Journalism vs. Fiction

Journalism vs. Fiction June 29, 2013

So you may have heard by now that I have a novel coming out in September. It’s my sixth book and my first work of fiction.

I’d be lying if I said I’m not nervous about it. You’d be scared, too, if  you were me. Writing fiction is a totally different process than the journalism-based work I’m used to doing.

Journalism is exacting.

Fiction is imagining.


Journalism is fenced in.

Fiction is wide-open space.


Journalism demands the truth.

Fiction seeks universal truths.


Journalism thrives through accountability.

Fiction throws caution to the wind.


I will tell you that early reviews have been generous. Of course, I adhere to the advice a writing coach once gave me: Ignore all flattery and all criticisms and just keep writing.

I will be traveling to Europe in July, conducting research for a sequel to Mother of Rain. That is the one thing I learned that journalists and fiction-writers have in common — the need to learn stuff we don’t already know.

Write what you know may be the worst writing advice anyone ever penned. If I only wrote what I knew, I would never write anything worth reading.

There is going to be a very special promotional giveaway during the month of September for the book’s release. I’ll tell you more about that in August. So stay tuned.

Meanwhile, enjoy the book trailer and help spread the word by posting it to your Twitter, or Facebook or blog. Tell your librarians and booksellers and book clubs about it.

And if you need some reinforcement, here’s the early praise for Mother of Rain:


Karen Spears Zacharias has carved a brilliant gem of a novel out of hard, uncompromising times and lives. Her remote mountain setting conceals misery, mystery, and madness — but also love, which comes in many forms. Zacharias examines these intertwined lives with great compassion and daring; she is a wonderful writer.

– Lee Smith, author of “Mrs. Darcy & the Blue-eyed Stranger” & “The Last Girls”


Karen Spears Zacharias captures the humor, spirituality and language of Appalachia with stunning authenticity, through characters that leap off the page. With Mother of Rain, Zacharias has done her part to help preserve our mountain heritage for future generations.

-Amy Greene, author of “Bloodroot”


Evocative depiction of the hills and hollows, the language, lore, and beliefs of rural Upper East Tennessee in the 40’s. Karen Spears Zacharias paints an affectionate picture of simple people struggling to cope with social problems that we haven’t managed to overcome in the 21st century. From the opening chapter, I was hooked.

-Lindy Riley,President of Friends of the Library, Greeneville, TN, Ph. D.


An evocative and haunting debut. The unforgettable story of Maizee Hurd is one of hardscrabble life in the mountains of East Tennessee—a world filled with the mystery of the “old ways,” where loss and tragedy are as commonplace as rain. With clarity and great compassion, Karen Spears Zacharias captures the fragility of the human heart. I could still hear the cadence of Appalachian voices long after I turned the last page.

-Todd Johnson, author of “The Sweet By and By”


The story of Maizee both shocks and endears the reader to Mother of Rain, the beautifully, eerie debut novel by Karen Spears Zacharias. Like a handcrafted wedding quilt, Zacharias’s prose weaves the tangle of hardscrabble lives into old fashion Appalachia storytelling.

-Ann Hite, author of award winning “Ghost On Black Mountain”


With her debut novel, Mother of Rain. Zacharias perfectly captures the haunting beauty and customs of Depression era Appalachia. Mother of Rain  is an unflinching and compelling story of troubled love and redemption in a mystical time and place. Maize is one of those magical characters that readers will be thinking about long after the last page has been turned.

– Michael Morris, author of “Man in the Blue Moon” and “Slow Way Home.”




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