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South of Heaven cover


Thank you for being here.

Patti Frye Meredith


My debut novel is coming out late in life and for me, that's right on time. I could not be happier.


I grew up in Galax, Virginia. Most of my stories are set in my beloved Blue Ridge Mountains, but South of Heaven takes place in the North Carolina Sandhills, in Carthage where my family’s roots run deep. Please know that the Carthage in South of Heaven was born from long ago visits to see my grandmothers, a Carthage formed from hazy childhood memories that have become more imaginary than real. If you know the real Carthage, I apologize for misplaced landmarks and fictitious churches.


After living all over over the South—Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana—my husband, Lee, and I have settled back in Chapel Hill with our Springer Spaniel, Maggie. Nothing could be finer.


“Both deeply Southern and completely universal, South of Heaven is a spellbinding read concocted from the perfect combination of family secrets and generational shame as well as the healing light of reconciliation and acceptance. A beautiful debut from a voice that is as fun to read as she is gifted.”
    Denton Loving,  author of Crimes Against Birds

“An astute and stunning novel, I am fascinated by the mix of comedy and sorrow, delivered by a keenly observant writer. Fern's sweeping emotions will linger in your mind. Vivid with the cadences of a particular time and place--North Carolina in the 1990's—South of Heaven presents a dazzling comparison of fiery, idealized, long-ago love, versus the more complex experiences of love in middle age.”
  Cary Holladay, author of Brides in the Sky: Stories and a Novella

“Wise and funny, Patti Meredith's story of love and possibility and emus is about coming to terms with life's twists and turns and finding bits of Heaven wherever you are. An enchanting debut from a natural-born storyteller, you'll laugh and cry and find your heart just a little bigger by the last page.”

   Sonja Livingston, author of Ghostbread

“With an impeccable ear for dialogue, an artist's eye for detail, and deep understanding of the push and pull of family, Meredith gives us South of Heaven—a celebration of growth and survival when confronted by mistakes and denial and, ultimately, how people can be transformed by acceptance and the astonishing surprises we should all be looking for. A beautiful read!”
  Darnell Arnoult, author of Sufficient Grace and Galaxie Wagon

"I had to reach to remember those first days of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, when that’s all anyone was talking about. And what it might have been like to work in a small town for the weekly newspaper, back when there was such a thing. The late 1990s. Before September 11. Before gay marriage. Before so much crazy that has happened since. But that’s where we meet the unforgettable Fern McQueen in Patti Meredith’s new novel, South of Heaven. It takes about 90 seconds to adjust to the times and then fall in love with Fern, her family and the world of Carthage, North Carolina. What a splendid, satisfying read! The story of the McQueen family gives us lessons in forgiveness, redemption, and transformation, for sure, even a few tips for getting rich quick. There are moments I laughed out loud, times that I worried and cried. But, mostly, when I finished, I wanted to get in the car and drive to Carthage and see if I could find anyone who ever knew these wonderful people. I wanted to eat a biscuit, write a letter to my uncle, and even go to church. And I found myself wondering just whatever happened to Zig Ziglar."

     Donna Campbell, Producer/ Writer/Editor-- 

     Minnow Media


Mulberry Fork Review
“Trouble Was”


In 1991, I found my dream job at the University of North Carolina Public Television. I had the honor of being a part of North Carolina People with William Friday. Mr. Friday loved writers and I got to walk his guests down the long hallway to the studio. Lee Smith. Doris Betts. Reynolds Price. I listened to them tell Mr. Friday about their latest books, and he’d always ask, “Where do these stories of yours come from?” Sitting in the studio behind the cameras, I’d take notes. I believed if I paid attention, one of them would divulge the secret that would help me find my own stories in the scribbled stops and starts I kept in ratty notebooks. When I walked Fred Chappell back to the lobby after his interview, I somehow   found the courage to ask, “What does it take to be a writer?”

“It’s like plowing,” he said. “Behind a mule. One row at a time.” 
I kept chasing after an answer. I wanted to believe somewhere, someone would say what I needed to hear. “Writing is an act of faith,” Darnell Arnoult said. “No part of the process is a waste of time. Just write.”

Cary Holladay taught me to ask, “Whose heart is breaking?”
Judy Goldman said, “Patti, writing is a war of attrition. Don’t attrish.” 

What I didn't realize for a long, long time, was, I'd been given the answer in the very first workshop I ever took, a Duke Continuing Education class taught by Georgann Eubanks. One night Georgann wrote these words on a big white board: Discipline is remembering what you want. 
I’ve kept that quote on my desk for years. I believe it’s the secret. This book is proof.


I'd love to hear from you!

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