Participation Type


Session Title

TELLING THE DARK STORIES: Authors Read from and Discuss how they Crafted their Work on Opioids in Appalachia

Session Abstract or Summary

Advice, solidarity, and a deep dive into what's happening to us are the offerings of this panel to other writers, social workers, and advocates. Many people have told Appalachia’s stories, but not always from within. Yet Appalachia is rife with writers; what are the challenges of telling the difficult internal story of Opioids in the region? When does an individual's narrative stop being about one family and become the story of the region? What responsibilities do we as authors bear? How does fiction foment discussion? Can artists move boldly into territory where academics and medicine must step lightly?

In answer, four authors come together to share not only their writings, but their challenges and concerns in the writing. Deborah Gold tells her story of guardianship and advocacy in a family challenged by trauma and addiction; Wendy Welch discusses the ethics and responsibilities of presenting other people’s stories in Opioid-driven foster care; Michael Henson describes how fiction can open the doors to talk about love, despair, death, hope, and life during and after drugs. Discussant Marianna Linz leads panelists and participants in looking at how the juxtaposition of creativity, wordsmithing, chutzpah, hard facts and access to informants craft the individual stories that make up the big picture of opioid issues in Appalachia.

Presentation #1 Title

The individual readings are not separately titled

Presentation #1 Abstract or Summary

There are not individual abstracts for this panel. If you would prefer to call it a performance or reading we're fine with that.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #1

Wendy Welch will read from her work of narrative journalism, FALL OR FLY: The Strangely Hopeful Story of Adoption and Foster Care in Coalfields Appalachia (Ohio University Press, December 2017). Her previous books are Public Health in Appalachia (McFarland) and the memoir The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap (St. Martin’s). Winner of Managing Editor’s Choice Awards for feature journalism while a reporter in Knoxville, Welch now directs the Graduate Medical Education Consortium of SWVA, specializing in cultural competency issues for medical professionals. She owns a bookstore that hosts arts and advocacy events.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #2

Deborah Gold will read from her new memoir COUNTING DOWN: A MEMOIR OF FOSTER PARENTING AND BEYOND (Ohio University Press, January 2018). Gold has used her experiences as a longtime foster parent and guardian to lead memoir and life-writing workshops at state and national-level conferences. A teacher and writer, she uses a pseudonym for privacy considerations.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #3

Michael Henson will read from MAGGIE BOYLAN (Swallow Press, March 2018). This collection of linked stories describes nine months in the life of an OxyContin addict, her addiction’s impact on family and community, her spiral into overdose, and beginning a shaky recovery. The stories are based on the author's work as a community organizer and substance abuse counselor. His most recent work is THE DEAD SINGING: POEMS from Mongrel Empire Press. Henson co-edits Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel and writes extensively on substance abuse, poverty, and addiction.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #4

CONVENOR Marianna Linz will lead the audience Q&A about the process of writing and the subject matter, interjecting her observations as Chair of Psychology at Marshall University. Linz writes technically on matters of psychology and human interaction.

Conference Subthemes

Economic Development, Education, Health

This document is currently not available here.



The individual readings are not separately titled

There are not individual abstracts for this panel. If you would prefer to call it a performance or reading we're fine with that.