Written by Meghan E. Gattignolo
Autumn is the perfect time to dive into a thrilling historical mystery novel written by… your music teacher?
Dr. Sharon Mabry announced her retirement from Austin Peay State University as a professor in the music department last spring. Her astounding 52 years at APSU are unprecedented — Mabry was the longest-running personnel employed at the university. So, what is her first act of retirement? Publish her novel, of course.
Sharon Mabry and her husband George both began working at Austin Peay in 1970 after hearing of the university’s need for professors in the music department. The department was small then, but the Mabrys worked enthusiastically to build it into a prestigious and well-rounded music program that drew students from across the country. As a vocal teacher and a performer herself, Sharon has won several awards, including Austin Peay’s most prestigious Richard M. Hawkins Award for creativity.
Sharon and George Mabry at the concert hall naming ceremony
Courtesy of APSU
The Mabrys were honored for their contributions to the school in 2011, when to their surprise, the auditorium in the Music/Mass Communication Building was named in their honor. Austin Peay regularly hosts public concerts and events in the George and Sharon Mabry Concert Hall, such as Dr. David Steinquest’s famous Halloween Percussion Ensemble Concert and performances by The Gateway Chamber Orchestra.
While The Postmaster’s Daughter may be Mabry’s first novel, this is not her first foray into the world of publishing. During her long career as a music and vocal professor, Mabry has published Exploring Twentieth-Century Vocal Music and The Performing Life: A Singer’s Guide to Survival. Last month, Mabry told The Leaf-Chronicle how she has always loved writing.
“During all the years that I was performing, traveling all over the country, I would always take a journal with me,” Mabry said. “In the downtimes, just to distract myself and not worry about the upcoming performance, I would write.” Her upcoming novel is a long time coming. Mabry had been working on her story for years before her friend and Clarksville-Montgomery County Arts & Heritage Development Council president Ellen Kanervo invited her to join a local writer’s group. It was Kanervo who encouraged Mabry to publish.
Courtesy of APSU
The Postmaster’s Daughter is a murder mystery set in Depression-era Appalachia, based on a community Mabry was familiar with growing up. Reviews are abundant and full of high praise already for this book which is set for release on October 20, 2022 by Thorncraft Publishing, a local publishing house. By all accounts, it is a twisty and delightful read, full of southern charm and artful storytelling. Check out what reviewers on Goodreads have to say.
The 1898 Federal Building section of the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center started as a post office, so it is a fitting place to host a book-signing event for The Postmaster’s Daughter. From 1-3 pm on Saturday, October 22, see Sharon Mabry read from her debut novel and purchase a copy for $20 in Seasons: The Museum Store. Don’t miss a chance to experience the most talked about up-and-coming author in Clarksville!
The Record: Sharon Mabry retires after a historic 52 years (apsu.edu)
Retired APSU music professor Sharon Mabry publishes her first book. (theleafchronicle.com)
Meghan E. Gattignolo
Meghan E. Gattignolo is a freelance writer and longtime Clarksville, TN resident. She loves to obsess about historical subjects and annoy her family daily with unsolicited random facts. Meghan holds a History B.A. from Austin Peay State University and lives in town with her husband and two daughters.
Becky Wood, Technical Writer, edits each blog post. Maegan Collins, Marketing Communications Manager, prepares the photographs, visual images and blog posts for the web.