Morkan’s Quarry: A Novel
Morkan’s Quarry: A Novel by Steve Yates
Read about Yates’ sequel to Morkan’s Quarry, The Teeth of the Souls here.
“With the epic sweep of Cold Mountain and the rich, tender character and scene development of Snow Falling on Cedars, Steve Yates has written one of the most powerful war novels of modern times, swift as a battle, unforgettable, and a tribute to all those whose loyalty to place has surmounted loyalty to cause.”
—Donald Harrington, author of Ekaterina and Farther Along.
When editors in New York and elsewhere rejected Steve Yates’s Civil War novel manuscript, the blunt ones told him something about the publisher he needed to find. “When editors were awfully close to publishing the book, many said, roughly, ‘We fear this book has to start with strong marketing in the Ozarks. And, really, we just don’t know enough about the region,’” Yates says. The novel, Morkan’s Quarry, had twice been agented in New York, and portions of it appeared in Missouri Review, Ontario Review, and South Carolina Review. Yates, a Springfield, Missouri native, had received a literary fellowship for his work from the Arkansas Arts Council and two from the Mississippi Arts Commission. “That’s extremely rare for want-to-be novelist, and I am super lucky to have had feedback rather than form rejection letters from agents and editors,” Yates says. “But I was stuck. No press existed with a mission to publish literary novels, let alone Civil War novels, set in the Missouri Ozarks.” Enter Moon City Press. As a new publishing house sponsored by the English Department at Missouri State University, we offer series in “Arts and Letters” and “Ozarks History and Culture,” and proudly features collaborations between students and faculty over the various aspects of book publication: research, writing, editing, layout, and design.
In the novel, a Springfield quarry owner, Michael Morkan, is coerced into giving up the mine’s black powder to Sterling Price and the Confederate Missouri State Guard. Labeled as a traitor and Southern sympathizer, Morkan is imprisoned in St. Louis and torn from his beloved Cora Slade and his son, Leighton. His son must fight to regain his father, keep the quarry, and save the name, Morkan. While generals from both sides and even bushwhackers such as William Clarke Quantrill make appearances in Morkan’s Quarry, the novel’s heroes are preachers, tailors, nurses, and limestone miners.
“A great number of people in the Ozarks didn’t want to have anything to do with the war, wanted to be left alone to their work,” Yates says. “I wanted to portray that threatened middle ground that no one writes about, those real people, business owners, hard working people caught in a maelstrom.”
Steve Yates was born and raised in Springfield, and graduated from the University of Arkansas program in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in TriQuarterly, Southwest Review, Western Humanities Review, and many other journals. He lives in Flowood, Mississippi, and is assistant director / marketing director at University Press of Mississippi in Jackson.