Sunday’s column: Novelist Karen Osborn returns to Hollins for Roanoke Regional Writers Conference (updated)
Massachusetts novelist Karen Osborn will return to Hollins University this month for the first time since her 1979 graduation as the 2013 Louis D. Rubin Jr. Writer-in-Residence, and to talk about the state of the publishing industry at this year’s Roanoke Regional Writers Conference, which starts Friday on the Hollins campus.
Osborn lived in Roanoke’s Old Southwest neighborhood while she worked toward her degree in English, and began having poems published while a Hollins College undergrad.
She said she’s very excited about coming back to campus. “I love it there and they have such a great community of writers.” During her residency, she hopes to start a new novel. “I have some ideas,” she said.
She began working on her first novel, “Patchwork,” after she had finished graduate school at the University of Arkansas. The book, chronicling decades in the lives of three sisters, was inspired by research she conducted in a South Carolina textile town near Clemson University, where she was teaching. The textile mill industry was mostly a memory at that point, but through interviews, she learned how a mill town functioned.
The New York Times named “Patchwork” a Notable Book of the Year in 1991.
Her latest novel, “Centerville,” published through West Virginia University Press, is her first that springs from one of her own childhood memories, she said.