***Published: July 16, 2009 in the Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier.***
For Adda Leah Davis, working on a book called "Jason's Journey" has been a journey all in itself.
Published by the Charleston, W.Va.-based Mountain State Press, "Jason's Journey" ($14.95) is a follow-up to "Lucinda's Mountain," a love story that takes place in McDowell County, W.Va.
"Lucinda" follows the tale of a young girl born and raised in an innocent time. The more recent release, "Jason's Journey," marks Davis's second full-length novel.
But, these aren't her first books. A retired schoolteacher, Davis walked into the world of authors when she wrote a series of educational workbooks a few years ago.
Later, she tackled a self-published project called "Caleb's Song," a children's book released in 2003. Along the way, Davis also wrote a book on the history of a primitive Baptist minister. Now in her 70s, Davis said writing has been a lifelong avocation.
The youngest in a family of 10 children, Davis said she started writing "when I learned how to write my name."
Like "Lucinda's Mountain," the recent "Jason's Journey" also takes place in McDowell County, as well as Pittsburgh, Pa., in the 1950s. This, too, is a work of historical fiction. And it's probably natural that Davis wrote it. Davis once called McDowell County home. For six years, she served as the coal county's director of economic development. And she earned a nickname – "The Can-Do Lady."
Today, while no longer in West Virginia, "The Can-Do Lady" – now living in Russell County, Va. – is still championing McDowell County's strength, beauty and history through her books.
The hero in "Jason's Journey," Jason McCall, is a young doctor who loves challenges. At the onset of the book, he embarks on a journey that takes him through cultural clashes, unrequited love, the Korean War and a new field of medicine. It's a romance. It's an adventure. Throughout it all, McCall encounters marriage, fatherhood and the political machine running McDowell County.
At one turn, Davis writes about Yukon – a community she describes as having "a large company store, other stores and a doctor's office and the usual houses on stilts on the hillsides ... This community, unlike Coalwood, had two facilities which proclaimed in bold signs that they were beer joints or saloons."
In another section, David writes about the music of the era – the likes of Nat King Cole singing about romance and Perry Como crooning about blossoms and trees.
"Jason's Journey" actually grew out of 40 pages that had to be cut from the original manuscript of "Lucinda's Mountain," Davis said.
Artist Rhonda Whited designed the book cover for the 332-page book, just as she did for "Lucinda's Mountain."
Davis is signing copies of her books at the 2009 Virginia Highlands Festival on July 27, book space No. 9, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.