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Sheriff’s deputy Justin Everson loves his home town, St. Vincent, a tiny mill town on the Florida Gulf Coast. He patrols the same streets he grew up on, driving past a landscape that at once familiar and mysterious, simultaneously modern and primeval. Gripped in the wake of a national recession, the town is quickly becoming a place that Justin doesn’t even recognize.
But Everson is not well. Still mourning the death of his ex-wife and fighting insomnia, he lives in a fog, somewhere between reality and a dream. When former high school bully Donnie Ray Miles drowns after a night partying on the Apalachicola River, Everson suspects foul play. A good old boy who joined the Army in a fit of patriotism after 9/11, Miles came home from a truncated tour in Iraq, and no one seems to know why. Not the local gossips who say that Miles was drummed out for selling dope. Not his father, Big Don Miles. Not local troublemaker Jimmy Danley. And not the enigmatic Wayne Childress, a labor activist intent on unionizing the workers at a local fishery.
Even Sheriff Mack Weston puts Everson off the case, telling him that it’s open and shut. The county investigator threatens his job when he begins to ask questions. But Justin is seeing visions of the dead man and wondering why no one wants to answer his questions. After a run-in with a former high school crush, he devotes himself to finding out the truth about Donnie Ray Miles’ time in the Army and about what happened on the river the night he died. The truth will change forever the way he sees his hometown, a place he thought he knew.
Author Jeff Newberry Entertains Audience With Reading Of His Work – WUWF.org NPR for Florida’s Great Northwest
ABAC news story about the book:
In his stunning first novel, Newberry casts his hook into a shadowy mill town located along the sun-bright beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast. A Stairway to the Sea is an utterly enthralling page-turner from start to finish.
~Sîan Griffiths, author of Borrowed Horses
Jeff Newberry has staked his literary claim on the Florida Panhandle, painting a vivid picture of life–and death–on the Gulf. He sets a scene so vivid, you’ll swear you smell the salt air and taste the cheap beer. Newberry populates his landscape with fully realized characters who keep you turning the page as the drama unfolds. Bravo for this much welcome debut.
~Victor Gischler, Edgar and Anthony Nominated author of Gun Monkeys, The Deputy, and Stay
[Newberry’s writing is] an illuminating and pitch-perfectportrait of a region and a people. ~Skip Horack, author of The Eden Hunter and The Other Joseph
A native of the Florida Gulf Coast, Jeff Newberry is the Poet in Residence at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. The author of Brackish (Aldrich Press, 2012) and A Visible Sign (Finishing Line 2008), he is the co-editor (with Brent House) of The Gulf Stream: Poems of the Gulf Coast (Snake Nation Press, 2013).
Newberry’s writing has appeared in a variety of print and online journals, including Anti-, Birmingham Poetry Review, The Florida Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Cortland Review, Chattahoochee Review, New South, Memorious, Hobble Creek Review, Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Art, Sweet: A Literary Confection and Waccamaw: A Journal of Contemporary Literature, as well as in the online anthology Best of the Net 2008. His poetry has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He’s given talks and led panels at the Flannery O’Connor and Other Georgia Writers Conference, The Conference on Christianity and Literature, The Florida Literary Arts Coalition’s Other Words Conference, and the Gulf Coast Association of Creative Writing Teachers Conference. The recipient of a Tennessee Williams Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, he teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia, where he serves as faculty adviser for Pegasus, ABAC’s literary magazine.
Newberry earned his BA and MA in English from the University of West Florida in Pensacola, where as a graduate student he served as the managing editor of Panhandler. He holds a PhD from the University of Georgia, financed by a Faculty Development in Georgia Grant.
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