Caitlin Hamilton Summie has been writing fiction since she was a child. Between then and the publication of her first book, she’s built a successful marketing business, started a family and put down roots in Farragut.
Her book of short stories, “To Lay to Rest Our Ghosts,” was published by Fomite Press in fall 2017. Since then, reader recommendations and enthusiastic reviews have kept buzz going about the literary collection. Extra attention came to the book when it won the Phillip H. McMath Post Publication Book Award, given annually to a piece of literary fiction. Hamilton Summie had a recent reading at Union Avenue Books in downtown Knoxville and has also spoken to local book clubs and at local libraries.
From writing the first story to the publication of the book, she says, was about 25 years of “happy interruptions.” Those included establishing her own business, Caitlin Hamilton Marketing & Publicity, in 2003. In that business, she works with authors and publishing houses on marketing their books.
After graduating from Smith College, where she studied Middle Eastern history, she began working in an editorial position at a publishing house in New York City. She moved to Denver, where she earned a master’s degree in writing at Colorado State University. She was courted by Colorado-based literary publisher MacMurray & Beck to become the firm’s marketing director. She insisted she knew only editorial. The firm’s principals insisted she was right for the job. She borrowed a friend’s college marketing textbook, and a thriving vocation was born. After the publisher shuttered, she was still in demand for her expertise.
Most people in the business didn’t know she wrote before “To Lay to Rest Our Ghosts” was published, Hamilton Summie says.
“Even now I try to really limit those references” in conversations with her authors, she says, keeping the focus on them.
“I love guiding authors in their careers, and I love telling people about new books,” she says.
Her husband, Rick Summie, came on as co-owner of the business in 2010. He has a background in sports marketing.
The couple have two children, 11 and 12, who are involved in lots of activities, from baseball to Knoxville Children’s Theatre. Having moved many times in years past, Hamilton Summie – who grew up in Minnesota and Massachusetts – says Farragut is her last stop. Her own parents have also settled here.
She has a middle-grade novel in progress and a draft of another work featuring some of the characters from her short-story collection.
Writing, she says, “is something I fit in around work and life. I’ve learned to trust my process. I try to teach my kids that you live life in gratitude.”
When she launched the book, she did so at Honeybee Coffee in Farragut, with her mom, dad, husband and kids at her side.
“It was worth waiting for,” she says. “I’m where I’m supposed to be.”