Off-the-grid author wins Southern Fried Karma Novel Contest

Brenda Marie Smith

NEWNAN, Ga.— Brenda Marie Smith is the 2018 winner of the Southern Fried Karma Novel Contest for her manuscript “If Darkness Should Take Us.” Smith will receive a $1,500 advance and her novel will be published by Newnan, GA based SFK Press in October 2019.

“If Darkness Should Take Us” is the story of an educated Southern grandmother who is left alone to care for four grandchildren when a solar electromagnetic pulse fries the U.S. grid, taking cars, phones, and running water down with it.

“Living off the grid for years and raising five sons helped me bring authenticity to the story,” Smith said.

Smith’s manuscript was selected by final judge Pinckney Benedict.

“This ambitious post-apocalyptic novel reminds me strongly of the classic George R. Stewart novel Earth Abides, published in 1949, or the justly famous 1983 film Testament. It studiously avoids melodrama, concentrating instead on the everyday lives of the survivors of an unknown cataclysm that has left them without the modern conveniences to which they, to which we all, are so accustomed. There is no spectacle such as we are used to in end-of-the-world stories, but much real, identifiable humanity. The book’s effect is slowly cumulative, subtle and sweet and sad, and the events it depicts are utterly believable, and shattering in their homeliness and intensity,” Benedict said.

“After struggling in the writing trenches for so long, to suddenly win the Southern Fried Karma novel contest is blowing my mind. And the fact that winning includes a publishing contract with such a distinguished group of like-minded pros who share my love of Southern literature puts me so far over the moon, I may never come down,” Smith said. “Though I can hardly believe my good fortune, it looks like, at long last, I have found my literary home.”

Brenda Marie Smith studied fiction in the UCLA Writers Program. She and her husband reside in a solar-powered home in South Austin. They have five grown sons, two grandchildren, and a self-assured kitty cat.  “If Darkness Should Take Us” is her second novel.

The following authors and their manuscripts were named as runner ups:

Bob Mann, “Shotgun Joe”

June Sylvester Saraceno, “Feral, North Carolina, 1965”

The following authors and their manuscripts were named as finalists:

Candice Connor, “The Existence of Bea Pearl”

Ellen Birkett Morris, “Another Small Town”

Yong Takahashi, “Intersections”

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When There’s Summer Left, There’s Reading Left

Why not check out SFK Press author Cathy Adams’s hysterical and haunting novel about a disjointed working-class family striving to piece together the shreds of their tattered American Dream? A Body’s Just as Dead is available in paperback and eBook format now!

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Looking for a thrilling summer read? Aftermath by George Weinstein is available everywhere now!

“Janet Wright left tiny Graylee, Georgia, at age five, when her mother fled a destructive marriage. Now forty and reinventing herself after a failed engagement, Janet returns as the sole inheritor of her recently murdered father’s valuable estate. Life should be easy, but she can’t resist pulling at the threads of the apparently open-and-shut case. Before long, she finds herself tangled in Graylee’s web of secrets, lies, and scandals—and in fear for her own life.”

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