Melinda Clayton is the author of two series: The Cedar Hollow Series, which includes novels Appalachian Justice, Return to Crutcher Mountain, Entangled Thorns, and Shadow Days, and
The Tennessee Delta Series, which includes Blessed Are the Wholly Broken and the soon-to-be released Breaking the Fifth Commandment. Clayton also authored Making Amends, a novel of psychological suspense.
In addition to writing, Clayton has an Ed.D. in Special Education Administration and is a licensed psychotherapist in the states of Florida and Colorado.
The Cedar Hollow Series
“Billy May’s colloquial narration will draw readers in and make them feel like they are sitting vigil at her bedside as she discusses the injustices of her past. The tale [Clayton] weaves brings Cedar Hollow and its mountain to life in brilliant and horrifying color.” Library Journal
Billy May Platte is a half Irish, half Cherokee Appalachian woman who learned the hard way that 1940s West Virginia was no place to be different.
As Billy May explains, “We was sheltered in them hills. We didn’t know much of nothin’ about life outside of them mountains. I did not know the word lesbian; to us, gay meant havin’ fun and queer meant somethin’ strange.”
In 1945, when Billy May was fourteen years old and orphaned, three local boys witnessed an incident in which Billy May’s sexuality was called into question. Determined to teach her a lesson she would never forget, they orchestrated a brutal attack that changed the dynamics of the tiny coal mining village of Cedar Hollow, West Virginia forever.
Global Ebook Gold Medal Winner in 2013, a finalist for the University of North Carolina-Wilmington’s Synergy Program in 2013, and voted Sapphic Readers Book Club Book of the Year in 2011 (under a different imprint), Appalachian Justice is a work of southern fiction that delves into social issues such as poverty, domestic violence, misogyny, and sexual orientation. Ultimately, however, Appalachian Justice delivers a message of hope.
Return to Crutcher Mountain
As recounted in Appalachian Justice, Jessie is an adult survivor of horrendous childhood abuse. At the age of thirteen, she was rescued by reclusive mountain woman Billy May Platte.
Now forty-seven, Jessie is outwardly successful but inwardly struggles to reconcile the broken pieces of her past. In honor of Billy May, Jessie has offered Crutcher Mountain as a location to build the Platte Lodge for Children, a wilderness retreat and respite program designed for children with disabilities. Everything comes together beautifully until a series of strange events threatens to shut down the retreat.
To save the lodge, Jessie must open her heart to the truths she discovers and place her trust in a lonely little boy.
Beth Sloan has spent the majority of her life trying to escape the memories of a difficult childhood. Born into the infamous Pritchett family of Cedar Hollow, West Virginia, she grew up hard, surrounded not only by homemade stills and corn liquor, but by an impoverished family that more often than not preferred life on the wrong side of the law.
After the mysterious death of her brother Luke at the age of thirteen, seventeen year old Beth and her younger sister Naomi ran away from home, never to return. As the years passed, Beth suppressed the painful memories and managed to create a comfortable, if troubled, life with her husband Mark and their two children in an upscale suburb outside of Memphis, Tennessee. But the arrival of an unwelcome letter threatens to change all that.
Against her better judgment, and at the urging of her sister Naomi, Beth agrees to return to Cedar Hollow, to the memories she’s worked so hard to forget. When old resentments and family secrets are awakened, Beth must risk everything to face the truth about what really happened to Luke that long ago summer night.
On the anniversary of her husband’s death, forty-nine-year-old Emily Holt runs away, leaving an unmade bed, an unlocked house, two college-aged sons, and an overabundance of bad memories.
Struggling to make peace with the death of a husband who’d been lost to mental illness, she vows to drive to the end of the road, which, she’s surprised to find, is just outside the tiny mining town of Cedar Hollow, West Virginia.
As Emily struggles to redefine and rediscover herself, the good folks of Cedar Hollow are more than happy to help.
Blessed Are the Wholly Broken
“Clayton writes with a raw immediacy, and the multiple narratives satisfyingly converge to create an intense and compelling atmosphere.” Publishers Weekly
Blessed Are the Wholly Broken is the harrowing story of a modern family in the midst of self-destruction.
After the heartbreak of losing their newborn son to a previously undiagnosed genetic condition, Phillip and Anna Lewinsky manage to pick up the pieces of their broken lives and move forward, filling the emptiness with friends, work, and travel.
When Anna unexpectedly finds herself pregnant again at the age of forty-three, Phillip is thrilled to have a second chance at fatherhood in spite of Anna’s objections. But the scars from their long-buried grief run deep, and as desires clash, misunderstandings abound, and decisions are irrevocably made, the fractured foundation of their marriage begins to crumble until only tragedy remains.
“An extraordinary story of impressive complexity, “Making Amends” is a fully absorbing read from beginning to end and showcases author Melinda Clayton as an exceptionally talented and original novelist.” Midwest Book Review
On a beautiful fall evening, in the middle of a game of hide-and-seek, five-year-old Bobby Clark is kidnapped by his estranged father, a shiftless man with a history of domestic violence and drug abuse. Bobby’s twin brother Ricky watches, terrified, from his hiding place behind the bougainvillea, while mother Tabby, who also struggles with addiction, lies inebriated on the living room floor.
Bobby isn’t seen by his loved ones again until a fateful morning twenty-five years later, when video of his arrest dominates the morning news. He has been charged with the murder of his father, but before the trial can begin, he manages to escape.
As Tabby and Ricky absorb the news of Bobby’s return and subsequent escape, Tabby is convinced he’ll come home to the quiet Florida street from which he was taken so long ago. But when events begin to spiral out of control, she’s left to wonder: is a child born to be evil, or shaped to be evil? And in the end, when it’s time to make amends, does it really matter?