‘Launch party’ for Madelyn Bennett Edwards' novel to be held Sunday

Avoyelles’ newest author is no novice to writing, just to the world of novels.

Madelyn Bennett Edwards’ first novel Catfish was released in bookstores and online Monday (Oct. 23), but those in this area can help her celebrate at a “launch party” from 4-7 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 29), at Bailey’s on the Square in downtown Marksville.

The event is being sponsored by Bailey’s.

“I grew up in Marksville, and the town in this book is very much like Marksville,” Edwards said.

The novel is set in the Louisiana town of Jean Ville in the 1960’s.

Edwards will have books available for sale and will autograph them during the event. She will also read passages from the novel.

She earned her degree in journalism and wrote for television for 25 years.

In addition to the launch party, Edwards will speak to the Rotary Club of Avoyelles at noon Monday in the LSU/SU AgCenter in Mansura.

The book is published by Ingram-Sparks and is available in paperback for $14.99 and as an ebook for $8.99.

The book explores the chasm between black and white families that existed in the Deep South in the 1960s and ‘70s when Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan defied federal laws.

The title character is an old black man named Catfish who befriends Susie Burton, a young white girl whose traumatic home life is hidden behind her father’s political power. Catfish teaches her what a true, loving family is all about.

Without giving too much of the story away, a brief summary is that Susie finds her real self through Catfish and his family. As she grows to be a young woman, she falls in love with Rodney Thibault -- a cousin of Catfish’s granddaughter.

The novel then follows the young couple’s journey, fraught with violence and abuse from outside sources and from within Susie’s own family.

Edwards moved from Marksville in 1983 and moved out-of-state in 1994. She now lives with her husband, architect Gene Edwards, in Asheville, N.C.

“I worked so hard on this book and I really wanted it to be published before my mother passed away,” Edwards said.

Her mother, Mary Taylor Bennett, died recently.

Her mother was also a writer and a poet, but instead of pursuing her writing “she had a family and six kids, Edwards said.

“I think it would have meant a lot to her to see this book,” Edwards continued. “It would have meant a lot to me for her to have been able to read it.”

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