“The inspiration for the book came from my husband’s family history,” Merrill said of husband Bill Davies. “In the early 80s they found a family history written by an aunt. The family had come from Wales in 1903. She wrote about their journey from Wales in the boat and coming to Ellis Island, then eventually settling in Eastern Kentucky.”
Merrill was so inspired by Ellen Davies’ handwritten history that for years she wrote, rewrote and put aside a novel whose central character was modeled after Ellen. After retiring from Armuchee High School where she taught for several years, Merrill revised the novel, polished it a bit and set about getting it published.
The result is “The Welsh Harp,” a story of a young girl, Gwen Thomas, who leaves her native Wales and sails to America. She convinces her mother to bring her grandfather’s large harp along so that one day she might learn to play it. But in Eastern Kentucky where coal mining is a way of life, Gwen finds that there are countless obstacles to overcome and her dream of being a harpist might be best put aside for more practical goals.
Merrill said the family’s struggle as immigrants is a universal theme, and readers will follow Gwen’s struggle to realize her dream of learning to play the harp. But larger themes also are woven into the novel — family, faith and the value of strong relationships.
Copies of “The Welsh Harp” retail for $12 and are available at Barnes and Noble Booksellers.
Merrill will join other authors for a book signing at Barnes and Noble on Saturday from 2-4 p.m.
One of those authors is Wayne Smith and his book “Waffle House Diaries” which recalls a 30-year career in enforcing federal drug laws — the good, the bad and the ugly as he calls it — of working for the Department of Justice. In the book, Smith recounts one occasion while on surveillance to arrest a group of smugglers offloading marijuana in the middle of a river and finds himself instead helping to rescue two men from a helicopter which had crashed into the river in the midst of heavy fog. When he is injured in a car crash, he soon finds that doctors in Berkeley refused to treat “pigs.” And on three different occasions he was forced to draw his gun to protect himself and those around him.
“Waffle House Diaries” is available online at barnesandnoble.com.
The group book signing takes place Sept. 22 from 2-4 p.m. at Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Riverbend Marketplace. Authors participating will include Mike Ragland, “Bertha,” Lonie B. Adcock, “Memories Of An Old Geezer,” Bryan Powell “Stranger in the Pulpit,” Mary Duncan, “Young Love and Tragedy,” Jenny Smith, “Seriously God?,” Ruth Baird Shaw, “Chronicles of Ruth,” and Gowanda McCray, “Sisters Just Love Strong.”
Authors will be signing copies of their books which will be on sale at the store during the event.