'Annamanda' to be Released
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., June 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ Annamanda is a story of determination, on two levels.
Annamanda, the novel by Jo Houser Haring published this month by the Southeast Missouri State University Press, tells of the determination and courage of a young woman married to a fundamentalist preacher as she and her family cope with the rigors and dangers of settling new territory about the time of the great New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-12.
But Annamanda also is a tale of the determination of Jo Haring's family to see that the book got published, 21 years after her death. It is her second published novelThe Founding Father was published in 1984, and thousands of copies were sold internationally. A collection of her humorous writings, Notes on the Refrigerator Door, was published shortly after her death in 1993.
Annamanda follows a young wife and her husband as they raise their family and survive encounters with wild animals, river ruffians and natural disturbances, especially the massive quakes which tumbled buildings and for a time caused the Mississippi River to run backward. The novel also describes the early frontier's differences over religious views.
The book has lots of action but also moments of humor and strong, fascinating characters. Among these is Eremus Lodi, an educated and wealthy early settler whose companion is a freed black man and healer named O'Reilly. A mysterious, terrifying Beast also haunts the settlers.
The book deals with the constant struggle between good and evil, as men like Annamanda's husband, Cyrus, confront frontier malcontents and evildoers, while Annamanda struggles with her own beliefs and inner demons. In Eremus Lodi, one can find this good/evil struggle embodied in one person.
Jo Haring began writing humorous pieces for The Associated Press. That led to her newspaper column, Pocketful of Wry, and, after she relocated to Tulsa in 1975, to novels. She completed Annamanda while coping with leukemia. But after her death from that disease her agent and potential publishers lost interest. To get it published was a struggle for Jo's husband, Bob, and son, Robert.
Robert salvaged a manuscript from his mother's effects after he returned from living for a dozen years in Tennessee. He distributed a few copies to family members and friends. Everybody who read it commented, "This book needs to be published."
But conventional publishers refuse manuscripts from dead authors. So the book languished until Bob heard about a university press that had successfully published a posthumous work by a woman. He found Southeast Missouri State University, a logical location since Annamanda takes place in that region. Publisher Susan Swartwout read it and pronounced: "I can't let this manuscript go."