Ruth Moose was only three years-old when she first tried her hand at writing.
“My grandfather was a Baptist preacher – tall, very charismatic. He baptized a lot of people, traveled across North Carolina and preached at various churches and revivals,” she said.
He left a sermon – in progress – on his writing table. Little Ruth came upon it and took her first baby steps toward what was to become her calling. Grabbing his pen (which contained real ink) she wrote all over his sermon. Needless to say, her literary debut was met with mixed reviews.
Ruth hasn’t stopped writing since (and she still prefers to write by hand). She has published two novels as well as numerous collections of short stories and poetry. Her work has appeared in Atlantic Monthly, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal and Our State magazine. She also served on the Creative Writing faculty at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill for 15 years where she inspired many students to become published authors themselves. View her bio.
“Though the mythical town is called Littleboro, people thought it was Pittsboro,” said Ruth. “So in the sequel I used some real Pittsboro places and events: S & T’s Soda Shoppe, Phoenix Bakery and the Chatham County Courthouse fire.“
“In ‘Wedding Bell Blues,’ readers thought the mayor Calista Moss (who is always so elegantly dressed) was based on Pittsboro Mayor Cindy Perry and Motel 3 in the book was the decaying motel across from Chatham Marketplace (formerly the Shady Rest Motel).” Ruth says there are groups who come to Pittsboro looking for Dixie Dew and other places.
Ruth also recently published a new collection of poetry, “Amaryllis,” named for a flower she describes as “absolute joy/perfection/holy. “
Ruth regularly teaches creative writing classes at Central Carolina Community College as well and offers workshops. Watch for details.
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Ruth grew up in Stanly County in the western part of the state where she was known by family and friends as a “bookworm.” She recalls her grandmother reading poems to her by Robert Louis Stevenson. “I taught myself to read at age four with poems,” said Ruth.
She met her husband-to-be, respected artist Talmadge Moose, on the Fourth of July in 1952 at a picnic near where she grew up. ”I was 17 and he was 22 and had more ambition than anyone I’d ever met,” Ruth wrote. They married after Ruth finished school (BA at Pfeiffer University and a Masters in Library Science at UNC-Greensboro).
When they moved to Stony Mountain in the Uwharrie Mountains, the two of them had side-by-side studios with equal square footage and floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out on woods and a small creek. They moved to Fearrington Village in 1996 when Ruth accepted the position at UNC.
Together they raised two sons who live in Albemarle, N.C. Ruth has four grandchildren, a great-grandson and two cats.
Though Talmadge died 13 years ago, he is still very present in Ruth’s life. Above the mantle in the heart of the home they shared, a large painting of his hangs. Beneath it, nestled just below the frame, is a row of books written by Ruth. (Paintings and books, in fact, warm nearly every room.) Two souls still connected by their creative spirits.
From the Artist
Full name: Miriam Ruth Morris Moose
I live: in Fearrington Village.
I knew I was a writer/poet when: I won a national essay contest. I was 12 at the time. I won a $25 savings bond and a stereoscope and my mother thought I was making up a story until my prizes came in the mail.
My favorite authors/poets are: too many to name but starting with Eudora Welty, Louisa May Alcott, Flannery O’Connor, Collette, Barbara Pym, Mary Oliver, Elizabeth Bishop, Kate Atkinson, Ruth Rendell and of course Doris Betts who was my first creative writing teacher.
Childhood memories: I had three younger brothers who were always doing sports. We had a big yard and all the boys in the neighborhood played there. There was no other girls close by. I had books, though I did help build and paint a club house which I made into a saloon with myself as Miss Kitty (from TV show Gunsmoke) or the lady sheriff, using the playhouse as a jail. Mostly I read. My brothers remember me often sitting high in an apple tree…reading.
Some jobs I’ve had are: microwave oven demonstrator, teller at the city hall water department, recipe tester for Betty Crocker, poetry-in-schools poet in North and South Carolina, reference librarian, workshop leader in poetry and/or short stories.
When I’m not writing, you’ll probably find me: reading, weeding or pruning in my small garden, volunteering with the Chatham County Historical Society, poking around PTA Thrift Shops or Second Bloom in Pittsboro. At a reading at McIntyre’s Books or Joyful Jewel or the library.
The craziest thing I ever did was: join a group from Edinburgh University for a summer program in Oxford where I studied Jane Austen and my husband painted with a group studying the Pre-Raphaelites. Or going with a group of 32 Presbyterians to Scotland. Or going to Greece for 3 weeks with different Presbyterians.
Next on my bucket list is: getting my short stories together. I have three unpublished collections and three of poetry. I would rather do almost anything than this, trying to make order, find a theme, pull together unrelated stuff and try to see a pattern of sorts. I’m a rather “patchwork quilt” of a writer, from non-fiction memoir pieces, to stark drama to “short trips” to the fantasy and darkish side.
On my bedside table you’ll find: short stories of Shirley Jackson (just finished her biography.) Poetry collections by friends, a novel manuscript from a 15 year-old son of a UNC colleague. (It’s fantastic! Sci-fi stuff beautifully written and I think it will publish.) Poem manuscript from a participant in the Gilbert Chappell Distinguished Poet Series where I am serving my second year in the program. It is an appointed position with the NC Poetry Society.
Most people don’t know: I am a “workshop” junkie. If I’m not teaching a workshop, I like taking one. You never stop learning. Writing demands always new skills as each new thing you try to create has a different set of problems to solve.
My favorite places to go in Chatham County are: the Blue Dot Coffee, Small B&B Cafe, my massage therapist Leah Ann Burke Krist, the Pittsboro post office, Chatham Marketplace, the Body Therapy Institute (I’m still mourning the closure.) the Belted Goat, Virlie’s Grill on a cold winter day for chilli, the Phoenix Bakery when I can longer resist their Boston Crème, Circle City Books, Chatham Habitat ReStore (one never knows what one can find there), Chatham Community Library, Natural Chef Café and anywhere or any event in Fearrington Village.
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