By Jordan Beach 

Reinhardt’s professors offer their students a wide variety of expertise and inspiration with their years of knowledge and experience in their respective fields, and adjunct professors often provide unique perspectives as they work in their fields while teaching. 

Clay Anderson, author
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Clay Anderson, adjunct professor of history

Clay Anderson is a great example of this, serving as an adjunct history professor and continuing his education with Reinhardt’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. While teaching and learning more about the creative writing process, Anderson published his first fiction novel. 

For as long as he could remember, Anderson wanted to write a novel and tell stories, but never had the courage to sit down and right one—until now. 

“I had a story inside of me that needed to get out,” said Anderson. “I hope that it will help someone who is struggling with reconciling their past with their present.” 

In his novel, “The Palms,” Anderson writes of Ronnie and neighbors Clara and Mary, whose lives and stories intertwine in their Pensacola, Florida trailer park. 

“’The Palms’ is a redemptive narrative that weaves the stories and points of view of Ronnie, Clara and Mary. Sixty-eight-year-old Ronnie Wells has recently been paroled for a murder he committed 36 years before. Daily life for Ronnie changes when he befriends Mary, the 7-year-old girl who lives next door with her mother, Clara, a drug-addicted prostitute.” 

While “The Palms” is Anderson’s first novel, it is not his first published work. He has published scholarly essays, book reviews and short stories. Even as a published author, the publication of his novel still came as a surprise. 

“I was in absolute shock. I had to read and reread the email a dozen times before it finally sunk in. And honestly, it didn’t really register as real until I actually held the book in my hands. It was surreal.” 

When asked what he would tell his students who are interested in pursuing writing, he said that while the process wasn’t easy—especially being he wrote the entire first draft by hand—it was worth it. 

“The process of writing a book is a time-consuming labor of love. It involves countless hours of spilling one’s self onto the page. But, perhaps the most challenging part in the process is getting your book published; expect to get rejections and go through periods of self-doubt. Still, if you have a story that needs to be told, sit down and write it. Be willing to take the risk and pour yourself into your work.” 

Learn more about “The Palms” here