Best-selling author and Cayuga Community College alumna Kim Edwards ’78 returns to the area that inspired her latest book, to deliver “To The Lake of Dreams: One Writer’s Journey” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 27. The talk, which is part of the Noreen and Michael J. Falcone Lecture Series, will be held in the Irene A. Bisgrove Community Theatre at Cayuga Community College, 197 Franklin St., Auburn. The event is free and open to the public.
While on campus, Edwards will speak to a gathering of several English classes and meet with some faculty and administrators. Copies of Edwards’ books will be available for purchase at the evening public talk, which will be followed by a book signing.
In her latest novel, Edwards reportedly drew on her childhood experiences in her former home of Skaneateles, keeping a china bowl full of Finger Lakes shale on her desk for inspiration as she wrote. Set in the Finger Lakes region, the book tells “the story of Lucy Jarrett and her discovery of a hidden past, glimpsed first through fragments of old letters and traces left in stained glass windows. Lucy’s quest through the artifacts of history brings her face to face with the dynamics she fled the summer after her father drowned; it compels her to make an inward journey, too, one that will alter her understanding of herself and change the course of her life,” according to Edwards.
Her previous novel, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, won a Barnes and Noble Discover Award pick and became a word-of-mouth best-seller, spending 122 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list, 20 of those weeks at #1. Published in more than 38 countries, it was also a best seller in Italy, France, Germany, England, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Holland, and Taiwan. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter won the Kentucky Literary Award and the British Book Award, and was chosen as Book of the Year for 2006 by USA Today. It was made into a 2008 television movie, starring Emily Watson, Dermot Mulroney, and Gretchen Mol. In the story, a doctor who delivers his own twins gives away his daughter at birth to prevent his wife and his healthy newborn son from knowing the baby girl was born with Down syndrome.
The oldest of four children, Edwards graduated from Cayuga Community College in Auburn, Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., and the University of Iowa, where she received an MFA in Fiction and an MA in Linguistics. In 1994, Edwards received the Cayuga Community College Alumni Award, which is presented annually to alumni who have made an outstanding contribution in vocational or artistic achievement, volunteer service, public or civic services, or assistance to the College.
She initially enrolled at Cayuga as an accounting major but switched to English after one semester—a decision she said brought her “tremendous joy.” In a 2006 interview for the Cayuga Alumni Association newsletter, Edwards described how Cayuga helped set her on the path toward her writing career. “Since writing is so solitary, one thing that’s always very important to writers at any level, but especially beginning writers, is to have sense of community. That’s something I discovered at CCC. I took a creative writing class and met a lot of other people who were interested in the same sorts of things I loved… I remember going to see the poet Etheridge Knight who read at CCC, and traveling to several different creative writing conferences at other SUNY schools with groups from CCC. Those connections – that discovery of the larger world of writing, the wonderful ongoing dialogue of writing, were very important to me.”
Edwards is also the author of The Secrets of a Fire King, which was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and her stories have been published in The Paris Review, Story, Ploughshares, Zoetrope, and many other periodicals. She has received many awards for the short story, including a Pushcart Prize, the National Magazine Award, the Nelson Algren Award, and inclusion in The Best American Short Stories of 1993. Two of her stories were performed at Symphony Space and broadcast on ‘Selected Shorts.’ She received a Whiting Writers’ Award, as well as grants from the Pennsylvania and Kentucky Arts Councils, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
She has taught in the MFA programs at Warren Wilson and Washington University, and is currently an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky. She is currently on an 18-month tour, promoting The Lakes of Dreams, which was published in January.
Her talk is made possible in part by the Noreen and Michael J. Falcone Fund, which has brought to Cayuga Community College outstanding individuals to speak to the campus and surrounding communities since its founding in 1994.