Scoggins sets historical
novel in town near Madison
Armstrong to give Scoggins
key to city in Jan. ceremony
(January 2009) Melissa Scoggins found herself
traveling on a train headed back in time. When she arrived at her destination,
a stranger was holding a sign that said, Weve been waiting
for you to come.
When Scoggins awoke from the bizarre, yet vivid, dream,
she knew she had met the characters for a novel she was supposed to
Her historical novel, Journeys of Choice: Joannas Crossroads,
has been published by FirstWorks Publishing Inc., a niche publisher
based in Atlanta. The novel is set in a small fictional town outside
of Madison, Ind., during 1885. It tells the story of Joanna Garrett,
a young woman forced to flee her home in North Carolina after being
branded a suffragette. Garrett becomes a teacher in Indiana and tries
to rebuild her life with the help of Edgar McGill and his sister, Laura,
despite the conniving and manipulation of town socialite Lucy Sheppard.
Scoggins, an appellate lawyer from Weaverville, N.C., will be in Madison
on Jan. 23-24 for several speaking engagements and a book signing. At
11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 23, Scoggins is scheduled to be presented the key
to the City of Madison by Madison Mayor Tim Armstrong. The ceremony
is open to the public.
She will be at the Madison Mercantile, 220 W. Main St., from 5 p.m.
to 7 p.m. for the weekly wine and hors doeuvres event held there.
After that, she will be at the Village Lights Bookstore, 110 E. Main
St., from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. for a book signing. During the afternoons
of Jan. 23-24, Scoggins will make an appearance at Hanover College and
then the Madison-Jefferson County Public Library. Details of those appearances
are still being planned.
I am very excited to be returning to Madison, said Scoggins,
55, during a December telephone interview. I will be arriving
in Madison just about the time of year that my character, Joanna, arrived
in her town near Madison.
Scoggins has been an attorney for 27 years. She was the only female
lawyer in her firm during the early years of her career, and she was
the first female trial lawyer most Virginia judges had encountered.
In 1974, she received a journalism degree from Indiana University and
later earned her law degree in 1981 at Washington and Lee University
School of Law. She is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court
and has appeared there twice on brief.
For the past few years, Scoggins has worked just part-time as an attorney;
she has devoted the rest of her time to her family and her writing.
Ive liked to write since the time I could first hold a pencil,
she said. I decided I wanted to write a novel by the time I reached
50 years old, so thats what I set out to do.
It took her 1 1/2 years to complete her first draft, and then she set
out to find a publisher. FirstWorks Publishing Inc., a small publishing
company dedicated to developing new authors, was impressed with her
work. Scoggins characters are truly alive and interesting,
said FirstWorks owner Diane Martin. She did a remarkable job of
conceptualizing the story.
Martin was so impressed with Scoggins work, she decided to personally
mentor her and help edit the novel. It took the team 10 months to finalize
the final draft.
Scoggins has already started writing the novel when she decided to set
the story in a small town in Indiana. She chose to set her fictional
town near Madison because of the towns rich history and geography.
It had everything I needed including a railroad, a college and
a river, she said.
She decided she needed to visit Madison to do some research. The very
week she made that decision, a friend who she had lost touch with, Margot
Henderson, emailed her and asked her to come visit her new home in Madison.
The creation of this novel has also been a spiritual journey for
me, said Scoggins. When Henderson told me where she was
living, I was thrilled.
Henderson, who worked with Scoggins at a law firm, owns the Madison
Creamery, 115 W. Main St. I didnt even know Scoggins was
writing a novel, said Henderson. She now works as Scoggins
publicist. I was thrilled when she decided to come visit me.
Scoggins spent several days in Madison doing historical research and
getting the flavor of the town. She said she found it difficult to leave.
I am looking forward to talking to the descendants of Joannas
time, to walk near the river where she walked, and to visit the beautiful
part of history that is Hanover College.
For more information about Melissa Scoggins
visit to Madison, call Margot Henderson at (812) 265-4278 or visit:
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