There are elements in many of Julia McDermott’s novels and short stories that can be traced back to events in her own life.

That fact is well illustrated in the Brookhaven resident’s newest short story, “The Riverfest,” which is included in “Down to the River,” the crime stories anthology book edited by Tim O’Mara and released in April.

The book is published by Down and Out Books, a Tampa-based publishing company specializing in fictional mystery and crime-related books. It is available through for $14.76 and in bookstores for $15.95. Proceeds of the book will go to American Rivers, a Washington-based organization that educates the nation on its rivers.

McDermott, who has written four books, was the finalist for the Georgia Author of the Year Award for her 2015 memoir, “All of the Above: My Son’s Battle with Brain Cancer,” published the previous year.

For this honor there is both an award winner and a finalist selected, and her book was actually selected as the lone finalist that year over former President Jimmy Carter’s autobiography, “A Full Life.” Gautam Narula’s “Remain Free” won the award.

According to Georgia Author of the Year judge Iraj Omidvar, McDermott’s book concerning her son Jack “is replete with powerful dialogues and descriptions that bring to life the circumstances leading to, as well as the significance of, each of the often life-and-death decisions involved in fighting brain cancer.”

“The Riverfest” is one of about 20 such crime or mystery-related stories, with all of them taking place in communities that are near rivers in the U.S. McDermott’s fictional story takes place in Wichita, Kansas, near the Arkansas River, where she actually lived from 1995-2000.

“The story deals with a family which moves from Atlanta to Wichita but, unbeknownst to them because they were never told, the area was being plagued by a serial killer,” she said.

Her short story gets its title from a community state fair event this family attended after moving there and where this serial killer emerged.

“I won’t tell any more about the story from this point, but the family finally finds out about the serial killer and what happens afterward,” McDermott said.

Even though her story is fictional, there was an actual serial killer in Wichita when McDermott actually lived there. However, she said her story is not based on or has any connection with that serial killer case.

“It took me about a month to write the short story,” she said. “I got the idea when I saw a photo of a snowstorm in Kansas, which reminded me of when I lived there.”

Although she is still waiting on confirmation, McDermott is scheduled to have a book signing event Sept. 28 from noon to 5 p.m. at the Alpharetta Library for “Down to the River.”

For more information on McDermott and her books, visit


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