“We polled volunteers and book clubs and people love her,” said Ann Hortman, volunteer event coordinator for the fund- raiser.
Jackson is the author of four best selling novels, “gods in Alabama,” “Between, Georgia,” “The Girl Who Stopped Swimming” and “Backseat Saints.”
Jackson said she was drawn to the fund-raiser because of the amazing work the clinic does in the community.
“I am very much attracted to organizations that are at work in their communities,” Jackson said. “I don’t like faceless organizations. I have been in positions in my life where I needed help and that help came from someone who was connected to me in that community.”
The evening, dubbed “Sinners & Saints — an evening with Joshilyn Jackson, benefiting the Free Clinic of Rome” will be on Sept. 15 at the historic DeSoto Theatre beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and include dinner, drinks and entertainment.
Barbara Earle, director of the clinic located at 315 West 10th Street, said the clinic serves uninsured residents of Floyd, Polk and Chattooga County and the funds raised will go to direct support of the clinic. The Free Clinic of Rome has existed since 2003 and is a volunteer effort.
The clinic provides basic health services to eligible patients, treatment for some chronic medical conditions including diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol management.
Patients are seen on an appointment-only basis. Those patients can be adults or children as long as they have no insurance and meet the income eligibility guidelines.
The clinic also provides limited dental services (extractions only).
Earle said the office has a lot of overhead and serves about 75 to 80 patients a week.
“Any money raised goes a long way,” she said.
Last year’s fund-raiser featuring author Lauretta Hannon, raised $15,000 and this year’s benefit is poised to match that.
“We have had a lot of interest,” she said.
Jackson describes her characters as flawed people with untidy lives.
“They have made less than perfect choices,” Jackson said.
Her discussion Thursday will center around what are arguably two of her most popular books, her debut novel “gods in Alabama,” and her latest “Backseat Saints.”
The two novels are companion pieces that center around the secrets and pasts of two Alabama women who fled their homes, each for their own mysterious reasons.
But Jackson is clear, while the two novels relate they are not sequels.
“I feel if you make it through on of my books and you arrive at a place of hope and peace, you deserve to be left alone,” Jackson said.
But when a minor character from “gods in Alabama,” wouldn’t leave her head she knew she had to tell another side to that story.
The writing process on “Backseat Saints” was a bit difficult at first, Jackson said.
“I had to figure out the logistics of it. The stories occur in the same two week time frame,” she said.
She had to write two perspectives from the same scene without spoiling the previous novel “gods in Alabama.”
“I started with the same basis, but the scenes were different because both characters are lying to each other,” she said.
Jackson said her stories often start with a germ of an idea that stays with her for years.
“The longest I have thought about a character is 18 years, the shortest is six,” she said. “That’s not really a very efficient way to do things.”
But Jackson’s well-developed characters and rich, lifelike plots are what have kept readers coming back.
“A lot of my characters have found themselves as mothers in unconventional ways. I think I ask what it means to become a mother. It is more than just the act of giving birth. It is more than biological,” she said. “And the big question is does love win? It is so frail and so week but so real.”
Tickets for the event are available at the Rome Visitor Center, 402 Civic Center Drive or by calling the Free Clinic 706-234-1331.
Visit online at freeclinicofromega.org for additional information about the Rome Free Clinic.