McMullen Circle


Book Club Discussion Questions for MCMULLEN CIRCLE

Is your book club considering reading McMullen Circle? I've provided some discussion questions below, and if you're interested in having me Zoom into the discussion for a few minutes, contact me through my website. I love book clubs!

Book Club Discussion Questions for McMullen Circle

  1. Of the recurring characters in these stories, who was your favorite? Why?
  2. Some have described McMullen Circle as “a novel in stories.” In what ways does the collection read like a novel? In what ways is it different from a novel?
  3. The mountain is a character in the first and last stories in the collection, and makes a cameo appearance in “Things Summoned.” Newton has said her inspiration for these pieces was the question, “What if the places we love love us back?” Are there geographical places that are special to you? Why are they special? Do you think those places love you back?
  4. The stories in this collection explore what makes a hero, asking whether heroism requires physical bravery (walking a tightrope, serving in the military), or if there are other ways to be a hero. Which characters do you think are heroes? Which characters are not heroes?
  5. The Story “Wish I May” includes scenes on a public school bus. Did you ride a school bus to school? What do you remember (good or bad) about the microcosm of your school bus?
  6. Children in these linked stories learn about racism for the first time. Do you remember when you first became aware of racism? 
  7. Stories such as “The Preferred Embodiment,” “Good Boys,” “Wish I May” and “Breaking Bread” show characters parenting in very different ways. Can you relate to these parents? What grade would you give to Elana, Richard, Sarah, the Pickenses and others for their parenting?
  8. If you could add another story to this collection, who and what would you want it to be about?

Owenby Family Tree

For those of you who like a family tree to help keep characters straight in a family drama novel, here's one my 6th grader drew for the Owenby Clan of Solace Fork:

Owenby Family Tree

Under The Mercy Trees  A beautifully-rendered, heartbreaking first novel about a man forced to face his troubled past when he returns to his small hometown in the mountains of North Carolina after the disappearance of his brother.

“Under the Mercy Trees is an amazing novel, driven by mystery, and weaving past and present stories into an intricate and mesmerizing design. . . . . An extraordinary piece of work.”
--Jill McCorkle, author of Going Away Shoes

Irons in the Fire: Stories from the Flatiron Writers

Irons in the FireIn 1993, a group of writers including Heather Newton, Toby Heaton and Geneve Bacon began meeting in Asheville’s Flatiron Building to critique one another’s work. In 2007, as the Flatiron Writers, they won a Regional Artist Project Grant from state and local arts councils to publish this anthology of eclectic short fiction.

“A beautifully written collection of stories”
— Byron Ballard, Verve Magazine

“Newton is attracted to ‘Water Stories,’ and delivers moments in the lives of diverse characters with authority and empathy.”
— The Asheville Citizen Times

Other Writings

Read my essay, "Lessons in Table Manners and Life," in the IPPY-winning anthology The Carolina Table from Eno Press. The Carolina Table

27 Views of AshevilleRead my short story, "House of Twigs," in 27 Views of Asheville (Eno Press 2012).

Childhood Writings

Click image to download PDF.