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article imageOp-Ed: New novel is compared to Laura Ingalls Wilder's books Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Dec 3, 2014 in Entertainment
San Francisco - To the delight of novelist, Martha Conway, her latest work, "Thieving Forest" was well-recieved at its launch book-signing and reading event at Booksmith bookshop in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury District this past Nov. 11.
Over 50 people showed up and Conway was especially pleased that some in the audience were there because of articles published in The Sunset Beacon and Digital Journal by this reporter, announcing "Thieving Forest"'s release.
Yet even more exciting is the reviews and media attention the novel is getting, especially back in Ohio, which is where the novel's story line is set. Reason why that is important is because San Francisco-based Conway is originally from Ohio. The Akron Beacon Journal noted that "though 'Thieving Forest' does not have the language quirks of a Charles Portis’ novel, (Conway's main character of) Susana Quiner too has true grit." The Akron Beacon Journal's review described Conway's work as an "extra­-ordinary new historical novel."
Set amid Ohio s Great Black Swamp   Thieving Forest  is a story of five sisters who after the death ...
Set amid Ohio's Great Black Swamp, "Thieving Forest" is a story of five sisters who after the death of the parents from 'swamp fever' are faced with having to survive a harsh but expansive landscape. It is a story about sisterly bonds but it is also a story about conflict as well as the need and the will to survive.
Courtesy of novelist Martha Conway
In terms of book sales for that initial San Francisco book launch-signing event, "it was a success, Conway told this reporter. Booksmith was very pleased because they sold 29 books that Tuesday evening."
Humaira Ghilzai who helped coordinate the book-signing launch was also very pleased as she said,
"I was surprised by the turn out. I've organized several book signings and attended many events at this location - by far, this was the most successful." "Perhaps people are thirsty for 'real stories' written by people they can relate to," she said.
The storyline set in the early pioneer days of Ohio's Great Black Swamp, stirred many people's imaginations and reminded them of "The Little House On The Prairie" series based upon Laura Ingalls Wilder's recollections of life in 19th Century America in the Midwest region.
Conway did read some of those books growing up. But details about The Great Black Swamp was unknown to her, until she started research for this her second novel.
"People were very interested in Martha's research, said Ghilzai and how she arrived at writing about the five sisters." "There were many historical questions and of course questions about Martha's writing process." Conway did say, when she talked with this reporter in October that she had tried several attempts before setting the stage of the novel in Ohio. She honestly had never heard of the Great Black Swamp before, even though she was born and raised in Ohio. Conway also said that she was determined to write something authentic, honest and down-to-earth, moving away from the fanciful "12 Bliss Street."
 Thieving Forest  is author Martha Conway s second novel. It was very well received on Nov. 11 at Bo...
"Thieving Forest" is author Martha Conway's second novel. It was very well received on Nov. 11 at Booksmith bookshop in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury District.
Courtesy of Martha Conway
"What I found interesting was that many people drew parallels to the 'Little House' books of Laura Ingalls Wilder," said Ghilzai. Perhaps there is a Young Adult audience (out there) who are tired of fictional lives of the Hunger Games and thirsty for reconnecting to their past," added Ghilzai.
"Praveen and Christen, noted Ghilzai are owners of The Booksmith. They are advocates of Indie publishers. At at time when most bookstores shove the indie published books into a corner away, from the "real" books - The Booksmith team is generous, supportive and encouraging," she said.
Conway is eager to have another gathering at Book Passage, another local establishment with two locations; one at the Ferry Building in San Francisco and the other across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin at Corte Madera.
Ghilzai is also a writer. And, while she admits she has been too busy working on her own novel to read anyone else's work, she did say, "what I've read, (so far) I've enjoyed thoroughly. Partly because, I know nothing about Ohio or the relations between natives and whites in that era." "I plan to put my feet up during the holidays and finish the book." "However, she said, I do follow Martha's blog and have read some of the shorter pieces she has written. I find her to be a gifted writer with a great sense of humor."
To learn more about "Thieving Forest" and Martha Conway, visit her web site.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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