When her three children had flown the coop and gone to college, Ann. B. Ross of Hendersonville decided it was now her time.
So in her 40s, she went to UNCA. Being a scholar was fun so she went on for a master’s and then a Ph.D. in English Literature at UNC Chapel Hill. Fascinated by the Anglo-Saxons, she wrote her thesis on their concept of the soul. Then she taught for a while at UNCA.
But Ann was still restless. She wrote three novels. Not discouraged by limpid sales figures, she wrote a fourth. She set the book in a small southern town not unlike Hendersonville. Her main character was a charming, resilient woman of “a certain age” named Miss Julia. The tale, that had all the elements of tragedy, turned out to be hilarious.
“You know, I didn’t set out to write a funny book,” Ann says.” I’m not a comedian. With Miss Julia, it all comes out without my trying.”
Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind, published in 1999, was a hit. “Honey, that was the most amazing thing. I was so thrilled when the first book was accepted for publication. I thought I had at that point written everything about Miss Julia — then the editor at Viking offered a contract for three years — and they keep renewing it! I’m the luckiest woman on the planet.”
The 14th book in the series, Miss Julia Stirs up Trouble, is out this month.
Helpless Hazel Marie Puckett — former mistress of Miss Julia’s late husband and now mother of twin babies — gets cooking lessons from the ladies of Abbottsville.
“Next year I’m going to have two books coming out,” Ann reveals. “A Miss Julia in April and another book in September — Etta Mae Wiggins’ story. She’s Julia’s friend, you know, the one who lives in the trailer park. She has quite a checkered history.”
Is Etta Mae going to have some hot romances?
“Oh, honey, just you wait!”