Writing by the river

February 1, 2009

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


Valerie Dodson appreciates the restorative and stirring power of moving water. The author, Mississippi University for Women alumna and Genesis Press production manager often finds inspiration quietly sitting on a bench at the Riverwalk, the scenic riverside walking trail bordering the west end of Columbus'' Main Street. 


"I do a lot of my writing there. I wait for the water to bring me new ideas," she says in a warm, lilting voice. "I wait for new thoughts that come right up off the river and into my head. It''s my favorite spot." 


Writing under the pseudonym Carrie Elizabeth Greene -- her late grandmother''s name -- Dodson penned her first novel, "A Voice Behind Thunder." It was released by the Columbus-based Genesis Press and is available at Wal-Mart and Books-A-Million.  


The publisher invites the public to a book release party Thursday, Feb. 5, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Barrister''s House Bed and Breakfast, 406 Third Ave. N. 




A heady mix  


"A Voice Behind Thunder" is described as a heady mix of crime, romance and spirituality set in Dodson''s native New York in the late 1970s, when disco was king and crack cocaine was a new and relatively unknown threat. 


"New York was the frontier for every social movement that happened in our country in the 20th century," said Dodson. "In the late ''70s, a new form of cocaine called crack would emerge, and our social fabric would be torn like never before." 


Dodson''s novel revolves around two people -- one a narcotics agent -- dealing with the advent of the emerging drug. "The story is about how they meet the person who really invents the process (of producing crack) and how this man infiltrates their lives," she explained. "It causes them to look at themselves and their devotion to the Lord and each other, to examine their values and principles." 


Writing is a lifelong love for Dodson, who is also an ordained minister. "A Voice Behind Thunder" gave her the opportunity to pursue both of her passions. 


"I''ve always loved a good story, whether it was fiction, romance or sci-fi," she shared. "Every day after school my friends and I would make up stories about love and romance. Now that I''m an adult, some of those stories have become a reality that I wanted to share with other people." 


The mother of two grown children has lived in Columbus for the past 21 years. She first arrived in town working with attorney Wilbur Colom and went on to earn an accounting degree at Mississippi University for Women. 


"I consider Columbus my home. When I go to New York, I want to leave and come back here," she laughed.  


"I think Columbus is blessed with a spirit of writers. This is the (birth) home of Tennessee Williams, and Eudora Welty and many others came out of Columbus. I think it''s an ideal place for a writer -- there''s quiet and it''s peaceful. You can just sit ... and write." 


Although Dodson wrote her novel under a pseudonym, she also has a non-fiction book on the way published under her own name. "Don''t Delay Your Increase" is slated for release in December 2009 by Urban Christian Fiction.

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.