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Gerald Duff discusses Fire Ants and fiction at South Carolina Book Festival

NewSouth author Gerald Duff recently traveled to Columbia, South Carolina to discuss his collection of short stories Fire Ants and Other Stories at the fourteenth annual South Carolina Book Festival. Held at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center on February 27-28, Duff was one of many authors participating in the festival, appearing on two panels and participating in a “Brunch with the Authors” event.

One panel, entitled “Book Club Picks,” saw Duff joined with novelist Dale Neal and scholar and wine writer David Shields. Among other topics, Duff and the panelists discussed the question of how authors research background for their work and how conscious of the need to be true to facts a writer of fiction must be. “We all agreed,” Duff said, “that, though admirable in themselves, facts must never stand in the way of the story. Where you need to lie about facts, you must do such in the service of a larger truth.”

The second panel,”Beyond the Novel,” concerned the differences in form between drama, poetry, and prose fiction. Duff quoted the statement from William Faulkner that every short story writer is a failed poet and that every novelist is a failed short story writer. Duff said, “All three of us on the panel—a dramatist, a poet, and a short story writer—deferred to Mr. Faulkner.”

This is the fourteenth year for the South Carolina Book Festival, which generally draws crowds of nearly 5,000 book lovers, and Duff noted the strength of this year’s programming. “The crowds at all sessions were large, lively, and literary,” he said, “and I left the South Carolina Book Festival energized about the reading and writing of fiction.”

Read more about the festival at the Free Times.

Duff’s next appearance is in April at the Wisconsin Book Festival where he’ll also read and comment upon Fire Ants.

Fire Ants is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online retailer.