Every once-in-a-while a writer comes along who stands head and shoulders above the rest. This is maybe one out of 10,000 writers or wannabe writers. Such is 83 year old L. Kephart-Nash, better known as Linda Nash, of Ft. Madison. I like to tease Linda and say, “Oh, you’re creating a writer’s name like W. Somerset Maugham or F. Scott Fitzgerald.” She blushes and explains that her publisher did a name search and discovered there were too many other Linda Nash authors. So Linda inserted her middle name. Same thing. In desperation she came up with L. Kephart-Nash, “Kephart” being her maiden name. It worked. (Remember to use her “author name” when you search Amazon for Linda’s first book, “When the Tempest Passes…and the Wicked is No More.”)
L. Kephart Nash attended my creative writing class last winter. Trust me on this one, I’d love to take credit for producing a block-buster author. Truth be known, you don’t “teach” creative writing. You just provide the platform to write, then stand back and get out of the way. Most of the “teaching” comes from feedback from the other students. The “teacher” is like the Vice President of the United States who casts a vote only in case of a tie.
Enough beating around the bush. L. Kephart-Nash has written The Great American Novel of the 21st Century! I’m not exaggerating. I edited and proofed Linda’s book. To date, I have been through her book word-for-word four times. (I have never read anything four times, and would enjoy a fifth.) With each reading I am still stunned and riveted to my recliner by the power of the story and the beauty of her prose. And this is her first book—at 83! BTW, she does it the old fashioned way—hand writing. Her daughter, Danette, word processes the manuscript.
There are two elements that go into a great story, either one of which make for a successful novel. One is the power of the story; the other is prose. A dull story can be made beautiful by exquisite writing, and poor writing can be carried by a powerful story. L. Kephart-Nash masters both. “When the Tempest Passes” is the most powerful story I have ever read, with the exception of The Crucifixion, and she packages it beautifully with descriptive prose/poetry that creates breath-taking images, then pounds you in the gut with the brutality of life. And she’s not a writer. L. Kephart-Nash is a retired nurse who moved from obstetrics to geriatrics. Ah, ha! Therein lies the secret to her talent: taking the reader from birth to death then back again. I realized she was a genius when she did not take all the suggestions I made. Her creativity could not be tamed! L. Kephart-Nash employs some writing techniques used only by seasoned writers of award-winning reputation. Where did she learn this? She didn’t. It’s in her.
What makes “When the Tempest Passes” the Great American Novel? It’s a story of the American Dream almost squelched by male dominance, of suffrage in its infancy, and of escape, retribution and redemption through the birth of new generations. The Norwegians came to America to eke out a living from the soil and propagate a lifestyle that took captives and kept people in bondage. Secrets lay buried under handmade quilts, heirloom Bibles, and nameless markers in family graveyards.
When we get through this pandemic I will arrange for a meet-the-author-and-book-signing in Ft. Madison for L. Kephart-Nash (Linda Nash). In the meantime, you can find her book, “When the Tempest Passes…and the Wicked is No More” on Amazon, just in time for Christmas. Remember to use her “writer’s name.”
Not a one-book author, she’s almost finished with her second. I can’t wait.
Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com.