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Meet Your Neighbor: Local playwright, historian publishes first book

Jessica Fuller • Oct 28, 2018 at 6:00 PM

When Anne G’Fellers Mason’s first book hit the shelves earlier this month, it was a dream 20 years in the making. 

Although she penned the young adult novel, “The Summer Between,” in 2009, her interest in writing novels began in middle school with a notepad, pen and summer vacation from school. Writing was the first of many passions for Mason, who is a playwright and historian in addition to a published author. 

“The Summer Between” follows protagonist Brendon through a transitional period in his life — the summer between high school and college. Mason wrote the book as a young adult novel, but adults might find some nostalgia within the book’s 300 pages. 

“It’s a coming of age story, but it’s funny and really heartfelt,” Mason said. “I just hope people enjoy it — it’s a fun little ride.”

Mason was 12 years old when she wrote her first novel in her spiral-bound notebook and colorful pen. Her fantastical world filled with dragons, which she admits has had a couple of revisions since she wrote it, will also be picked up by Mountain Gap Books next year. 

It was also in middle school that Mason landed her first role in a play, and from there her interest in theater grew until college. She credits her high school teachers in helping her foster an interest in history, which led to bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from East Tennessee State University. 

Now, she’s the special projects coordinator for the Heritage Alliance. Sometimes, that means pushing paperwork. Other days, she’s curating one of Jonesborough’s museums or leading a tour of students on a field trip. 

And sometimes, she’s rolling all her passions into one by writing original, historical plays set in Tennessee’s oldest town. 

Her original play, “With These Hands,” a chronicle of the town’s history, returned to the McKinney Center by popular demand earlier this year. The fifth season of “A Spot on the Hill,” a series born from research and passion, allows audience members to meet some of Jonesborough’s historic figures every year in a new calibration. 

Originally, Mason’s interest in theater was born from the camaraderie that comes with putting on a production, but when she began writing them, she realized she could spark an interest in history for someone else. 

“In writing (plays), especially in writing historical plays, I love being able to share history in a different way,” she said.  “Some people don’t connect with history through lectures or through exhibits or museums, but they might connect with it in a theatrical setting.

“History gets a bad rap for just being names and dates, but there’s so much more to it, you just have to find a form that engages people.”

Find Mason’s book, “The Summer Between,” on Amazon as an ebook or in paperback. Keep an eye out for her next novel that will be published by Mountain Gap Books. 

Email Jessica Fuller at jfuller@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.

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