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Sterling Watson

Sterling WatsonSterling Watson and Dennis Lehane are Co-directors of the Eckerd College Writers' Conference: Writers in Paradise. He was the Peter Meinke Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at Eckerd College.

Watson is the author of six novels: Weep No More My Brother, The Calling, Blind Tongues, Deadly Sweet, Sweet Dream Baby and Fighting in the Shade.

Watson is the recipient of three Florida Fine Arts Council Awards for fiction writing. His short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, The Michigan Quarterly Review, and The Southern Review. His main professional interests are fiction, play and screenwriting, American and British and European short and long fiction, and the theatre. He served for five years as the fiction editor of The Florida Quarterly, and taught secondary English and later fiction writing at Raiford Prison.


New Releases:

The Calling

Called "a fascinating and intense book with enough drive in it to lift a rocketship" and "one that commands attention and startled respect" by the Greensboro News & Record, this is a story of Blackford "Toad" Turlow, an ambitious, impressionable young man who aspires to be a writer.  TThe voice in his head is that of Eldon Odom, a famous — sometimes infamous — novelist to whom Toad apprentices himself.

 In the beginning, Toad devours every morsel from Odom, both words and actions.  But along the way he learns far more than the art of crafting fiction.  He discovers that behind Odom's genius is a warped human being who abuses himself and those around him with alcohol, drugs and debauchery.  Instead of teaching his eager disciples about writing, Odom uses them to fulfill his base desires.

 "The characters are vivid, the writing first-rate, the material intriguing...a novel of considerable power"

-The Raleigh News and Observer

 "Easy going, full of compassion and rueful good humor...the voice of  a man who loves words and good writing, who has heard the calling and has answered it with his heart."

-Orlando Sentinel

Later in the novel, Toad listens carefully to "The Old Man," the writer who years before was Odom's own mentor and who describes himself as "just the strange boy who cared to write things down."  Toad is also influenced by the echoes of his reckless, lovable dead sister, Trish; Odom's lean and lusty girlfriend, Lindy Briggs; Odom's loving and patient wife, Miss Sully; and by Toad's own girlfriend, the knowing Ardis Baines.

"The characters are vividly realized, resistant to stereotypes.  And the story's three female leads are complex individuals who play out their expected roles in unexpected fashion," said  Nancy Pate in her review for the Orlando Sentinel.

From this boozy, brilliant cast of characters, Toad eventually learns that a man and his art are two different things, that the worth of one may far exceed the other, and that there are dangerously thin lines between creativity and madness, between dedication and obsession.  The Calling is a beautifully written and thoroughly engrossing novel of passion and purpose — one that tells much about the calling and the called.

 Pat Conroy, author of The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini, said "The Calling, "is the best book ever written about that peculiar American invention — the creative writing class.  With the portrait of Eldon Odom, I think Mr. Watson has provided us with an archetype of the American novelist — dissolute and self-absorbed, brilliant and on fire with his own genius."

Breakfast with Buddha author Roland Merullo wrote, "The Calling is one of my favorite novels of all time. Gorgeously written, profound in its understanding of human emotion, absolutely on target in its description of the impulse writers feel to capture life on the page, this is a novel (and a writer) that deserves to be read by every thoughtful reader in the literary universe. If you want a cheap, slick, bestseller-diluted type of experience, this is not the place to go. If you want an extremely satisfying read, get a copy of The Calling and take your time with it."

Blind TonguesBlind Tongues /span>

“…the poetry of Sterling Watson's prose and the depth of his attention to human connectedness keep you reading Blind Tongues.”                                             

 - The Washington Post

“…Blind Tongues is a novel that merits, and repays, quiet absorption and careful reflection…[a] unique and often deeply moving novel…”                          

 -- The Saint Petersburg Times

“Watson is masterful at evoking the landscape and the people who define themselves against it…. [he] weaves an intricate narrative around these tangled lives, rich with telling images and poignant insights… a courtliness of syntax and diction  seems superbly matched to the emotional dignity of the characters. The result is a story that brings quiet grace to the trials of love….”                                  

- Toronto i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Globe and Mail

“A fine talent for storytelling, faultless command of language, and perfect sense of character, place, and time are brought together in a compelling novel that probes the meaning of love at many levels.  …A touching story.”               

- Library Journal

 Praise for Watson's Work:

Weep No More My Brother

"Watson writes with power, directness, urgency and eloquence – a rare combination which makes Weep No More My Brother not only instructive but, rarer, entertaining. I suspect it will also prove memorable, which is rarest of all."

- Reynolds Price

The Calling

“The author deftly fuses sardonic wit and graphic realism to portray Toad's growing maturity and his depraved idol's downfall. Watson… also vividly renders Odom's repugnant private life, with its share of amorality and casually inflicted malice…”                                                              

- Publishers Weekly

Deadly Sweet

“This new work contains all the elements of a good historical mystery without recreating a distant past. Finely crafted characters, places, and events all bring a present-day Florida to life-with an added hint or two of Southern decadence. …the author's resilient prose, precise imagery, subtle plotting, and local color should draw an appreciative audience.”                            

Sweet Dream Baby

“America's loss of innocence in the rock and roll 1950s parallels one boy's painful transformation into a man in Watson's affecting fifth novel …Watson portrays the rich relationship between Travis and Delia with convincing psychological detail. The suspense builds to an explosive ending, and Travis's coming of age is brutal, touching and memorable. …he proves himself a first-rate storyteller.”  

- Publishers Weekly

Fighting in the Shade

“High school football mixes with Faust in this blitz of a novel from Watson . . . the novel spins out a big Dennis Lehane-like story of society, opportunity, and consequences, revealing Watson as an accomplished storyteller." 

- Publishers Weekly 

Sterling Watson