Debra Daniel was in the checkout line at the supermarket when a headline in one of the tabloid scandal sheets caught her eye: “Woman Commits Suicide in Dishwasher.”
This week, more than 20 years later, that’s the title of the Columbia author’s first novel, which is being launched with a party on Jan. 18.
The approach to the story is as unusual as the title. It opens with the central character, Myrtle Graham, dead in exactly the way the title describes. Where the novel goes from there is a series of eight interviews with people who knew Myrtle, a talentless tap dancer whose life and stage aspirations never quite worked out.
There is dark humor in some chapters and poignancy in others as the people tell a news reporter about Myrtle — and about secrets of their own lives as well.
Daniel, who retired in 2006 after teaching elementary school at Fort Jackson for 34 years, is best known in her writing for award-winning poetry. She was twice named a poetry fellow of the South Carolina Arts Commission. She has also published many short stories and, most recently, flash fiction — a relatively new genre of super-short stories, often online.
In fact, Woman Commits Suicide in Dishwasher was originally a short story when she started it two decades ago after that trip to the supermarket. She took it to a writers workshop and various writers conferences over the years, expanding and revising it and periodically looking unsuccessfully for a publisher.
“Every writer has to persevere — and be a fan of rejection,” Daniel says philosophically.
Then “five or six years ago, I got it out again,” she recalls. And Muddy Ford Press, a local boutique publishing house, signed her up. The next step is the book’s launch party from 3 to 5 p.m. on Jan. 18 at Tombo Grille in Forest Acres.
This won’t be the first time Daniel has been in the spotlight. In November 2012, she was on the TV quiz show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? She missed the $100,000 question but came home with $25,000.
That was a pretty good payday compared with music gigs. In retirement she has been singing, and playing mandolin and percussion in acoustic bands with her musician-husband, Jack McGregor. Actually, one of those performances got her on the TV show.
“We played at a nudist colony,” she says. And that’s the kind of offbeat thing that makes for good conversation with a quiz show host. Clothing was optional for the band, but “we were fine keeping our clothes on,” she says.
New literary journal: Fall Lines is a new journal based in Columba that will be published in June featuring poetry, essays, short fiction and flash fiction. The literary journal is being produced by Jasper magazine in partnership with the Richland Library, the University of South Carolina Press, Muddy Ford Press and One Columbia. Previously unpublished submissions can be entered until March 1. There is no fee to enter, and there are no residence requirements. Details are at jaspercolumbia.net.
3LAU on Sunday, October 26th and the Unofficial Skrillex Mothership Tour After-Party on the 27th. More information and tickets for both can be found here. VIP tables available.
King Lear in Finlay Park
October 16th-18th and 22nd-25th, the South Carolina Shakespeare Company presents William Shakespeare’s King Lear. All performances held at the Finlay Park Ampitheatre at 7:30 PM. For tickets and more information, click here or call 803-665-2000.
Four Miles, Twelve Doughnuts
Winston’s Wish aims to increase knowledge and understanding of children with autism, and you can help by participating in the 4.donut Race on October 25th. Start at Edventure Children’s Museum, run 2 miles to Krispy Kreme, eat 12 doughnuts, and run back! Registration is required and can be done here before October 23rd at 5 p.m.
Bluegrass, Bidding, and BBQ
Join The Palladium Society Thursday, October 23rd from 7-10 p.m. for its 11th annual silent auction, featuring music by The Mustache Brothers and catering by Bourbon and The Oak Table. Tickets are $30 at the door and include admission, drinks, and food. Get yours online now!
The Other Place at Trustus Theatre
Juliana Smithton is a successful neurologist whose life seems to be coming unhinged. A mystery unfolds as fact blurs with fiction, past collides with present and the elusive truth of Juliana’s mental health boils to the surface in The Other Place, running at Trustus Theatre October 17th through November 1st. There will be a talk-back following the matinee on October 19th. Tickets can be purchased here or by calling the box office at 803-254-9732.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Cupcake now hiring a closing manager. Must be outgoing, customer service focused, able to work evenings and weekends. Apply in person. 1213 Lincoln Street, Columbia SC 29201. freshcupcakes.com
Local business is searching for new associates who are looking for a fun environment to earn great wages. Great position for college students/recent graduates. Must be well-mannered with excellent customer service skills/work ethic/ability to lift heavy items/must have valid Driver’s License. Call 803-376-4884 or email resume: firstname.lastname@example.org.