Pee Dee Profile Landon Houle

Author Landon Houle, an assistant professor of English at Francis Marion University, drew inspiration for her first novel from small-town life.

FLORENCE, S.C.

Inspired by small-town life in the Pee Dee, Landon Houle has published her first novel, “Living Things.”

The novel focuses on the fictional town of Black Creek, which is inspired by things she’s seen since she’s been living in the Pee Dee.

“Well, I think when I write, I always try to take from the world around me,” Houle said. “I’m always sort of inspired by the world around me. I think that’s sort of how I make sense of things.”

The novel, Houle said, is a coming-of-age story for the protagonist and the town of Black Creek.

Houle, an assistant professor of English at Francis Marion University, won the Red Hen Fiction Contest for “Living Things,” which awarded her novel publication.

“Living Things” took nearly two years to write and edit, Houle said.

She had a draft copy of the novel ready around the holidays last year, and while she was driving to Texas, where she is from, her husband, Adam, helped her edit the novel.

He read the novel aloud while she drove, and she would stop him to make notes for revision. When Houle came back to South Carolina, she made the revisions from the car ride to Texas and began sending her novel out to contests.

“I thought, ‘Let me just see what happens,’ and I won,” she said. “I was really sort of lucky and fortunate in that way that I found a reader who was ready to read that story, and they gave me that boost.”

“Living Things” was published this month.

“For a lot of years now, I’ve been kind of looking at stories on the pages, like typed from the computer, and so it’s amazing to be able to sort of even get in front of people and read from your actual book rather than just, you know, your printouts, so that’s really cool,” Houle said.

She said she is still learning about the publication process for “Living Things.”

“In the writing process, I think there are infinite lessons,” Houle said. “One of the things I think is probably most valuable is just sort of trusting it. There’s a lot of doubt involved in writing.”

Though this is the first novel Houle has written, she has written several short stories. Houle’s work has been included in several publications, including New Guard Literary Review, Crazyhorse Fiction Southeast and The Baltimore Review.

Houle is planning book readings for “Living Things.” The dates and times for the readings are to be announced.

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