Arts Literature

Book Feature: Outbound Train

Book Feature: Outbound TrainRenea Winchester, Author

Renea Winchester credits her writing career to meeting Wilma Dykeman years ago. “She looked at me with that piercing gaze she was known for and told me in no uncertain terms that NC needed more women authors,” Winchester says. Winchester’s debut novel Outbound Train is set in her hometown of Bryson City in the 1970s and centers on strong female characters.

Worrying over setting her novel in an actual place she knew well, she first chose a fictional town for her story of Barbara Parker and her teenaged daughter Carole Anne, who goes missing. She found, however, that she couldn’t connect to the story. “Readers are perceptive and can’t be fooled when an author tries to force a story or a character to do her bidding,” Winchester says. She found direction one day when her attention was drawn to a trailer park. “Looking closer, I saw a young girl’s face pressed against the window glass—my Carole Anne daring me to see past where she lived and tell the story of who she could be,” she says.

As with many authors, plans for publicity for her book were disrupted by the pandemic. “The joy I felt releasing my debut novel quickly became despair,” she says. She created a group of readers on Facebook, many of whom she has never met, who post on social media and recommend the book for their book clubs. “Their support breathes life into my novel and gives me a reason to keep writing,” she says.

Outbound Train, March, 2020, fiction, paperback, $14.99, by Renea Winchester, and published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, Birmingham, AL. Support Indie bookstores by ordering at or visit the author’s website at

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