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Clint McCown, a Fayetteville native and author, recently received the Midwest Book Award for literary fiction for his novel “Haints”.
McCown’s book was chosen for the honor by the Midwest Independent Publishers Association, a consortium of over 200 publishers and presses in a twelve-state area.
Additionally, he has published three previous novels and four collections of poems, and his short stories, essays, and plays have appeared widely.
Twice winner of the American Fiction Prize, he has also received the Germaine Breé Book Award, the S. Mariella Gable Prize, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great Writers designation, an academy of American Poets Prize, and a Distinction in Literature citation from the Wisconsin Library Association.
He is a past editor of Indiana Review and the founding editor of the Beloit Fiction Journal. McCown has worked as both a screenwriter for Warner Bros. And a creative consultant for HBO television, and he was once a principal actor with the National Shakespeare Company.
As a journalist, he received the Associated Press Award for Documentary Excellence for his investigations of organized crime.
McCown teaches in the MFA program in creative writing at Virginia Commonwealth University, as well as in the Vermont College of Fine Arts low-residency MFA program. He lives on a horse farm with his wife, Dawn Cooper.
“… this novel of mine, Haints, is set in the imaginary town of Lincoln, which is a thinly veiled version of Fayetteville. It’s set in 1952 when the big tornado hit town on Leap Year Day,” stated McCown. “The event had always fascinated me, partly because the only fatality in the storm was a McCown, and partly because that was the week I was born,” he continued.
He notes that none of the characters in the novel are real people, but he used a number of local names. “I try to write with a sense of warmth and understanding toward my characters, and to help me with that, I use names from my own family or the names of close family friends,” he writes.
The author’s great-great-great-grandfather was Dr. Charles Clinton McKinney. One character in the novel is named Dr. Wallace McKinney. The name was a composite of two family members’ names. Wallace was his mother’s maiden name, Mary Jane Wallace.
“My father was James E. McCown, who left Fayetteville to become a Secret Service agent for President Eisenhower.”
“Haints evokes the inner ghosts that haunt each of us as we stumble forward through life, grappling with the multiple identities we foster within ourselves to help us cope,” McCown says.
McCown’s memorable characters strain to reconcile their public selves with their private selves, striving to resolve the tension between who they each want to be and who they truly are.