Known for her “ballad” novels about Appalachia, McCrumb will be making a stop in Kingsport on Wednesday during a book tour for her newest release, “The Unquiet Grave.”
The novel expands on the story of West Virginia’s Greenbrier Ghost, the only time in American history that a ghost’s testimony was used to convict a murderer.
“People have written folktales about this story, but typically they cover it in two and a half pages. They don’t do any research, and when you try to do a long, complicated story in two pages, you tend to smooth things out rather than get into complicated issues,” McCrumb said. “I wanted to take that story out of folklore and put it back into history.”
Ever since she was a young girl, McCrumb always knew she wanted to become a writer. So, she set out to do exactly that.
“In the second grade when the class was evenly divided between cowboys and stewardesses, I was the one who said I was going to be an author,” McCrumb said. “Nobody believed me, but I just kept at it.”
Since then, McCrumb has authored several works, including “The Ballad of Frankie Silver,” which tells the story of the first woman to be hanged for murder in North Carolina; “King’s Mountain,” which depicts the Overmountain Men of the Revolutionary War; and “Ghost Riders,” an account of the Civil War in the mountains of western North Carolina.
Her Newest Novel
McCrumb’s latest work recounts the mystery surrounding the death of Zona Heaster in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, in the late 1800s. Though Zona’s death was ruled an accident, her mother, Mary Jane Heaster, believed there was more to the story.
So, Mary Jane set out to meet with the prosecutor in the case. She told him that her daughter Zona’s ghost appeared to her three times and described how she was strangled to death by her husband. The prosecutor reluctantly agreed to order an autopsy, and the results confirmed the murder claim.
Her Visit to Kingsport
McCrumb said she has visited Kingsport before and enjoys the area. She will return to sign books and discuss her latest novel this Wednesday at I Love Books in the Fort Henry Mall from 6-8 p.m.
Those who purchase a copy of the book at I Love Books before the event can get a ticket for priority seating.