UNION — Union County Carnegie Library will welcome the public to a special treat Saturday as a regional author returns to the library to sign copies of his most recent work.
Jerrold Peeler — a 76-year-old Blacksburg native — has published his second book, “Trinity,” through his new company Swamp Rabbit. Peeler said “Trinity” — an historical novel — is the often-asked-for sequel to his first book, “Thicketty.”
Peeler started writing “Thicketty” – an historical novel set in upper Cherokee and Spartanburg counties between 1854 and 1871 – close to 30 years ago. Peeler describes both of his books as “historical fact with just enough fiction to tie it all together.”
Peeler wrote the majority of “Thicketty” by pulling from stories passed down through the generations within his family.
“I never thought about being a writer,” Peeler added. “I started trying to make a family tree and studying my genealogy.”
That process began in the 1970s. Peeler initially gathered information from his three great-aunts, who offered more information than he originally intended.
“They were all in their 90s but their minds were sharp as tacks. They insisted on telling me everything about the people,” Peeler said. “I found out who the best blacksmith was and who made the best moonshine.”
The stories were too good for Peeler to pass up, so he went out, bought a tape recorder and began to interview his aunts with a different vision for his novel in mind.
Some stories in the book also came from Peeler’s great-grandfather.
“He was born in 1861 – the year Abraham Lincoln took office,” Peeler said. “He used to sit by the fireplace and tell tales.”
Peeler remembers his great-grandfather telling stories that would be unbelievable to young people today, such as a story in which a slave won her freedom with gingerbread and tea.
“A little bit of every tale anybody ever told me is woven into the fabric of the story,” Peeler added.
Peeler said the feedback he received from “Thicketty” was all very positive.
“One lady said I almost cost her her job,” Peeler laughed. “She sat down at her dinner table and started reading. Then, she couldn’t sleep so she got up in the middle of the night and finished it. The problem was she kept nodding off at work that next day.”
Peeler said after “Thicketty” came out, readers continuously asked him about a sequel. “I actually already had a couple of chapters written before the first one came out,” Peeler explained.
“Trinity” picks up where “Thicketty” left off, following the three main characters as they trek from Upstate South Carolina to Texas.
Peeler’s literary influences include Shelby Foote, the author of the three-volume “The Civil War: A Narrative,” and Texas author John Warren Smith, who wrote “No Holier Spot of Ground” which is of the same “historical novel” genre as Peeler’s “Thicketty.”
The book signing will take place from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Union County Carnegie Library. For more information, call (864) 427-7140 or visit www.unionlibrary.org.
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at email@example.com.