The Wild Man of Cataloochee
Civil War Letters 5

Appalachian Writers

Peggy Poe Stern

I'd like to introduce you to Peggy Poe Stern-have you ever heard of her? I've only known her a few months-I believe she may be one of the best kept secrets of Western NC.

I stumbled onto Peggy's website one day-and once I realized she was an Appalachian Writer I began to click around-all of my clicking landed me on an excerpt from one of her books. I could not stop reading it-and when I reached the end-I knew I had to have the book to see what happened to Laine and her lazy sister and Mother.

This week-I had the opportunity to interview Peggy Poe Stern.

Are you a native of Appalachia?

Yes. I was born and raised in Ashe County North Carolina at the end of Sugar Tree road. Although I have traveled on business, I’ve never lived or wanted to live anywhere other than our beloved mountains. 

Did you always want to be a writer? If so did you write as a child and throughout your life?

As a child, I had three dreams. I wanted to be a doctor, lawyer, or a writer. Being there was never money for college, my dream of great writer took over and I’m still dreaming and working at it diligently.  I was born loving stories. I spent treasured hours listening to the old folks telling me stories about their lives. I tried to write as a child - and spent 38 years of my life working and raising six children while scribbling and dreaming of having time to really write. Six years ago, I stopped working and focused on my dream of writing. It’s as though there is a specific book I’m supposed to write and no matter how many books I have written, it’s not that specific book. Therefore, I must trudge onward.

I know you write about Appalachia-is there any other subjects you write about? Non-fiction?

My genre would be considered general fiction; although, each book may contain mystery, suspense, murder, and romance. My main love is writing about Appalachia and her people. I’m also fascinated with the human spirit and reincarnation. I have a book titled: “Hunting the Haunted”, about local haunted places and ghost stories. “Dream Lover” came about due to Dr. Ian Stevenson’s book about his research on cases suggestive of reincarnation. Two of my non-fiction books are about mountain speech and the moon and zodiac signs.

Why do you write about Appalachia?

That answer is easy. Not only are the Appalachian Mountains my home, but I love their ruggedness and their endurance. I also find the tough, vigorous, hard-working natives of this unforgiving land fascinating. 

Do you think it's important to write about Appalachia?

Yes, I believe it is always important for writers to write about their homes and the places they love. There has been a lot of discrimination about the Appalachia and her people, not to mention a never-ending supply of jokes. The jokes don’t bother me in the least. I actually enjoy them and sometimes encourage them. What does bother me is that people may never be able to personally experience the endurance, life, times, and beauty that I have been blessed with. Therefore, another reason for my writing.

Where does your inspiration/idea come from?

My goodness, I have no problem with ideas or inspiration. They bombard me from all directions, insisting on being written. I tell people that feeling the wind blow gives me another idea for a book. It’s as though a dozen different muses hound me all the blessed time.

The 2 books of yours I read are full of turmoil and fast paced. Why do you choose to write about the "hard" part of life?

I’ve read and enjoyed a lot of books glorifying life without ever dwelling on hardships. However, I wanted to avoid idealism and show life close to reality. The first book I wrote, based on the old mountain saying that a man owns his land “Heaven High and Hell Deep” came about because I wanted readers to know what it was like to be a woman in the early 1900s. I tried to portray life, love, and hardships as closely as they had been portrayed to me. "Tamarack" came about because of my fierce hatred of child abuse. It is roughly based on a true story in which the local sheriff, and many others, helped me with the research. I was hoping readers would not only feel the hopelessness of the victims, but solutions as well. I might add that not all my stories focus on the hardships of life, but the ability to overcome them. 

Do you have a favorite place to write? Do you use pen and paper or a keyboard? Do you write every day?

I write in a little corner of my bedroom where I see nothing but a wall, hoping not to get distracted. Most everything interests me - and sitting is not my favorite occupation. I use a laptop computer because it is faster than pen and paper, plus I’m not good at spelling and spell-check helps. My favorite time to write is early of a morning when I’m fresh and haven’t been distracted. If there is a day when I’m not actually writing, I’m thinking about it. I also devote a couple of hours before bedtime to study writing, techniques, and stories by other writers. I’m always trying to improve, but often feel I go backward.

