Sharyn McCrumb reads from her new Ballad novel, "Prayers the Devil Answers," and signs books at an event Sunday, May 15 at 3 p.m. at Sinking Spring Presbyterian Church in Abingdon, Va. The event is free and is sponsored by the Friends of the Washington County Public Library.
The novel is a Depression-era tale about Ellie Robbins who, after her husband's death, is appointed to serve out his term as sheriff in rural East Tennessee. Ellis is a strong woman, but she is forced to combat society's expectations of a woman when she has to execute a condemned prisoner with whom she has tenuous ties.
The author is best known for her Appalachian "Ballad" novels, which weave together the legends, natural wonders and contemporary issues of Appalachia. Her novels include New York Times best sellers, "She Walks These Hills" and "The Rosewood Casket" that deal with the issue of the vanishing wilderness; "The Ballad of Frankie Silver," the story of the first woman hanged for murder in North Carolina; "The Songcatcher," a genealogy in music, and "Ghost Riders," an account of the Civil War in the Appalachians. More recent novels are "The Devil Amongst the Lawyers" which examines the media stereotyping of rural areas, and "The Ballad of Tom Dooley," that brings to light new evidence in the true story behind the famous mountain ballad.
McCrumb's great-grandfathers were circuit preachers in the North Carolina Smoky Mountains a hundred years ago, riding horseback over the ridges to preach in a different community each week. It is from these men that McCrumb says she gets her regard for books, her gift of storytelling and public speaking and her love of the Appalachian Mountains.