Residents with deep roots in Faulkner County, and especially those in the Centerville community east of Greenbrier may recognize a character or two in author Nancy Glenn Powell’s “Dark Secrets.”
The historical fiction piece follows Powell’s mother, Ollie McNew (Glenn), who was born in 1908 on a farm in the area.
“I’d say the book is about 90 percent true. There’s a lot of fact in there, but it’s also fictionalized,” Powell said. “I’ve embellished the angels a bit.”
According to the author, Ollie, her mother’s character in the three part series, is gifted with premonitions and healing.
Speaking of her mother, Powell said, “Her grandmother helped her in her belief that her premonitions were guidance from her own guardian angels.”
Powell said her work carries on the traditional storytelling passed from generations of women in the Arkansas family.
“Not many books about farm girls have been written about that era. It tells a story about how life was then,” she said.
According to the book’s descriptor, the protagonist witnesses prejudice faced by minorities and women of the era.
The family makes regular trips to bustling Conway to buy supplies for the farm.
‘Each spring and fall, (Ollie) looks forward to shopping trips her family makes to Conway, where they stay overnight at a wagon yard and visit with other families from distant areas,’ the description says.
Powell said her mother told of a two-day trip from the community just past McGintytown, now a 20-minute drive.
“I guess the wagon yard was the hotel of that day,” she said.
“Dark Secrets,” put into print in November, is the first of the Ollie’s Angel Series to be published.
The next book is anticipated in spring, the author said.
“Angels for All” and “Listen for the Angels” are the next installments.
In the second book, Ollie, now a young married woman, experiences the Great Depression and the threat of losing her farm.
The family eventually looks to the promise of a stable income in California, as other sharecroppers and farm families facing the threat of repossession did at the time.
Eventually, the McNews return to Arkansas, as evidenced by landmarks which still stand, including the McNew Cemetery.
“I knew my mother’s hardships would make a good book,” Powell said.
Powell’s first draft, unsuitable for publication in her own opinion, was read cover to cover several times by her mother, Ollie.
Powell will have a book signing Saturday, Jan. 19 at Hastings, 1360 Old Morrilton Highway, from 1-3 p.m.
A resident of Fort Smith, Powell retired from the City of Fort Smith three years ago. She served 29 years as the city’s traffic coordinator.
She is a native of Greenbrier.