I read you work on more than one book at a time-could you explain this process a little?

As I mentioned before, stories bombard me. I give in and start writing a lot of them. I have as many as 7 or 8 books in the making at one time. Two of them will prove dominating, and I will finish them first and second. Multiple stories also eliminate my writer’s block. One of the stories will always come. Once, this proved disastrous. My hard drive went and couldn’t be recovered. I lost about two years of work – including the entire book of “Joppa”. I rewrote “Joppa” but feel that it lost some of its original vitality. I now call “Joppa” the lost book.

How many books have you published?

I have just finished book 17. It should be in print in two weeks. Only 5 of the 8 books I’m now working on are pushing me hard. I can only write two or three books a year without giving up animals, farming, gardening, canning, and taking care of grandchildren and great grandchildren. Thank goodness I have a husband that’s willing to help me out.

Where can folks find them-buy them?

There are a few stores that carry the books. A list of stores can be found on the web site I fear that I have spent all my time on writing and very little on marketing. I try to encourage readers to order directly from me as it enables me to know the readers, and their likes and dislikes. My address, email, and phone number are on my web site. I always welcome their comments and phone calls. Readers make writing possible

Hope you enjoyed my interview with Peggy Poe Stern. I've read 2 of her books-I read each book the day I got it- I could not put them down. If you like  books that pull you in from the first sentence-if you like books that are fast paced and full of angst-then Peggy's books are for you. Peggy's style of writing brings to mind 2 recent best sellers-Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones and Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner. After I read Tamarack-I told Peggy I have one question-"why are you not at the top of the New York Times best sellers list?"

In an effort to help spread the word about Peggy Poe Stern-I'm going to give away a copy of her Heaven High and Hell Deep book. To be entered in the giveaway all you have to do is jump over to her site; read the excerpt from the book; come back here and leave me a comment telling me what happens to Laine's little brother, Joey.


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Tammy-I'm sorry but the Peggy Poe Stern book giveaway has ended-however you can jump over to her website at and enter a book giveaway she's having-you can also read part of her most recent book.

Blind Pig The Acorn

Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk

All at

I loved this book cause I checked it out at the library and would love to win it and own my own copy so I can reread it again. My heart ached for poor Laine with what she endured. Her little brother Joey was strung by honey bees all over his faces, hands etc...cause Susie wasn't watching him like she should have.His poor little face swole so from the poison of the bees he couldn't breath. Laine tried so hard to breath for him but to no avail.He was dead by the time Laines dad got the doc there.

I finally read your interview with Peggy, Tipper, and finally met Peggy last Saturday. She is a delight and a great writer.
Watch my site for more on Peggy Poe Stern this week.

Joey was stung by hundreds of bees and then died. You are so right, I was just completely drawn in to the story. A new writer is on my list!

Wow. I couldn't stop reading and now have to get that book. Poor little Joey died after being stung by hundreds of bee's. I feel so bad for Laine and just want to slap her mother and sister. They are "fragile" so Laine has become the worker bee and the strong one of the family. Awesome story. Thanks so much for introducing us to Peggy.


What an awesome story. Joey was stung by hundreds of bees and subsequently died. I felt sorry for poor Laine, as she not only lost her brother but had been badly stung while helping him. I really HAVE to read the rest of this book. Thanks for introducing me to this new author. This kind of a story is right up my alley.


hello I adore your website, have been reading it for about four months.. thank you for showing us about peggy poe stern, and her writings.. the beginning of the book is wonderful and now I need to find out how the story ends..
thank you for giving us a chance to win the book..
while in the honey gum, little joey got stung by the bees, and laine had to run and try to save him by getting him away from the bees and into the water.. unfortunately ,, he was stung too many times by the bees and died
even if I dont win,, your website in itself is like a gift.. with all the stories and music you share.. thanks so very much
lynn legge

Great interview, Tipper. She sounds like a really interesting woman. It is amazing that she can work more than book at a time and never being without another book to write!! I'm sure all writers envy that.

