- Amy Greene:A Literary Phenomenon
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Amy Greene is a young, mostly self-educated, working class woman who has lived all her life in Eastern Hamblen County, Tennessee. She loves to read, and practically all her life has enjoyed making up stories, both orally and on paper. Like thousands of others, she dreamed of becoming a published author. What is striking about Amy Greene is that the first novel she submitted, Bloodroot, was published by one of America’s most prestigious houses—Alfred A. Knopf—and they are bringing out her second book, Long Man, next February, plus she already has a contract for her third novel.
Amy Greene comes from a family with deep roots in the mountains. Her maternal grandfather was from Hancock County, one of the most rural of East Tennessee counties, about forty miles north of where he settled in Hamblen County as a farmer. Her paternal grandmother was from the Shelton Laurel community of Madison County, North Carolina, in the high mountains about fifty miles to the south. Her paternal grandparents were factory workers. All but her paternal grandfather were deceased by the time Amy was born. He served as pastor for as many as seven churches at the same time, including Pentecostal, Baptist and Methodist denominations. Toward the end of his life, he settled into preaching at a non-denominational church, the House of Worship in Johnson City, tired of the hierarchies of organized religion.
Amy’s father, an ordained minister, served as his father’s volunteer co-pastor while working at Young’s Furniture Manufacturing in Whitesburg, Tennessee. When Amy was born in 1975, her mother left her factory job at Magnovox in Morristown to become a full-time mom to Amy, her six-year-old sister, Stephanie, and her eleven-year old brother, Allen. Amy’s mom subsequently worked tobacco and cleaned houses part-time to earn extra money.
Amy Greene grew up on a forty-eight acre farm established by her maternal grandfather between Whitesburg and Bulls Gap. As a youngster she roamed the woods and the creek behind her farmhouse and made up stories which she told her parents when she returned home. As soon as she learned to write, she began writing down her stories and says she has Rubbermaid boxes full of manuscripts she subsequently produced. [End Page 13]
“I’m lucky enough to have inherited a rich tradition of storytelling and folk belief, passed down through generations of my family,” Amy Greene told Jennifer Haupt for an article that appeared in Psychology Today. “One particular scene in Bloodroot, where Clifford blows down Byrdie’s throat to heal her thrush, is based on a story that my dad tells about his mom taking his baby sister to a neighbor man who had never laid eyes on his father, who cured her thrush the same way. My mother also tells a story about a witch named Huldie that lived down the road from her when she was a little girl, who would read the neighbors’ fortunes in coffee grounds. Although I’ve never witnessed it firsthand, there are people in my own family who are said to have the touch—like my great-aunt who took off warts by rubbing stones in a circle around each one and then throwing the stones away, and my grandmother who is rumored to have once raised the kitchen table off the floor just by looking at it. When I was small, I remember a friend of the family moving out of her house in the hollow because it was ‘hainted.’ People here do still believe in and practice folk magic, especially the older generation. I think it still holds weight because, for whatever reason, psychological or mystical, people see tangible results.”
An avid reader, Amy Greene recalls that she began reading one of her favorite authors, Stephen King, at the age of eleven. At the age of fifteen she met her future husband, Adam Greene, when they were in a school play together. She was a sophomore at Morristown-Hamblen East High School, and he...