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00:00:07 - Early life

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Partial Transcript: This is an oral history interview with Anne Shelby being conducted by Linda Beattie for the Kentucky Writers Oral History Project.

Segment Synopsis: Shelby provides an overview of her childhood spent in the Eastern Kentucky region.

Keywords: Berea College; Books; Children's books; Clay County (Ky.); Early life; Family; Farms; Golden records; Grandparents; Jackson County (Ky.); Letcher County (Ky.); Madison County (Ky.); Mckee (Ky.); Memories; Parents; Perry County (Ky.); Reunions; Sisters; Songbooks; Towns

Subjects: Childhood; Families.

00:07:17 - Music

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Partial Transcript: Will you discuss your experiences with and love for music as well as if and if so, how you think music may effect your writing?

Segment Synopsis: Shelby describes the role of music in her life, as well as the influence it plays upon her writing.

Keywords: Carter Family (Artist); Children's books; Dancing; Fathers; Form; Grandparents; Hymns; Limited; Lines; Listening; Paper; Pattern; Record players; Rhythm; Satisfaction; Singing; Sound; Space; Subjects; Syllables; Tennessee Ernie Ford (Artist); Themes; Verse

Subjects: Music; Records; Writing

00:12:21 - Religion / literature

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Partial Transcript: Uh, what religion did you grow up in?

Segment Synopsis: Shelby talks of the presence of religion and literature throughout her childhood.

Keywords: Baptist churches; Books; Clothing; Colleges; Dancing; English; Fathers; High school; Life; Manuscripts; Parents; Pictures; Poems; Professors; Stories; Suspicion; Television; World

Subjects: Agriculture; Childhood; Literature; Religion

00:15:33 - Education / jobs

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Partial Transcript: What about, uh, going to school?

Segment Synopsis: Shelby summarizes her early educational experience. Then, the occupations that Shelby's parents had are also mentioned. Additionally, the interviewee talks of reading in elementary school.

Keywords: Alice and Jerry; Authority; Books; Churches; Classrooms; Cumberland County (Ky.); Different; Dresses; Elementary schools; English; Fathers; Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; High schools; London (Ky.); Mckee (Ky.); Memories; Memorizing poetry; Mothers; Moving; Occupations; Old; Paul Revere; Poems; Reading; Reading out loud; School systems; Sixth grade (Education); Soil conservationists; Songbooks; Torture; Uninspired; Words

Subjects: Education; Employment--Kentucky; Teachers; Teaching

00:22:25 - High school and college

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Partial Transcript: I really don't, uh, you know, not until, uh, high school, because then were in London, which is a bigger town.

Segment Synopsis: Shelby relays her high school experience in detail, including her writing. Shelby also describes the differing experiences at the two colleges she attended (Kentucky Southern College and St. Andrews Presbyterian College).

Keywords: Assignments; Baptist churches; Boys; Careers; Classic literature; College; Decisions; Engineering; English; Feedback; Guidance; High schools; Influences; Kentucky Southern College; Language; London (Ky.); Majors; Math; Offices; Parents; Poems; Principals; Professors; Recruiters; Rural; Scholarships; Southern literature; St. Andrews Presbyterian College; Stories; Subjects; Teaching; Themes; University of Kentucky; Wade Hall

Subjects: Education; Education, Higher; Higher education; Teachers; Writing

00:30:44 - Life after college

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Partial Transcript: Still I didn't make any.

Segment Synopsis: Shelby recalls what her life was like after college: including her marriage and subsequent divorce, and then her second marriage a year later. Shelby's move from South Carolina to Kentucky during this time is also considered.

Keywords: Adult education; Appalachia; Charleston (S.C.); Colleges; Divorce; Emergency rooms; English; Family; Fort Bragg (N.C.); Governors; Grades; Graduation; Husbands; Interesting; Jobs; Journalism; Kentucky; Life; Morehead State University; Occupations; Offices; Parents; Plans; Raises; Remarriage; Secretary; Sentences; Sons; Surgical technicians; Tennessee; Typing; Work; Writers

Subjects: Employment; Families.; Marriage; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

00:37:31 - Life after second husband's graduation

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Partial Transcript: So, when he graduated, what happened with--were you still--did you remain working there, or did you both move elsewhere, or what happened?