Like you I wonder why she is not on the best seller list.

I couldn't stop until I'd read all of it! I'm hooked. I hope I get the book.

Joey was killed by too many bee stings - the author tells it much better than my short sentence. :)

Joey died from bee stings. Loved the first 3 chapters at her site. Must have her book!!! Thank you Tipper for the contest and the best site around.

I would love to win that book!!
Joey died from bee stings.

he wasstung by the bees and died from all of the bee stings

Thanks for the heads up. My daughter loves to read and she writes also. I will have to share this with her.
I just grabbed your dandelion. I love it.

Thank you very much for introducing us to the work of Peggy Poe Stern. I had never heard of her until I read you excellent interview of her. I sure will check out her work. Sounds like the kind of books I will enjoy very much.

Peggy's enthusiasm and passion for writing are fantastic! Wish I could find such devotion.

My ONE book on our family history (The Matheson Cove- In the Shadow of the Devil's Post Office)kind of felt like my ONE AND ONLY BOOK! Maybe my inspiration will return!

Eva Nell Mull Wike, Clay County, NC

Joey was stung to death by honeybees. So Sad!
I can't wait to read the rest of the story!!

Little Joey was stung by bees, soooo many all over his head, face and in his clothes. Just reading the beginning of this book has me totally intrigued! I really enjoyed your interview with her too.

Peggy is a born writer. I am a writer by accedent.Having grown up in the mountains of Western North Carolina I understand what Peggy is writing about. I have lived a part of what she writes in her first book.
Little Joey didn't have a chance to recover from all the bee stings he had.

A wonderful interview, Tipper. Thank you so much for introducing her to me! I'll be looking for her books.

Tipper, great interview with Peggy. She sounds like a real Appalachian treasure. Thanks for introducing her to us. I'll check out her blog.
Stay warm.

I love to read, so I'll check out her books.They sound interesting. It's so helpful that I can read with one eye and watch T V with the other.

Little Joey got into a bee gum and was stung to death. I gather he was a curious little fella, like most boys are. And I figure he had been told many times to not get near those bees but his curiosity got the best of him and, like most little fellas, when told not to do something, he had to find out why he wasnt' suppose to do it.
I enjoyed the excerpt, looking forward to readint the rest of it.

That is Peggy Poe Stern in the photo. Thanks for the comment Nana!

Blind Pig The Acorn

Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk

All at

Joey was stung to death by honeybees. Her books sound interesting to me. Who is that in the picture with the deer.


He was stung by honeybees and died....only three years old..sad..
I am going to find and read her books....many stories must be based in the mountain traditions....

Joey died rom all the bee stings from the honey gum while mother and sister screamed and cried and did nothing .
loved peggy's writing and read the 3 chapters and now I'll have to order the book . thanks for the link . Malcolm from Thailand

Enjoyed the interview, enlightening, Thanks!

Peggy writing sounds very interesting - perhaps I'll read one once I finish my "required" readings. :)

Goodness. I'm enthralled. I just read Cold Sassy Tree and am ready for another Southern story. Poor baby was killed by too many bee stings. I hope Laine gets through this.

Joey was stung by so many bees it killed him. This lady is a very good writer and she holds you spellbound with her stories.

I read The Lovely Bones a few years ago, was given to me by a good friend. I have discovered some of the best reads are suggested to me by friends, so I know this will be a good read too...Do you know the IBNS number on her book, I can order it through or a local store...

Hi Tipper, I went over and read the excerpt. Little Joey died of bee stings. Loved to be entered into the drawing for the book.

Tipper: Great photo and story, I thought that was you with curly hair. I will have to check on her at a later time.

Sweet blonde little Joey was left unattended by his sister Susie, and he wandered too close to the bee gum and died from the stings. I think that's called anaphalactic shock. The swelling closed off his air supply and he chocked to death.

I'm anxious to see which of the two men Laine ends up with.

So nice to find you this morning. I will have to check her writings out. You have an interesting site and I will have to return to enjoy more.
I did not see where I could join.
Thanks for this post

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