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Author learned to write while working on first novel


Oct. 31, 2010 at 5:31 a.m.
Updated Nov. 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.

Ann Weisgarber will speak on Thursday, as part of the American Book Review, about her  transition from the world of academia to becoming a full-time writer.

When Ann Weisgarber first sat down to write her award-winning book, "The Personal History of Rachel DuPree," she wasn't a novelist. In fact, she said she had no idea what she was doing other than she wanted to give a story to a woman she found in an old photograph.

"I don't have a literary background. I was very much a novice when I started. Three pages into it, I realized I didn't know how to write fiction," Weisbarger said.

Cut to today, where her novel has been published in Britain, France and most recently in the U.S. by a major publishing house and she's under contract for a second book that is already in the works and a third book down the road.

The social worker turned sociology professor turned full-time writer will discuss the long, winding road she took to her current profession as the next speaker for the American Book Review reading series on Thursday.

"I'm very pleased to have this invitation to come to Victoria," said Weisbarger, who lives in Sugar Land. "I know that this program is highly regarded so I'm very pleased to be chosen as one of the authors."

Weisbarger's journey began with a simple old photograph of an African-American pioneer woman she saw at a roadside museum in South Dakota. The image so affected her that she started researching black settlers.

"I didn't intend for it to turn into a book, but I got so wrapped up in the research process and the desire to give this woman a story," she said. "For me, the really nice thing about getting the book published is that I feel this woman in the photograph, which had no label, no date, no name, has had her story told and hasn't been forgotten. Her story has been told, even if it came from my imagination."

Although the characters in the book are fictional, the places and events are historically accurate, something which Weisbarger spent a lot of time and energy on.

"History inspires me. I really like writing about a different time and place and stepping out of my own life to enter a different world," she added.

Her second novel is also rooted in historical events and takes place during the 1900 hurricane in Galveston.

For more information about Weisbarger, go to



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