Segment Synopsis: Shelby remembers what her life was like after her husband graduated from Morehead State University.

Keywords: Appalachia; Appalachian writers; Appalshop; Background; Community; Contributors; Editors; Friends; Generations; Groups; Hazard (Ky.); Hazard Herald; Husbands; Literary magazines; Mail; Morehead State University; Projects; Whitesburg (Ky.)

Subjects: Artists; Marriage; Musicians; Writing

00:41:19 - Identity as a writer / place in work

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Partial Transcript: You're often referred to as an Appalachian writer, is that the primary designation you give yourself, or how would you characterize your writing and your own persona as a writer?

Segment Synopsis: Shelby considers what her identity as a writer truly is. The labels that others place upon writers in general are also discussed. Subsequently, Shelby evaluates the role that setting and place play in her work.

Keywords: Appalachia; Appalachian writers; Connected; Culture; Gender; Grandparents; Important; Labels; Landscape; Life; Parents; Person; Region; Setting (Literature); Stereotypes; Time

Subjects: Authors; Childhood; Families.; Identity (Psychology); Place attachment; Writing

00:46:57 - Graduate school

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Partial Transcript: When did you start writing on your own, not for jobs, but for just because you wanted to write?

Segment Synopsis: Shelby reflects upon her time in graduate school at the University of Kentucky, which was spent pursuing an M.A. in English.

Keywords: Appalachian women writers; Encouragement; Excitement; Existence; Friends; Generations; George Ella Lyon; Graduate schools; Gurney Norman; Hazard Community College; Interesting; Kentucky Women Writers Conference; Learning labs; Master of Arts; PhD; Plans; Poems; Professors; Respectful; Style; Transitions; University of Kentucky; Women; Work

Subjects: Courses and lectures; Creative writing; Education, Higher; English; Higher education; Literature; Teachers; Writing

00:54:06 - Writing in Lexington, Kentucky / move to Clay County, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: And you were writing mostly poems at the time?

Segment Synopsis: Shelby relays what her writing career was like both while she was in graduate school at the University of Kentucky, and following the completion of her education. Shelby's decision to move to Clay County, Kentucky from Lexington is also explained.

Keywords: Appalachian writers; Artwork; Careers; Children's books; Clay County (Ky.); Community; Country; Events; Family; Form; Frankfort (Ky.); Friendship; George Ella Lyon; Government; Graduate schools; Great-grandparents; Houses; Husbands; Kentucky Women Writers Conference; Lexington (Ky.); Lexington writers; Moving; Occupations; Oneida (Ky.); Oneida Baptist Institute; Role models; Sons; Uncles; University of Kentucky; Work; Writers groups

Subjects: Authors.; Education, Higher; Employment--Kentucky; Higher education; Identity (Psychology); Literature; Poetry; Teaching; Writing

01:01:39 - Publishing history

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Partial Transcript: Had you published any books before moving?

Segment Synopsis: Shelby summarizes her publishing history, and the impact that becoming a published author has had upon her life.

Keywords: "Potluck"; "We Keep A Store"; Age; Alphabet books; Children's books; Clay County (Ky.); Editors; George Ella Lyon; Happy; Illustrations; Language; Lexington (Ky.); Life; Manuscripts; Multicultural; Orchard Street Press; Outside; Perception; Poems; Public; Publishers; Regional journals; Rejected; Success; Treatment; Weight; Wonderful; Work; Writers; Writers groups

Subjects: Authors and publishers.; Authors.; Books; Publishers and publishing.; Writing

01:10:18 - Goals for writing

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Partial Transcript: It seems to me in your children's books the strongest themes relate to the significance of family or of intimate, loving relationships...

Segment Synopsis: Shelby shares what her goals are for when she decides to write a children's book.

