This week, I had the opportunity to interview Beth Durham, author of Replacing Ann and the blog Tennessee Mountain Stories. A native of Fentress County, she now lives in Chattanooga, but continues to blog about the stories and traditions of her home on the Cumberland Plateau.
Her first novel, a historical Christian fiction book called Replacing Ann, was the beginning of her career. But when her publisher suggested she try blogging as a means of promoting her work, the blog took off and became an instant hit with the Cumberland community.
“I’ll get all this feedback about my stories, and people will say ‘Oh! I know who you’re writing about in this post!’ And that’s the beauty of it, sometimes people can recognize what I’m blogging about because it’s real. It’s a piece of history. It’s sentimental.”
Her stories range from family legends that she grew up hearing, to informational reports on daily life, clothing, food, or family practices in years past.
Of course, her favorite blog posts are the true stories that come from her family historyl
It’s a way for her to preserve her family’s legacy. It’s a history lesson, but instead of recording the major events that were happening at the time, Beth gives her readers a glimpse into what life was like for the average Appalachian family in years past. And because truth is often stranger than fiction, her stories are wildly entertaining. “A bunch of family gets together and they share that story that they’ve shared a thousand times, and I think ‘People would enjoy that!'” she says.
She also shares old recipes. Of course, the food is my favorite part of the blog! Some of the recipes are familiar – everyone knows cornbread is a classic Southern staple, and we’ve all heard of chicken and dumplings (at least I assume so – that’s a thing up north too, right?). But others, like molassey bread, tater cakes and fried squash are not quite so common.
I love reading her blog, because it’s full of history and tradition and old family legends – all things I’m passionate about. Her stories bring the past to life, and I’m taken back to the post-Civil War South, the Great Depression era, the golden 1950’s, and everything in between. Life was very different in rural Tennessee during these times, and it wasn’t always like what we see in movies. It’s so interesting to see what life was like in my hometown a hundred years ago.
I hope you’ll check out her blog – you can do so by clicking here – and maybe try some of the recipes, too! 😉
If you would like to download a FREE (and yes I did say free, I’ve already downloaded it because I am all about that free stuff) e-book version of Replacing Ann, click here!
All pictures used courtesy of Beth Durham from the Tennessee Mountain Stories blog.