- Rebecca’s Table by Rebecca Hill and The Table Writers (Nov 10, 2005)
- A Killing Time in St. Cloud (1988) (co-authored with Judith Guest)
- Among Birches (1986)
- Blue Rise (1983)
- Cotton House (to be published)
by Anna Cheek (SHS)
The Mississippi writer, Rebecca Hill, demonstrates her Southern roots in her writing. She was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on January 18, 1944, to Meador Troy Hill, an industrial engineer, and Meredith Bush Hill. However, in 1946, when Hill was two, she and her family moved to the Jones County town of Calhoun, Mississippi, her mother’s hometown. She is the third child of four. She has three brothers She and her family then briefly lived in Yazoo City, Mississippi. When she was in second grade, the family moved to a nearby rural town of Soso, Mississippi, in Jones County where the novel Blue Rise is set ( Myers n.p.). During her third grade year, the family packed and moved once again to Palos Park, Illinois (1953) where the Hill family resided for over twenty years (May 227). However, as Southerners, they did not feel welcome. She claims, “We were exiles….” Though they lived in the North, they longed for the time they would go back home to the South.
A well-rounded education since elementary school has provided the foundation for Rebecca Hill’s career. She attended Soso Elementary, where she experienced tough relationships– especially when she lost queen of the third grade to her best friend (Abbott 767). Later Rebecca attended Victoria University of Manchester between 1964 and 1965. In 1966, she enrolled in Grinneil College, where she achieved a B.A. degree and graduated Phi Beta Kappa (Abbott 767). In 1967, she received her M.A. degree from Harvard University. She became an editorial consultant and education writer and spent several years researching and writing material on the parenting of infants. She has also been a consultant on institutional sexism in education. These activities had a strong influence on ideas in her novels. She married and has two daughters.
Rebecca Hill has achieved a noted status. Her first book, Blue Rise, written in 1983 while she was living in St. Cloud, Minnesota., has received national attention, and it won the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters award. Also, the book was nominated for the prestigious Hemminway Award (Gholson n.p.). She wrote another novel, Among Birches in 1986. She also co-wrote A Killing Time in St. Cloud with Judith Guest (author of Ordinary People) while living in Gainesville, Georgia. It was a main selection of the Mystery Guild and an alternate for the Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Clubs. It won so much acclaim that she decided to develop a stage play out of it. Not only has she been a writer, but a screenwriter and producer. Her films include “Thundergrumbler” (1971), “Trogmoffy” (1970), and “The New Kid” (1970). Her impressive resume includes screenwriter for King Screen Productions, publication director for project PAT, a consultant on institutional sexism for The Loft in Minnesota, and a part-time teacher (May 227). In 1981, she won a fiction award from The Loft for the “Loft Mentor Series.” She also has many memberships including International P.E.N. and Author’s Guild (May 227).
Rebecca Hill is finishing the manuscript for Cotton House which is set in the South. In addition, she plans to continue to work on screenplays. Her plans also include a memoir about her late husband, who died three years ago of cancer (2000 Hill interview). She now resides in Fort Collins, Colorado.
For several years, novelist Rebecca Hill has led a writing workshop focused on personal story. The stories and essays that originated in that workshop and were read at “The Table”, customarily filled with notebooks, pens, and food became Rebecca’s Table by Rebecca Hill and The Table Writers and was published Nov 10, 2005.
A Review of Blue Rise
by Anna Cheek (SHS) 2000
Blue Rise by Rebecca Hill is the true essence of Southern culture and heritage. Not only does this book describe poetically the vast landscape of South Mississippi, but it also gives the reader detailed intricacies of Southerners in a rural town. Personally, I can relate to these flamboyant characters and their real life adventures on the Blue Rise Road. Jeannine, the protagonist, is traveling back to escape her marriage problems and to experience her Southern roots once again. However, she faces many conflicts and disputes with her mother over the once ideal husband and the” new age” contemporary one. She faces her past as she reminisces with her cousins or her once-best friend, Carrie Dean. In her mother’s eyes, Carrie Dean is the ideal Southern wife Jeannine should be. Jeannine’s mother refers to her as selfish and not thankful for the perfect husband she possesses, and Jeannine tries to explain to her that her personal happiness is what counts. She tries to get through her mother’s head that women no longer hold to the old Southern customs (such as raising the family), but are inspired to achieve their dreams. However, she can not seem to sort through all her troubles to decide which she wants: her child or freedom.
Throughout the novel, there are somewhat familiar and humorous incidents that hit home. Hill does a wonderful job blending the culture with humor. Since my family is from the same rural Southern town of Soso, Mississippi, it makes me laugh every time I read a familiar characteristic that my family possesses. The family reunions and all the small town gossip, which remind me of my family, are what inspired the basic plot of this book. Rebecca Hill says, “I decided to write Blue Rise while I was at a family reunion, and I began to write down things…” (Hill interview). The events in this novel paint a detailed picture in the reader’s mind. Hill’s words are so straightforward and sincere that anyone can feel he or she is a part of the story.
One reader states that Rebecca Hill’s Blue Rise is a marvel. It appreciates the kind of disjunction that many who were “raised” in the Southern Bible belt have experienced as they have been dislocated from their roots while trying to retain the nourishment that their Southern (and often religious) nurture provided (McCauley).
Blue Rise definitely is a winner for any reader interested in his or her Southern roots. However, I recommend adults read this book instead of teenagers because of some content and language. In summary, this quote sums it all up in The New Yorker, “Rebecca Hill gets almost as close to us as Eudora Welty did in The Ponder Heart,” (Hill n.p.).
by Anna Cheek (SHS)
1. What inspired you to write Blue Rise and why?
When I decided to write Blue Rise, I was making notes about a family reunion. As I began to write down things, I decided how the story would be and whether or not the main character would be married or not and so forth.
2. How has Southern culture influenced your writing and life?
Southern culture is the matrix. Since my parents grew up in it, I too experienced the strong tradition of story telling. Story telling really is the ability to articulate experiences and the willingness to entertain each other.
3. Do you currently have any works in progress, or do you have plans for some in the future?
Right now l am about to turn in the manuscript to Cotton House, which is based in the South. I am also working on a couple of screenplays including one on A Killing Time in St Cloud. Some time in the future I plan to write a memoir of my husband, who died of cancer three years ago.
4. What people have really influenced your life?
Eudora Welty and Alice Munro have been great inspirations to me. Also, my mother ‘s family consisted of strong and articulate women who have influenced me.
- THAT’S ASPERA TESTING THE ICE by ROSEMARY DANIELL in New York Times Book Review of Among Birches, 1986.
- Abbott, Dorothy, ed. Mississippi Writers: Reflections of Childhood and Youth. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi,
- Cox, James L. “Rebecca Hill.” Mississippi Almanac. 1997 ed.
- Gifford, Thomas. “Going Home Again.” The Washington Post. 22 April 1984: D4.
- Gholson, Melinda. “Blue Rise: Earnest Love Gone Wrong.” Leader Call. 13 September 1983: n.p.
- Hill, Rebecca. Blue Rise. New York: Penguin Books, 1983.
- Hill, Rebecca. Telephone interview. 2 May 2000.
- McCauley. Available at [email protected]
- Myers, Leslie. “Jam’s Literary Lights features Rebecca Hill.” The Clarion Ledger. 16 May 1991: n.p.
- Scafidel, Jim. “Women are focus of Rebecca Hill’s new book.” The Clarion Ledger. 20 April 1996: 8.