I was born in the Appalachian Mountains in the small coal-mining town of Grundy, which was almost ten miles from the Kentucky border. Our home at on Main Street, and we had the Levisa Fork River running right behind it. After graduating from college my mother had moved to Grundy to become a teacher in a school. My father was owned and operated a Ben Franklin store in our town.
Right after I graduated from Hollins with a Bachelors degree in English, I got married to my husband. My husband James is a poet and teacher, and since his teaching assignments kept on changing, I would accompany him from one university to another. Although I kept myself busy raising my two little boys, Josh and Page, and writing reviews for local papers, but sadly I did not find enough time for my own fiction. Nonetheless, I somehow managed to complete Something in the Wind, my second novel, by 1971, and was glad that it garnered generally favorable reviews. I was further delighted that critics widely praised Fancy Strut, the next novel that I published in 1973, as a comic masterpiece.
In 1974, I moved with my family to Chapel Hill in North Carolina and seven years later in 1981, I finished and published Black Mountain Breakdown. I know that you my readers found this particular work much darker than you had expected, but that is what I had intended to do, to perplex you, to make it seem like a light read even though it wasn’t. Between 1978 and 1980, I was also awarded O. Henry Awards for the short stories that I wrote during that period. In 1981, I also published my first collection of short stories. I must also mention that I am no longer married to James because my marriage broke up around this time. Since then, I spent the next many years of my life teaching in Raleigh at the North Carolina State University. I believe that I became exposed to most of you who are reading this letter in 1983 when I published Oral History, my fifth novel. I published my sixth book Family Linen as a dedication to my husband Hal, who I married in 1985.
Since then, I have published many novels and collection of short stories, but you are probably reading this letter after reading my novel Fair and Tender Ladies that I published in 1988. Over these years, writing has helped me discovered a narrative voice that has always reminded me of home in the town of Grundy and the people there. Many of you who are reading this letter must have noticed this voice of mine in many of my works after 1980. I write this letter from my home in Hillsborough, North Carolina and I must now bid farewell to you my readers. It was a pleasure writing to you and reliving my past by writing about my early life and career.
Smith, L. (1988). Fair and tender ladies. New York: Berkley Books.