Quillen’s second novel, “Wayland,” was released on Monday and is available online and at I Love Books in the Fort Henry Mall. She will visit the store on Oct. 5 to sign books and meet readers, and there is no cost to attend.
What’s your background?
Quillen was born and raised in Hiltons and now lives in Midway, between Gate City and Fort Blackmore. She graduated from Gate City High School and East Tennessee State University before beginning a career in teaching.
“I taught at Northeast State for about 13 or 14 years,” Quillen said, “and then I went to Mountain Empire Community College and finished out my career there. I retired from Mountain Empire in 2013.”
How did you get into writing books?
An avid reader, Quillen had dreamed of being a writer since childhood. Her work was first published in magazines while she was in college, and her first book, published in the late 1980s, was a collection of poetry.
“I’m better known as a poet, actually, and I’ve published more books of poetry,” Quillen said. “The novels were just always a dream. I worked on those off and on for years while I worked, but it wasn’t until I retired and really had time to devote to it that I did the novels.”
“Wayland” is Quillen’s eighth published book, though it’s only her second novel. Her first novel, “Hiding Ezra,” was released in 2014 and was well-received locally, which inspired her to write a sequel.
Describe the new book.
Published by Iris Press, “Wayland” continues the story of the couple introduced in “Hiding Ezra.” Described as a suspenseful historical fiction novel, “Wayland” is set in Scott County in World War I and follows an older couple and their niece, whom they’re raising.
“Life is good (for the family), but the economy has already fallen apart, so these hobos are starting to show up here in Scott County; there were quite a few of them. … So one of these hobos shows up and asks for work from them, and they — very good, kindhearted people — take him in,” Quillen said of the book. “But unbeknownst to them, he is a truly evil, scary man. The book is about them figuring that out and what to do about it before he does something really horrible.”
The book is available for purchase at I Love Books and online via Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
“You can read ‘Wayland’ and it’ll stand alone; I’ve told you enough that you can follow the story,” Quillen said. “I do think people would definitely enjoy reading ‘Hiding Ezra’ first, just because you know so much more about the characters.”
When it comes to writing future novels, Quillen said she doesn’t have any ideas in mind, but she is preparing to release a new collection of poetry next year.
“I don’t have another novel in the hopper right now, but you never know,” Quillen said. “It could happen.”
To learn more about Quillen, visit her website at www.ritasimsquillen.com.