Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick
Mary Lou Stiverson has authored her first volume of short stories, “I Knew Me When…River Rat Musings.” She will be at Mount Sterling Public Library on Nov. 3 to sign and sell copies of her book, which was released this fall by Dorrance Publishing.
People who know Mary Lou Stiverson know her as an outgoing, colorful, energetic person. Guess what? She has a dark side, too.
The serious side of this Mount Sterling resident manifests itself in her first work of fiction, a book entitled “I Knew Me When…River Rat Musings,” published this fall by Dorrance Publishing Co. out of Pittsburgh, Pa.
Stiverson will be at Mount Sterling Public Library from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 3 to sign and sell copies of her book.
The slim collection of eight short stories covers a gamut of heavy topics, from loneliness, dementia and suicide to abortion, revenge and murder. In very different ways, all of the stories explore how human beings handle the curve balls life throws at them.
The characters range from a coal miner playing the fateful role of canary, to an adoring husband learning the truth about his deceptive wife, to a soldier lost at war. All are tragic figures.
When asked to describe her stories, Stiverson summed them up in one word—“mind-bending.”
“I myself don’t read fiction, but if I did, this is what I’d read—powerful things that happen in an instant,” she said. “In all of my stories, the ending is way out there, much like myself.”
Stiverson said she’s had the stories in her head since her college days, and at the urging of a former classmate, finally began writing them down last summer.
She submitted one story to Dorrance for review. The critique came back with positive comments and a request for more stories.
“I didn’t know I could do this,” said Stiverson, a retired teacher who spent 22 years in the Madison Plains Local School District and 30 years total in education. She also has served as an elected official and coordinates the genealogy section of Mount Sterling Library’s Web site.
Stiverson said she doesn’t have a method to her writing; the stories just come to her. For some of the stories in “I Knew Me When,” her upbringing on the Ohio River served as inspiration. For others, her interest in history was a factor. Much of the content, though, is purely from her imagination, she said.
As she embarks on her book tour, Stiverson is already at work on a second volume of short stories. The working title is “I Never Fried a Chicken.”
She also is pursuing a new venture—big, wild, handmade jewelry that she sells under the name “Louzart” on e-Bay and at Mac Worthington Gallerie in the Short North in Columbus. Stiverson describes her jewelry’s style as “menopause punk.”
“My jewelry is like my stories—not mass produced or done to order,” she said.
Stiverson is a graduate of Marshall University. She lives in Mount Sterling with her husband, James.
“I Knew Me When…River Rat Musings” can be purchased for $9 online at www.dorrancebookstore.com or by calling the publisher at 1-800-788-7654. It also is available at bookstores and online at www.amazon.com.