Keywords: "Homeplace"; "Potluck"; "We Keep A Store"; "What to Do About Pollution"; Children's books; Different; Form; Goals; Grandparents; Memories; Non-fiction; Picture books; Readers; Rewrites; Sons; Themes; Word games

Subjects: Authors.; Books; Children; Writing

01:16:28 - Illustrating children's books

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Partial Transcript: Not being a children's book writer myself, I've always thought it would be really difficult, uh, to write...

Segment Synopsis: Shelby describes her collaboration with various illustrators in order to make the drawings for her children's books. The challenges that accompany not working directly with the illustrators, as well as not knowing them personally, are highlighted.

Keywords: "Homeplace"; "Potluck"; "We Keep A Store"; "What to Do About Pollution"; Artists; Beauty; Books; Children's books; Complaints; Connections; Details; Exchanges; Experiences; Family; Freedom; Illustrations; Illustrators; Images; Landscape; Learning; Objectives; People; Places; Relationships; Shocking; Sound; Text; Vision; Visual imagination; Words; Work

Subjects: Authors.; Books; Children; Writing

01:24:08 - Writing children's books / genres

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Partial Transcript: And you may have already answered this but what do you enjoy most about writing children's books, and is there a difficult aspect of writing for children?

Segment Synopsis: Shelby illustrates what her favorite and least favorite parts of writing children's books are. Following this, Shelby discusses genres that she would like to write within that she has not previously written under.

Keywords: Children's books; Ego; Essays; Feeling; Form; Genres; Happy; History; Michael Dorris; Picture books; Poems; Process; Published; Publishers; Quality; Satisfaction; Selling; Short form; Songs; Timing; Uncertain; Unfocused; Versatility

Subjects: Authors.; Books; Children; Writing

01:31:50 - Playwriting / AIDS

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Partial Transcript: Will you discuss your play based on the work of Kentucky writer and AIDS activist Belinda Mason, as well as the lyrics you wrote for the original musical composition on battered women performed last Spring in Louisville?

Segment Synopsis: Shelby details her experiences with playwriting. Informally speaking, Shelby has put on plays at the Kentucky Governor's School for the Arts and with Appalshop. In a more formal sense, Shelby talks of a play about AIDS, which continued the work of Shelby's friend, Belinda Mason, who died from AIDS-related complications in 1991. Additionally, the role of the interviewee's husband in revising this play is also described.

Keywords: AIDS speeches; Adaptation; Advice; Alone; Appalachian Collection; Appalshop; Audience; Belinda Mason; Chapters; Characters; Contamination; Criticism; Decisions; Difficult; Dimensions; Eastern Kentucky; Endings; English; Essays; Exhausting; Faculty; Friends; George Ella Lyon; Hazard Community College; Heinemann Writers Workshop; Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS); Husbands; Jim Wayne Miller; Kentucky Governor's School for the Arts; Kentucky Women Writers Conference; Kentucky writers; Learning; Lyrics; Manuscripts; Married; Monologues; Novels; One-woman shows; Performance; Plays; Poems; Process; Projects; Published; Reactions; Responsibility; Reviews; Revisions; Short fiction; Situations; Space; Stages; Structure; Students; Talking; Theater; University of Kentucky; Whitesburg (Ky.); Women; Working; Writers

Subjects: AIDS (Disease); Authors.; Blood--Transfusion; Death; Identity (Psychology); Playwriting; Writing

01:50:53 - Play about battered women / writing lyrics

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Partial Transcript: Uh, uh, I think the question I asked you about Belinda Mason was sort of two-pronged because I had at the end of that question...

Segment Synopsis: Shelby describes the process of writing lyrics for a play about women who were physically abused. Shelby's thoughts on writing lyrics in general are also shared.

