Congratulations to former Centrum Resident Elizabeth Evans on the recent publication of her new novel “As Good As Dead” scheduled for publication March 3, 2015 by Bloomsbury Books.
I have had the wonderful experience of staying at a Centrum cabin on three occasions. The first time would have been back in the early ’90’s, in the days when the artist could bring along his/her family (I was there, writing, with my two daughters and my husband). I returned to Centrum in, I believe, 2009 (January), and then 2012 (maybe the very end of April and first part of May). That last stay was spent in the same cabin that my family and I had stayed in on my first trip, and that was fun!
“As Good as Dead” is set at the highly competitive Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where small-town Charlotte is thrilled and confounded by charismatic and sophisticated Esmé. One moment Esmé is Charlotte’s best friend; the next, Esmé shuns her. After a tumultuous weekend, Charlotte’s insecurities and her resentment toward Esmé’s bewildering behavior reach a fever pitch. Charlotte betrays Esmé, unwittingly unleashing a cascade of future calamities.
Twenty years later, Charlotte is a successful novelist, enjoying a quiet life with her beloved husband. When a much-changed Esmé shows up on her doorstep, Charlotte must revisit the past she grieved over, and believed buried. Though Charlotte yearns to redeem the old friendship and her transgression, she is wary, and rightly so. Esmé makes no mention of Charlotte’s old betrayal, but her dinner invitation leads to a “request” that forces Charlotte to make an agonizing decision.
Some of my most precious memories are of my days writing at Centrum, brought to perfect jittery pitch by longs walks in wind and rain amid giant trees green with moss—looking up to see an owl on a branch just over my head, and seven deer magically materialize in the meadow. Who knows what they’re up to, the Golden-crowned Kinglets, but they feel like a blessing, tumbling alongside my boots as I walk the paths of the Fort. Surely the place is some kind of heaven.
Evans is Professor Emeritus for the Program in Creative Writing at the University of Arizona, and frequently teaches for Queens University of Charlotte’s Low-residence MFA Program in Creative Writing. She makes her home in Tucson, Arizona.
She is the recipient of the Iowa Author Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the James Michener Fellowship, and a Lila Wallace Award. Evans has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the International Retreat for Writers at Hawthornden Castle, Wurlitzer, and other foundations.