Though she now lives in Knoxville, Bohannon’s roots in this region have stayed with her through the years. Her latest work, “Earlene’s Parade,” is partially set in Hiltons, and many Scott County events and landmarks play prominent roles in the story.
For this month’s book column, I spoke with Bohannon about her background, her love for writing fiction and her plans for the future.
What is your background?
Bohannon grew up in the small Scott County community of Rye Cove and graduated from what was then known as Rye Cove Memorial High School. She attended Virginia Intermont College before transferring to the University of Kentucky, where she received her bachelor’s degree.
After working various jobs, including teaching at Gate City High School and Ross N. Robinson Middle School, she earned her master’s degree in social psychology at Purdue University. She later moved to Knoxville and earned her doctorate in sociology from the University of Tennessee.
What led you to write fiction?
Though she was already familiar with academic writing, Bohannon decided to give fiction writing a try after her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Her first book, “Sleep Tight,” is a Christian fiction novel that features a character with the disease.
“They say write what you know, and I certainly had firsthand experience with that,” Bohannon said. “I thought it was a good way to educate people about Alzheimer’s, but in a fictional setting.”
Bohannon’s second book, “Earlene’s Parade,” was released in June of last year, though it was in the works many years before that.
“I knew the ending of that story sometime in the 1990s; it’s a surprise ending,” Bohannon said. “So when I started writing it about two and a half years ago, I had to work backwards to get to the beginning of the story.”
Earlene, the story’s protagonist, grows up in Scott County and eventually becomes the wife of the vice president. The book mentions many iconic Scott County staples, including the Hob-Nob and the Scott County Tobacco Festival, which used to take place every year.
What are your plans for the future?
Bohannon said she has considered writing a prequel and a follow-up to “Earlene’s Parade,” though no plans are set in stone.
“I have certainly been playing around with that,” Bohannon said, “but I’m not going to guarantee that I will again.”
For now, Bohannon is content with the success of her current books, the newest of which has sold more than 500 copies. Both books are available for purchase on Amazon as either a hardcopy or an e-book.
Holly Viers is a general assignment reporter for the Kingsport Times News.