About the Author
Joyce Blaylock, author of the new novel Adelicia, has been a friend of literature her entire life. She studied under the late James Dickey as as a graduate student at the University of South Carolina. Dickey became her mentor and friend, as did William Price Fox, who was writer-in-residence at Carolina then. While at USC, She played a major role with Fox, in the coordination and development of the university’s Spring Author Series in the early 1980s. Through this endeavor, she became acquainted with, and was befriended by, such notables as the late William Styron, Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut. George Garrett, Tom Wolfe, John Irving, and Nora Ephron. She remained close friends with both Joseph Heller and William Styron until they passed away.
While teaching in Cardiff, Wales, on a Fullbright Scholarship, ’94-’95, Blaylock brought British author Nigel Hinton to St. Cyres School in Cardiff, duplicating what she had implemented in the Nashville School System, a scaled down version of the author series at the University of South Carolina. She has maintained contact with Hinton, as well as Count Nikolai Tolstoi, author of The Coming of the King, since meeting him at an Arthurian Day celebration at the University of Cardiff. Blaylock was also on location with the filming of John Jakes’ North and South for five weeks in Charleston, St. Francisville, and Natchez and served a four-year term with the Tennessee Film Commission.
Serenity Gerbman of the Southern Festival of Books notes that “Joyce Blaylock has been a key supporter and volunteer for the Southern Festival of Books since its inception 24 years ago. Her knowledge of Southern literature and her dedication to the writing community have helped the Festival to become one of the foremost book events in the nation.
Blaylock was hospitality chairperson for Nashville’s Southern Festival of Books during its first ten years. Since that time she has worked with Humanities Tennessee on this extraordinary October Book Festival and is on the planning committee for its 25th Tennessee on this extraordinary October Book Festival and was on the planning committee for its 25th Anniversary in 2013. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Giles County Public Library. She enjoys raising funds to promote the love of the written word into the outlying country side where she owns a farm.
She first heard of the central character of her new novel, Adelicia, at age 16 when she and her teenage peers sat listening to the dean of her high school tell fascinating tales of the 19th century Nashvillian. Blaylock was intrigued by Adelicia’s ability to triumph despite the obstacles , her tackling of the unexpected with force, and her refusal to become a victim. Blaylock’s desire to tell Adelicia’s story has never wavered.
Joyce is a native of Nashville, TN where she currently lives with her husband, investment banker Steve Wood, two dogs, and one cat.
Adelicia is based on the tumultuous life of Adelicia Hayes Franklin Acklen Cheatham during the time period 1838-1867, and primarily set in Nashville and New Orleans, but including West Feliciana Parish, LA and Paris. Adelicia, is a clever and brilliant heroine of indomitable will, who with faith in herself and against all odds, all obstacles, breaks with tradition and triumphantly overcomes, accomplishing what she sets out to do. Although her encounters with grief, disfavor and adversity are of the deepest kind, she never surrenders to what Fate tosses her way, nor allows herself to become its victim.
After the death of her first husband, she is reportedly the wealthiest woman in 19th century America. With shrewd business acumen, Adelicia accumulates greater wealth and ultimately ships the last load of cotton to leave New Orleans’ wartime port. The cotton is mysteriously hauled from her Louisiana plantations on Union wagons pulled by Union mules, however, under Confederate guard. She takes payment in gold, and is wealthier after the Civil War than before.
Adelicia’s life is marked with moments of triumph such as when she succeeds in breaking her first husband’s will, when she manages to manipulate both Union and Confederate armies in order to preserve, then to smuggle her cotton crop to England, and when she is presented at the courts of both Queen victoria and of Napoleon III and is ultimately wooed by the Emperor.
To quote Dana Isaacson, February 24, 2014: “Readers will be eagerly turning the pages to discover what this larger than life woman will do next. With Adelicia, it’s pretty near impossible to guess…which keeps us riveted!”