Posted by: janesstories | September 1, 2009

Guest Blogger: Karen Salyer McElmurray, Author of The Motel of the Stars

“Memoir,” as writer Patrica Hampl says, “seeks a permanent home for feeling and image, a habitation where they can live together.”  I wrote a memoir, one about finding my son, surrendered to adoption over thirty years ago, and I without a doubt sought feeling, sought expression via imagery of a loss I had not yet explored.  Writing that memoir took me to a center in myself and thus, I believe, to a crossroads with what I want from writing itseslf.  When I turned again to fiction writing in the form of a new novel, I’ve discovered truer characters, places, scenes.  Fiction and nonfiction, for me, must both drink from the Twin Rivers of joy and of sorrow, and that is truth I must keep discovering.  What I’m interested in more and more is a kind writing that reaches beyond the strict definitions of genre–novel, short story, poem, memoir.  As Hampl says, I want habitation–a place where the center and its translation, regardless of form–is the thing that counts.”

Karen Salyer McElmurray, Assistant Professor of English at Georgia College and State University, teaches Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Prose Form & Theory, and other creative writing courses. She advises The Peacock’s Feet, the student undergraduate magazine, and is Creative Nonfiction Editor for Arts and Letters.  Her newest novel, The Motel of the Stars, is a tour de force of imagination, moving her characters  from the mountains of Nepal to the Sedona desert, to the sacred space of Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina, without a whiff of vertigo, but with a great deal of thoughtful exploration about what happens when we let loss determine our path. Her work is brave and divinatory. Order it, or ask your local library to buy a copy.


  1. Karen,

    Your line which caught my attention is : “…I without a doubt sought feeling, sought expression via imagery of a loss I had not yet explored. ”

    I recently got out of bed (I wasn’t sleeping anyway) to write a passage for my memoir. The incident, seemingly benign, had me typing with tears swamping my keyboard the whole time. Who would have thought that I could still cry so deeply over missing a ski trip 34 years ago?

    Hopefully, I will be able to remember how to capture that emotion when I write fiction.

    Thank you for posting!

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