for order from fine booksellers everywhere! If you read it and like it, please post a review on Goodreads or Amazon. If your book club reads it, get in touch! There are book club discussion questions at the back of the book and I love Zooming with book clubs […]

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Pre-order Promotion for The Puppeteer's Daughters: order from select bookstores and get a free gift!

THE PUPPETEER'S DAUGHTERS is now available for pre-order from fine booksellers everywhere. Order now through the end of June 2022 from one of the following three fine Indie booksellers, and I'll not only sign your copy, I'll include this beautiful 6"x9" art piece created by artist Katrin Dohse inspired by the novel with the first 30 pre-orders fulfilled […]

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