news-category: Campus News

Gardner-Webb English Department Hosts Program with Award-Winning Author

Presented by the Darlene J. Gravett Visiting Writer Series, Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle Discusses Her Debut Novel

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Award-winning author Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle will be the guest speaker for the Darlene J. Gravett Visiting Writer Series on Oct. 2 at Gardner-Webb University. Hosted by the Department of English Language and Literature, Clapsaddle will spend time during the day sharing with creative writing and first-year composition students. The public is invited to hear Clapsaddle speak at 7 p.m. in Hamrick Hall’s Blanton Auditorium. She will discuss her debut novel, “Even As We Breathe.”

Dr. Chris Davis, chair of the Department of English Language and Literature, said the department is excited and honored to host Clapsaddle for the students and the community. “‘Even As We Breathe’ is an important novel for Cherokee and Appalachian literature,” Davis noted. “Set during World War II in both Cherokee, North Carolina, and Asheville’s Grove Park Inn, ‘Even As We Breathe’ gives us the remarkable story of 19-year-old Cowney Sequoyah, whose struggles with family and love are overshadowed when he is accused of abduction and murder.”

Clapsaddle, an enrolled citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, resides in Qualla, N.C. with her husband, Evan, and sons, Ross and Charlie. She holds degrees from Yale University and the College of William and Mary. Her debut novel is a finalist for the Weatherford Award and named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2020. In 2021, the book received the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award.

She also received awards for her first novel manuscript, “Going to Water.” Her work has appeared in “Yes! Magazine,” “Lit Hub,” “Smoky Mountain Living Magazine,” “South Writ Large,” “Our State Magazine,” and “The Atlantic.” After serving as executive director of the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, Clapsaddle returned to teaching at Swain County High School for over a dozen years. She is the former co-editor of the Journal of Cherokee Studies, serves on the Board of Directors for the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, and is the president of the Board of Trustees for the North Carolina Writers Network.

Clapsaddle established Bird Words, LLC in 2022 and works as an independent contractor and consultant. In 2023, in partnership with Museum of the Cherokee Indian, Clapsaddle launched “Confluence: An Indigenous Writers’ Workshop Series” that seeks to bring indigenous writers to the Qualla Boundary (Cherokee, N.C.) to work with aspiring writers several times throughout the year.

The Darlene J. Gravett Visiting Writer Series Fund was established to provide annual funding for the Department of English Language and Literature to host a visiting writer. This endowed fund was initiated by a gift from Gravett, associate provost emerita of Gardner-Webb and professor of English. The fund expresses Gravett’s commitment to the Department of English Language and Literature.

Auxiliary aids will be made available to persons with disabilities upon request 10 working days prior to the event.  Please call 704-406-4270 or email [email protected] with your request.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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