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Another Giveaway Winner: What Does Tuberculosis Have to Do With The Ballad of Jessie Pearl? Ask Shannon Hitchcock.

Posted by lindamartinandersen on March 29, 2013

“Another Giveaway Winner:  What Does Tuberculosis Have to Do With The Ballad of Jessie Pearl?  Ask Shannon Hitchcock.” by Linda Martin Andersen

“A Writer’s Playground”–A place to find wordplay, writing, and monthly calendar activities for kids and those young at heart.

I’m reprinting this post for those who may have missed it and announcing the winner of an advanced reader’s copy (ARC) of The Ballad of Jessie Pearl by Shannon Hitchcock. 

And the winner is: 

Tracy Campbell.  Congratulations.  Please email me your address and I will pass it on to Shannon.  I know you’ll enjoy this great book.  Thanks for entering.  And thanks to all the other readers who entered or commented.

It’s Tuberculosis Day–March 24, 2013. 

Meet Shannon Hitchcock, a children’s author who writes about tuberculosis in her debut novel The Ballad of Jessie Pearl.


Visit Shannon Hitchcock’s website at: http://www.shannonhitchcock.com/

Join me in providing a warm welcome for Shannon Hitchcock.


World Tuberculosis Day and THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL 

World Tuberculosis Day is March 24th and to commemorate that day, I’m answering questions about the disease and my novel, THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL.  I’m also offering a giveaway:  An Advanced Readers Copy (ARC) of my novel (paperback).

Here’s a brief synopsis of THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL: It’s 1922, and Jessie has big plans for her future, but that’s before tuberculosis strikes. Though she has no talent for cooking, cleaning, or nursing, Jessie puts her dreams on hold to help her family. She falls in love for the first time ever, and suddenly what she wants is not so simple anymore.  You can get a real flavor for the novel by watching the book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRXyeIJ4js8

Why did you write a novel about tuberculosis? I didn’t exactly choose tuberculosis, it chose me, or more accurately it chose my family. In 1922, one of my grandmother’s sisters died from tuberculosis. Crawley was twenty years old. She left behind a ten-month-old baby and a letter planning her own funeral. That bit of family history captured my imagination and inspired my book.

Where does your novel take place? In my hometown of East Bend, North Carolina. Speaking of which, North Carolina has an interesting history with TB sufferers. The state’s fresh mountain air was considered optimal for treating lung disease. Asheville attracted so many sufferers that a pamphlet published in 1915 by the U.S. Public Health Service declared North Carolina to have the largest number of tuberculosis patients in the world.

What exactly is tuberculosis? Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium called mycobacterium tuberculosis. It’s spread through the air when infected people cough and spit. A great TB overview can be found at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/tb/topic/basics/default.htm

What are the symptoms of the disease? Severe weight loss, a ghostly pale complexion, a hacking cough, blood-tinged phlegm, joint pain, diarrhea, and swollen legs.

Is there a vaccine to prevent tuberculosis? Yes, it’s called Bacille Calmette-Guerin, or BCG. However the vaccine is not widely used in the United States and it doesn’t prevent all types of TB. That’s why doctors ask sick patients if they’ve been exposed to tuberculosis or traveled to parts of the world where TB is prevalent.

How do doctors test for TB? Most often doctors use a TB skin test. With a small needle they inject a testing material called tuberculin under the skin. Two to three days later, they check to see if there is a reaction to the injection. Other tests include a blood test, a chest x-ray, and collecting a sample of sputum or phlegm that is coughed up from the lungs.

Is there a cure for tuberculosis? Yes, the first drug used to treat TB was streptomycin, but doctors soon discovered that it’s more effective to treat the disease with multiple drugs. The current four-drug regimen includes isoniazid, rifampin, pyrazinamide, and ethambutal or streptomycin. You can learn more about the treatment here: http://www.umdnj.edu/ntbcweb/tbhistory.htm.

If there is a cure, why did your family suffer from tuberculosis? Medicine to treat the disease was not readily available until after the end of World War II. During the 1920’s, when my book is set, infected people had two options: rest at home and be cared for by family members, or go away for treatment in a sanatorium.

What is a sanatorium? A sanatorium is a special hospital to isolate people infected with tuberculosis. By 1925, there were more than five hundred sanatoriums with almost seven hundred thousand beds in the United States alone. In a sanatorium, patients were treated with good food, plenty of rest, and fresh air. Many even slept outside on covered porches.

Do we still have sanatoriums? Not in the United States. The last freestanding sanatorium, located in Lantana, Florida, was closed in 2012. You can read more about the hospital here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/13/health/13tuberculosis.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Is tuberculosis still a problem today? Yes! About one-and-a-half million people still die from tuberculosis each year. It remains an epidemic in much of the world, mainly in poorer countries. Another sobering fact is the development of multi-drug resistant strains of TB.

Where can I learn more about tuberculosis? One of my favorite non-fiction books about the disease is INVINCIBLE MICROBE: TUBERCULOSIS AND THE NEVER-ENDING SEARCH FOR A CURE by Jim Murphy and Alison Blank. (Clarion, 2012)

The School Library Journal says of the book, “Starting with the dramatic cover photo of a row of girls lying in their hospital beds, Murphy and Blank unwind the tangled history of tuberculosis, a disease that continues to kill millions every year…Readers will be surprised to learn that kings believed that a single touch of their hand would cure the peasants and that one of the more radical treatments for TB included removing multiple ribs from a patient’s chest. At times gruesome and somewhat somnolent when describing the peaceful sanatoriums, the book clearly details all the many unsuccessful attempts to cure this infectious disease.”

Another interesting resource is the diary of Fanny W. Midgett, who recorded her stay at Cragmont Sanatorium in North Carolina. http://www.ncgenweb.us/dare/miscellany/midgettfanniediary.html

What are you writing about now? Yet another novel. CAROLINA GIRLS is set in 1969 and also based on a family story. It’s about an accident, but touches on integration of the public school system and the first moonwalk.

Shannon Hitchcock has generously offered a giveaway–an Advanced Readers Copy (ARC) of The Ballad of Jessie Pearl to one lucky person.  Leave a comment or question with your email address (to contact winner) by March 28, 2013 and you’re entered.  The winner will be announced March 29, 2013.

Thanks for visiting “A Writer’s Playground.”  Please come again soon and bring a friend.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Martin Andersen

9 Responses to “Another Giveaway Winner: What Does Tuberculosis Have to Do With The Ballad of Jessie Pearl? Ask Shannon Hitchcock.”

  1. Hi Linda,
    Woot! Woot! Yay! Thank you, Linda and Shannon. I’m thrilled to win this book.
    What an awesome way to start my day!
    Linda, I’ll email you right away. 🙂
    Have a Blessed Easter,

  2. Good interview, Linda. How did Shannon end up choosing Namelo (Sp?) as her publisher and how were they to work with? I thought they mainly did editing/agenting kinds of deals. Thinking good thought for Scotty. Sarah

  3. Congrats, Tracy. You will enjoy!

  4. Hi Sarah, I met Stephen Roxburgh, President of namelos, at a Highlights Foundation Whole Novel Workshop. During the workshop, Stephen expressed interest in publishing The Ballad of Jessie Pearl, but indicated that it still needed work. In the months that followed, I revised twice for Stephen with no obligation on his part to actually publish, but I was thrilled to be receiving such guidance free of charge. For me the deciding factor was that I agreed with all of the changes Stephen suggested. We had the same vision for the book. I adore everyone on staff at namelos. Katya Rice is a superb copyeditor and Nancy Hogan who handles publicity and foreign rights is knowledgeable and responsive.

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