The chapter Lauretta Hannon is working on now for her upcoming book is about scars.
Hannon—a 43-year-old resident of Powder Springs who has enjoyed literary success following the 2009 release of The Cracker Queen: A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life—had a form of skin cancer years ago, causing a scar on her forearm.
People would tell her of cream that would reduce the scarring. “And I thought, ‘Why would I want to make it go away? It’s reminding me every day that I’ve been given some more opportunities here.’”
Such struggles and how they affect spiritual growth is the central theme of the book. With the working title Sermons for Twisted Sisters, it’s set to hit shelves sometime in 2014.
“If I had to sum up what the book is about,” Hannon said, “I'd refer to the quote by Auntie Mame: ‘Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death.’ My hope is that the new book will help show people how to get to the banquet.”
While Sermons will be somewhat of a continuation of Cracker Queen, Hannon assures that the two will have differences from cover to cover. She describes the first book as a “straightforward memoir with a self-help part in the back,” and, not wanting to give too much away, she says the new one will be “more of a spiritual memoir.”
Sermons will take readers to dark places—“it’s not going to be pretty all the way through”—but Hannon hopes the story will generate smiles, uplift thoughts, and enhance spirits.
“I’m no guru or cult leader or anything like that,” she explains, “but I know what has worked to give me a really happy, fulfilling life. And I’ve seen a lot of other folks who wish they were just as happy, so in a way, that’s what this book is about.”
A similarity between the two: “It still has the attitude of the Cracker Queen, which is, ‘We are warriors. We have wicked senses of humor.’ It’s kind of a battle cry as far as the spiritual nature of our lives.”
The Beginnings of a Queen
But as her following grew, the pseudonym uncontrollably latched on. “Instead of fighting it, I just said, ‘OK I’m the Cracker Queen.’”
Hannon’s first career job was as a science writer for the University of Georgia. She has since worked in advertising and other roles in higher education, including her current position in Atlanta Technical College’s student affairs department.
Her curriculum vitae also includes newspaper columnist, Georgia Public Radio and National Public Radio.
“The one common thing from all the jobs I’ve had is storytelling,” said Hannon, originally from Warner Robbins, Ga.
Before Cracker Queen, she had one book published: 2004’s Images of America: Powder Springs, a photo history of the city, which, when incorporated in 1838 as Springville, was Cobb County’s first.
Hannon’s passion for Powder Springs’ history quickly grew when she moved into a historical house on Atlanta Street near downtown. It’s the same house in which the great-grandmother of Hannon’s husband, Jim Kilgore, raised Kilgore’s mom.
Kilgore’s family moved out in 1939. But while he and Hannon were living in Lithia Springs in the early 2000s, the house went up for sale, and the couple jumped on the opportunity.
They have no sons or daughters, but Hannon said she does have kids: “Really, I consider my books as my children. It sounds kind of hokey, but they are. Those are my creations.”
Outside the house is a 12-by-12 shed, where, besides the occasional Waffle House trip, Hannon does much of her writing. And until she produces the Sermons manuscript around September, writing will continue to take up 15 hours of her weekends and one hour of each weekday.
Hannon plans to have a good chunk of material ready by Sept. 29, when, at 2 p.m., she’ll be doing a reading from Sermons at a fundraiser at and for the Marietta Museum of History.
The $10 admission includes access to the museum’s exhibits, reservations aren't required, and the first 20 guests will get a “special gift.”
Hannon is hoping the event will be well attended, but even if the crowd can be counted on one hand, she said she’ll be just as enthusiastic.
“I’m like James Brown,” she said, “I perform the same whether it’s two people or 200.”