The University of South Carolina Press (USC Press) has named bestselling author Pat Conroy editor-at-large of Story River Books, their new South Carolina-based original fiction series. “The University of South Carolina has always played a role in my life and the intellectual life of South Carolina,” says Conroy who credits Jonathan Haupt, director of the USC Press, as being “one of the best editors I’ve come across in fiction.” Haupt believes Conroy is the ideal mentor for the series. "I was thrilled when he volunteered to shepherd this new initiative. As Pat says, he feels a complicated love for our state and a sense of duty in helping foster the writing careers of her many fine storytellers. Pat's writing exemplifies what we hope the Story River Books series will be, masterful approaches to universal themes, still rooted in a recognizable portrait of South Carolina."
Under Conroy, Story River Books - named for a river Conroy swam as a teenager - will brand and grow USC Press's commitment to publishing top-notch regional fiction. The series will focus on original novels and short story collections about South Carolina. As stated in the press release, “The new series will publish books in which South Carolina is the main if not always exclusive setting. While the series books may diverge greatly in style and themes, they will collectively present new perspectives on the dynamic, complex, and oft-contested past and present of a recognizable South Carolina for readers both within and beyond the Palmetto State.”
The Story River Books fiction series will highlight a wide-ranging representation of Palmetto State writers by gender, geography, and race. Conroy notes of his teaming up with USC Press, “I want to help other southern writers, especially South Carolina writers in the series. I was once a Centerville kid in High School who wanted to be a novelist, and someone helped me.” In fact it was Conroy’s English teacher who took him to meet then poet laureate of South Carolina, Archibald Rutledge. “All I had was a desire. I would love to see young writers come out of college and know there is a possibility to be a novelist. I want to find great writers, books that can change you and alter your vision of the world. “
The announcement is timely, as the City of Columbia will declare Saturday, May 18, as Pat Conroy Day. Conroy will be presented with a Key to the City in honor of his new role and his appearance at the 2013 South Carolina Book Festival on the same day.
Story River Books plans to publish 3-4 books per year. The first title in the series will be A Southern Girl: A Novel by John Warley, to be released in May 2014.