Experiences as a Reporter Inspire Author’s First Novel
An idealistic young reporter risks her life to expose corruption in a small town in Digging, the first novel by author Lu Anne Stewart. In shaping the book, Stewart drew on her own memories of working as a newspaper reporter and editor in the late 1970s.
“I wanted to capture the spirit of a small-town newsroom in that era, just a few years after investigative journalists exposed the Watergate scandal,” Stewart said. “There was a strong sense of idealism and purpose among all of the reporters I worked with in those days, a sense that we were on a noble mission, holding the powers-that-be accountable.”
While Digging is a work of fiction, Stewart has infused it with the grit, emotion and high-stakes drama of real life. The main character, Meg Sullivan, is fresh out of journalism school and arrives in the fictional town of West Wicklow, Rhode Island, for her first newspaper job. While covering a mysterious series of textile mill fires, she begins to suspect that there is more smoldering beneath the surface of this sleepy New England town than meets the eye.
Digging follows Meg’s journey as she doggedly probes the fires and rattles the town’s business and political leaders. The novel’s fast-paced action keeps the reader turning the page as the young journalist is confronted with unexpected twists and harrowing developments. Meg is joined in her cause by Eric Fields, a young community activist trying to help the marginalized local residents endangered by the fires. Together, they struggle to find the truth, stay alive and navigate their first experience with love.
“Meg’s story reflects the obstacles young women faced in the workforce in that time, when hard-nosed investigative reporting was still a male-dominated field,” Stewart said. “But Digging is also a coming-of-age story, one that reflects the challenges young adults in every era face as they enter the working world for the first time, search for their true calling and try to find their own voice.”
While Digging is set in the 1970s, it also reverberates with contemporary hot-button issues of freedom of the press and charges of “fake news.” Readers will find echoes of today’s media environment in Meg’s experiences as town leaders accuse her of sensationalizing and making things up.
“As readers, we walk in Meg’s shoes, seeing what’s in her mind and heart every step of the way and what motivates her choices,” Stewart said. “With that insight, I hope the book can offer readers a way to look at today’s journalists through a different lens.”
Currently, Stewart is working on her second novel, entitled A Generous Woman. Raised in the Philadelphia area, she lived in Rhode Island for 20 years and resides in Tampa, Florida, with her photographer husband, Richard. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Print and e-versions of Digging can be found at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com as well as other online and bricks and mortar stores wherever books are sold. Information about the book and the author can also be found at the publisher’s website: www.fatdogbooks.com