The title of the book was Firefly Hollow by T.L. Haddix. At 2 a.m. on one of those sub-zero nights we went through around the first of the year, I found myself, for the first time ever, in front of the computer googling the author’s name in hopes of finding some contact information so that I could tell him or her that I had never been so deeply gut-hooked 75 pages into a novel, as he or she had just pulled off.
Turned out the author is a woman, Tabatha Haddix, who lives in London but grew up in Perry County where she graduated Dilce Combs High School in 1994. Also turned out that she has written and published 27 novels, using four different pen names since 2009. Over the last two months, I have read 21 of her books in two different series, one of which was written under the pen name, Alex Collins.
Before I go any further, let me advise you that these books contain a few explicitly described sexual encounters in the context of committed romantic relationships and that the dialogue frequently contains some cursing and expletive language when certain characters are angry or frustrated. While I would not expect to find them in a Christian bookstore, I still found the stories, in both series, to be very inspirational because the characters usually face and overcome adversity, oftentimes when the deck of life is stacked against them. I am also a big fan of happy endings and these books end that way.
Firefly Hollow, the first title in a series of 14 novels that follow the originating story, is set in the 1960s mostly on three small farms, two near Hazard in Perry County and another near London in Laurel County. It is laced with the trials and tribulations of growing up in eastern Kentucky during that time period.
While the story is centered around the complicated romance of Owen Campbell and Sarah Browning, I found myself more fascinated with the way the author is able to weave traditional Appalachian folklore into and throughout the entire series that continues to build from the ‘60s into current time. The series follows the lives of Owen and Sarah’s children and grandchildren with superbly developed characters that I now consider family. Owen and Sarah remain central characters throughout the entire series until Owen is an incredibly active octogenarian.
Such things as shape shifting, special healing powers, communicating with the dead, extraordinary skills with growing plants, dealing with numbers, intuitive abilities and dealing with animals, etc., are incorporated into the characters in ways that make them come across as good, positive and believable attributes. Colloquial eastern Kentucky dialogue often flavors the narrative such that readers familiar with the area will know where they are. The books are available in both e-reader and paperback. Visit her website at tlhaddix.com.
The Olman County series, written under Tabatha’s pen name, Alex Collins, is set, primarily, in fictional (not to be confused with the actual) Leroy, Indiana some 70 miles north of Louisville. The genre is described as women’s romantic suspense. I may have to turn in my man card because I am as hooked on this series as I am with Firefly Hollow. Please google Alex Collins and read the summaries. I can almost guarantee that if you read the first title, Homecoming, you will be unable to resist downloading the sequels. Both series are available on all the ereader digital formats as well as paperback from Amazon and other booksellers. I would have serious problems living without my Kindle and not just because the books cost less than half the price of paper editions.
We’re about out of space here, but I would be remiss without mentioning that Tabatha’s husband, Glendon, has designed and created the book covers and other graphics for all her books. They now run a successful business providing that service and numerous others to authors and publishing houses nationwide.
If you or anyone you know has written a book, streetlightgraphics.com can help get it ready for prime time. See Glendon’s amazing cover art on the author’s website.
If you want to communicate with Tabatha, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.