On Wednesday,  March 6, renowned author S.A. Cosby read an excerpt from his crime novel “All the Sinners Bleed” in Thompson Recital Hall. This was a Field Writing Series event, co-sponsored by the Kelly Writers series and the Putnam County Library. The audience was packed with English Literature students and professors from the department. Cosby captivated us all with the prologue and first chapter of his book, an expression of his love for storytelling and writing. The author has been practicing his craft from the age of seven, and realized his affinity for crime fiction through experimentation with a variety of genres. He feels that writing is what he is meant to do and draws inspiration from his own life experiences and encounters to weave stories.

Cosby was supported by his mother from the time that he started writing, and he aspires to evoke the same sense of wonderment that she had from his audience. His wife, Kimberly, has also been a rock for him throughout his career, pushing him to take opportunities. A mixture of this support and raw talent brought Cosby to fame and won him many awards as well. Blacktop Wasteland received accolades including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and a nomination for the Goodreads Choice Awards. Razorblade Tears won the Hammett Prize and the ITW Award in multiple categories. 

Cosby writes crime fiction set in the Deep South, or “Southern noir” as he calls it. He currently resides in Virginia and was also born and raised there. Basing his stories in southern states allows Cosby to incorporate personal knowledge into characters and plotlines. He aims to dispute stereotypes of the absence of crime in smaller US states and portray the realities of intersectionality in the region. Inspired by Bruce Springsteen, the action consists of shootouts, fast cars, and bar fights interlaced with representing poverty, racism, and discrimination. Cosby stated that he writes in “a semi-timeless way because all the issues touched on remain prominent no matter when the book is published.” 

In describing his writing process, Cosby mentioned that he first writes synopses for groups of chapters and then individually fleshes them out. He doesn’t believe in writing multiple drafts but likes to go over a finished story from the perspective of a reader to review it. He also appreciates feedback from his friends, who look at the novel from a different view, and his agent, who provides criticism for revision. Most significantly, Cosby said that “writers are a part of a long tradition of mythmakers and storytellers,” and “books, words, and stories have the power to change the world.”

Cosby has a strong conviction that “you have to be born a writer” and “take a chance on yourself” to realize your full potential. Always a reader first, though, he lists some of his favorite books as Red Dragon, Darkness Take My Hand, The Secret History, and A Thousand Acres. His love for stories and storytelling is inspiring for many, and his words bring to light the sheer power of a writer.