About the Book
Declin Ostrander arrives in Lickskillet S.C., he encounters a town on edge after a grisly hate crime has taken place in one of the town’s most affluent gated communities. The victim, Francis Jameson, the town’s first black mayor is found murdered. The murder coincides with a series of other strange occurrences; the town’s haunted house burns to the ground, the local swimming hole is filled in after plans are announced it has been sold to make space for condominiums, and a corporate lawyer arrives in town to defend the accused-the lawyer happens to be Declin’s father.
Heathens and Liars of Lickskillet re-landscapes the South as an absurdist menagerie of Southern heritage group, social segregation and corrupt local politics. At center stand the disaffected and aloof teens of Lickskillet ; Blaine, Aaron, Charlotte and Cass crusading against the humid hum of boredom.
About the Author
Derek Berry is a senior political science major at the College of Charleston. His work has been published in Power of Words and Poetry Diversified as the 2011 and 2012 prize winner of the Poetry Matters Literary Prize, (2011, 2013 P.R.A. Publishing). He self-published his first chapbook, Skinny Dipping with Strangers in 2013. His spoken word album Perfect Nights was released in 2014.
A native of Aiken, South Carolina. Berry spent a brief stint as a freelance columnist for Verge Magazine while fine-tuning his skills as a spoken word poet; performing throughout the southeastern United States. His short stories can be found in The Inkling and on his blog The Savage Pen. Heathens and Liars of Lickskillet County is Berry’s first fiction novel.
Praise for Heathens and Liars
"A haunting, humorous tale of teens negotiating the fiery labyrinths of love and hate in the South. Berry's timely, contemporary voice is engaging and entertaining.”
Kelly Owen, author of The College Chronicles Novel Series
"A multi-layered satire about coming-of-age in a small town in the wake of a divisive murder that somehow manages to both celebrate and savage the contemporary South. Berry is an impressive writer."
Anthony Varallo, author of Think of Me and I'll Know
Sheri Hoyte Reader Views
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Straight From the Author
How did you come up with the title for your book?
Who would be most interested in your book and why?
I believe The Heathens and Liars of Lickskillet County explores the south in a way other southern novels have not, particularly focusing on the hybrid of youth and southern culture. On the one hand, these kids are ingrained in a society ruled by social etiquette, family ties, and deep-roots tradition, but they are also still teenagers, making foolish decisions and railing out against the boredom of the town. Strangely, most of the conflict that arises among the teens is born in the crucible of boredom and their furious attempts to make meaning out of their lives.
What is the most fascinating component of the book?
In reading the book, you must question the actual credibility of the characters and their opinions. The novel also offers a unique perspective on the South, which has either through an outsiders' lens been demonized as backwards or from a southerner's perspective been praised. I offer a social critique of the small South Carolina town, of our defunct educational system, and of the people who live here. It scrubs away at the myth of a land steeped in antiquity, while not gilding too pristinely the region's character.
What are the main ideas or themes of your book?
Identity is fluid and cannot be determined by phrases or tags. Each characters strives to define himself or herself in different ways throughout the book, whether that be defying stereotypes, removing yourself from an emotionally-manipulative relationship, rejecting familial expectations, or just deciding that you're going to be yourself and not some pretended version of yourself.
Are the experiences in the book based on someone you know, or events in your life?
I grew up in a small southern town and many of the landmarks of the town are based on real places in the books. I talk about the social structures of our "southern town" that hopefully reflect the truth, or at least my version of the truth. For example, some of the characters vent their frustration about the elitism of gated communities or the failures of the SC public school system, and these criticisms are certainly shared by myself.
The characters do not reflect anyone in particular, though some of them share characteristics with myself and others. I must admit that one character, who struggles with a drug addiction but is also extremely intelligent, is based off of an old friend of mine. Since I've written the book, he's gone to rehabilitation and stayed clean, but when we hung out as teenagers, he held this infectious charisma that could convince you to do anything. At the same time that the characters makes stupid decisions, he's actually a genius—some of the practices and tics of the character Blaine resemble this friend.
Why would an editor, radio/tv show host be interested in your book?
If you could require the President Obama to read one book, what would it be?
The president is already incredibly well-read, I'm sure, so it might be difficult for me to pinpoint an edifying book that he has not yet consumed. I believe, however, he should read The Devil's Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea, which details the journey of illegal immigrants across a dangerous Arizona landscape.
You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited, living or deceased?
Oscar Wilde. Chuck Wendig. Ray Bradbury.
Interested in having Derek come and speak or want to review his book? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org