Keywords: Appalshop; Background; Battered women; Belinda Mason; Books; Cleaning; Colleges; Comments; Connected; Domestic violence; Faculty; Gratified; Houses; Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS); Influences; Interested; Judith Jennings; Kentucky; Lexington (Ky.); Louisville (Ky.); Louisville Courier-Journal; Lyrics; Match; Minors; Musicians; Mutual friends; News channels; Opera; Phone calls; Plays; Playwriting; Praise; Process; Procrastination; Projects; Publicity; Reading; Release; Stage; States; Story; Talk shows; Talking; Thinking; University of Kentucky; University of Louisville; Validation; Whitesburg (Ky.); Women

Subjects: Authors.; Music; Spouse abuse; Women--Abuse of; Writing

02:02:06 - Teaching creative writing / writing profession

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Partial Transcript: You've taught creative writing at the Appalachian Writers Workshop at Hindman, as well as for the Kentucky Governor's School for the Arts, as you mentioned earlier...

Segment Synopsis: Shelby illustrates her experiences with teaching creative writing in a variety of settings and age groups. Subsequently, Shelby discusses the writing profession, and the impact this career choice has had upon her life in general.

Keywords: "Mean"; "Rude"; Arts; Attention; Audience; Books; Celebrity; Children; Communication; Different; Envy; Expectations; Experience; Fame; Interest; Kentucky; Kids; Motivations; Names; Professions; Published; Respect; Self-expression; Students; Talent; Validation; Words; Workshops; Writers

Subjects: Creative writing; English; Teaching; Writing

02:09:36 - Nature of creativity

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Partial Transcript: Um, do you have any thoughts as to what the nature of creativity itself might be?

Segment Synopsis: Shelby contemplates what the true nature of creativity is, and how this desire to create shapes the essence of her writing.

Keywords: "Physical symptoms"; Addiction; Creativity; Depression; Effort; Energy; Exercise; Feelings; Gardening; Habits; Internal; Motivations; Music; People; Playing; Socialization; Spiritual; Universe; Words

Subjects: Authors.; Teaching; Writing

02:14:14 - Schedule / career

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Partial Transcript: Uh, what are your writing habits?

Segment Synopsis: Shelby outlines her typical writing schedule (or lack thereof). Next, Shelby's career as a writer, as well as influences upon her work, are explored. The business side of freelance writing is also mentioned.

Keywords: "Down period"; Business; Careers; Comparisons; Competition; Creativity; Dissertation; Finished; Freelance; Glamour; Gurney Norman; Influences; Interviewers; Intuitive; Magazines; Manic depressive illness; Money; Paper; Pretend; Problems; Process; Procrastination; Product; Projects; Response; Schedules; Students; Time; Training; Uncertain; Work; World

Subjects: Authors; Employment--Kentucky; Teaching; Writing

02:24:28 - Advice for new writers / writing process

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Partial Transcript: Um, what advice would you give beginning writers?

Segment Synopsis: Shelby shares the advice she would give to prospective writers. Next, Shelby describes her writing process, which includes writers groups as well as informal input from other Kentucky writers.

Keywords: Acting; Advice; Children's books; Community; Difficult; Directors; Experience; Feedback; Friends; Groups; Impatience; Interesting; Kentucky writers; Letters; Lonely; People; Plays; Practice; Process; Product; Stimulus; Talking; Understanding; Uninteresting; Useful; Visiting; Vocabulary; Writers groups

Subjects: Authors.; Writing

02:30:35 - Future projects / final thoughts

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Partial Transcript: Is there a particular piece of writing or book you would most like to tackle?

Segment Synopsis: Shelby describes various upcoming literary projects. Lastly, Shelby talks of her son, who is also interested in writing.

Keywords: Alternative newspapers; Appalachian folktales; Art; Balance; Children; Classes; Comfortable; Drama; Eager; Eastern Kentucky; English; Faculty; Fairy tales; Friends; Fun; Genres; Hiatus; Interviewers; Japan; Kentucky Governor's School for the Arts; Language; Mentors; Novels; Picture books; Plans; Plays; Professions; Projects; Readable; Readers; Sons; Versatile; Writer; sCollection

Subjects: Authors.; Creative writing; Teachers; Teaching; Writing