Island author finds an audience for her ‘Mountain Women’ series
She also wrote a novella, which is a prequel to the series. In addition to her series, she’s also written a romantic suspense, as well as a science fiction novel.
“I remember when I was maybe 8 years old,” said Ervin, “I just read a book that I really liked and I wanted to sit down and write a story.”
Having been a reader her whole life encouraged her to get a master’s degree and also to teach English, Ervin said. After retiring, she was finally able to set some time to write fiction.
“I needed to learn to write fiction, so I participated for a number of years in the online group, critiquecircle.com,” said Ervin. “It’s an international group of people who write in many genres and who post chapters to have other people comment and critique.”
Ervin describes having been a part of this group as a great learning experience, both in reading other people’s work and in getting reactions to her own writing work. After years of becoming seasoned in this group, Ervin says, she was finally able to publish the first book of her series, “The Girl on the Mountain,” in 2012.
Although she’s written other books, the real audience for her seems to be for her series, which is not surprising, since she is so fond of the fictional characters about whom she writes. As the series has grown, like most writers, Ervin has found her groove, admitting that although the first book took several years, the rest came much faster.
“For the series, I pretty much have the setting already,” said Ervin. “I have a continuing cast of characters. All I had to do was think up new stories for them. My kind of historical fiction is not based on real people. Essentially it’s about West Virginia culture of the time. Even the town in my series is a fictional town. It’s really a composite of a number of towns that I’m familiar with.”
As many of Ervin’s readers are from West Virginia, she often hears them say they remember stories from their parents and grandparents that help them identify closely with her books. One reader in particular, she says, insists the fictional town in the series is her hometown.
“Because of things like this I know I’ve got some authenticity there,” said Ervin. “I didn’t want to get into the history of an actual town, because that wasn’t my primary interest. It’s more about the events, such as World War I, or Spanish flu, or women getting the vote, and family problems among the characters that are interesting to me.”
Ervin admits she has a genuine admiration for her characters, who she describes as less than perfect, which, she says, is realistically part of their appeal to readers.
“People will finish one book and then they’ll send me notes and say ‘OK, I’m ready for the next one.’ That kind of keeps the pressure on,” said Ervin. “But eventually I’m going to have to end this series.”
Although being an 81-year-old successful writer makes Ervin feel proud of herself, she says, it does come with some limitations, however, the characters in her books persist, she says.
“They’re really probably based on the many people that I knew in West Virginia, where I lived for about 50 years in a rural farming community,” said Ervin. “These people were really an inspiration to me.”
Ervin’s books are available online.