Jessica Handler is the author of the novel The Magnetic Girl, a Wall Street Journal Spring 2019 pick, a Bitter Southerner Summer 2019 pick, and a SIBA Okra Pick. Her memoir, Invisible Sisters, was named one of the “Twenty Five Books All Georgians Should Read,” and her craft guide Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief and Loss was praised by Vanity Fair magazine. Her writing has appeared on NPR, in Tin House, Drunken Boat, The Bitter Southerner, Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, Newsweek, The Washington Post, and More Magazine.
Women Wielding Power, Sponsored by Bray Electrical Services
Set in rural north Georgia two decades after the Civil War, Jessica Handler’s novel, The Magnetic Girl, is about Lulu Hurst, a girl who wants more than a lifetime of caring for her disabled baby brother, Leo. She finds possibility by learning to captivate an audience with her perceived “electrical” powers. Cai Emmon’s Weather Woman is the story of a meteorologist named Bronwyn Artair. After a year of living alone in Southern New Hampshire, enduring the indignities of her job, dumped by her boyfriend, she discovers that her deep connection to the natural world has given her an ability to affect natural forces. Together these two authors discuss their captivating novels involving climate change, mystics, manipulation, and the exploration of a woman’s power.
Stacia Pelletier is the author of Accidents of Providence and The Half Wives, both of which were shortlisted for the Townsend Prize in Fiction. She earned graduate degrees in religion and historical theology from Emory University. She has been a Woodruff Fellow, a W.M. Keck Foundation Fellow, and a fellow of the Hambidge Center. She works at Emory University as a speechwriter and has taught creative writing at Candler School of Theology, Wake Forest School of Divinity, and the University of North Georgia.
The Magnetic Girl
In rural North Georgia two decades after the Civil War, thirteen-year-old Lulu Hurst reaches high into her father’s bookshelf and pulls out an obscure book, The Truth of Mesmeric Influence. Deemed gangly and undesirable, she wants more than a lifetime of caring for her disabled baby brother, Leo, with whom she shares a profound and supernatural mental connection. Lulu begins to “captivate” her friends and family, controlling their thoughts and actions for brief moments at a time. After Lulu convinces a cousin she conducts electricity with her touch, her father sees a unique opportunity. He grooms his tall and indelicate daughter into an electrifying new woman: The Magnetic Girl. Lulu travels the Eastern seaboard, captivating enthusiastic crowds by lifting grown men in parlor chairs and throwing them across the stage with her “electrical charge.”