Hammonton provides inspiration as former librarian writes novel
HAMMONTON—Hammonton was fictionalized as the setting for a novel that was published this year. “The New Town Librarian” was written by Kathy Anderson, a Philadelphia resident who was a public librarian for Hammonton and Anderson shared her thoughts on the book and what the town has meant to her.
“The New Town Librarian” is based on the adventures of a public librarian in a small town. The main character, Nan Nethercott, is a queer middle-aged librarian who lands a job as a public librarian in a fictional town called Pinetree, which is inspired by Hammonton. Nethercott discovers challenges such as the library being housed in a former town jail being overrun by harassing teenagers, an intruding landlady, an anonymous reader leaving distressing messages on book stacks and an affair with a deli owner, according to the book’s blurb. Nethercott’s journey shows how her unorthodox solutions could combat the challenges she’s facing as she tries to embark on a new life.
It is Anderson’s first novel and she holds a Master of Library Science degree and worked as a librarian for small-town public libraries in South Jersey for 25 years. In addition to “The New Town Librarian,” Anderson is also the author of the short story collection “Bull and Other Stories,” according to Anderson’s biography.
Anderson wrote the novel because she believes that public libraries are the best places in the universe and that librarians are good invisible forces. Pinetree was inspired by Hammonton as it was rich in amazing stories and has a fascinating history. Anderson wanted to honor and celebrate Hammonton’s strong Italian culture and tried capturing the special qualities of the town into the book. Anderson touched on how much the town influenced her life and the one compliment she received from a reader based on one of the characters in the book.
“As a fiction writer, the sound of words and how people speak is very important to me, so that may be the biggest influence Hammonton has had on my writing life. The gift of its colorful language and ways of expression. One of my favorite compliments so far was from a reader who said the character of Immaculata [the landlady] sounded just like his grandma,” Anderson said.
Anderson’s memories of Hammonton revolve around the food, especially the farm stands and delis. Besides the “outstanding” food, as she described, she called the people in town warm and wonderful and praised the town for the formation of Hammonton Pride, which celebrates the LGBTQ community. Anderson, who is a part of the LGBTQ community, was honored to be a part of Hammonton Pride’s first-ever author event on June 21, where she read with three other writers in front of an audience at Chimney Rustic Ales.
Anderson’s accolades include “The Bull and Other Stories” being a finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards for Lesbian Fiction, Publishing Triangle’s Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction and Foreword INDIES Book of the Year in Short Stories, according to Anderson’s biography.
Since the novel was published, Anderson has been happy with the feedback she’s received.
She appreciated the fact that her readers have gotten laughs out of the novel and that they have a character they can relate to in Nethercott.
“It makes me so happy when I hear from readers that my book made them laugh out loud, because we can all use a good dose of laughter these days. And readers who are looking for stories about second chances in life will find a main character they can relate to in Nan, the town librarian. She’s a perfect example of the truth that life doesn’t come with a set timeline or a clock that stops in middle age. It’s never too late to start over and get what you want out of life,” Anderson said.
“The New Town Librarian” is available on Amazon and NineStar Press’s website. You can follow Anderson on all social medias: kathyandersonwriter1 on Facebook, @anderson_kathy on Twitter and anderson_kathy_writer on Instagram. You can also go to Anderson’s website at www.kathyandersonwriter.com.