Comedy, compassion, thrills: Professor debuts novel

October 29, 2010

Ann Wertz GarvinAnn Wertz Garvin remembers the day in 2004 when her telephone rang. It was the Wisconsin Book Festival, letting her know she won second place in a 24-hour writing contest. Garvin, who had no experience in creative writing, said it was a moment of delight and disbelief.

Six years later, she’s debuting her first novel, “On Maggie’s Watch.”

“I love writing about funny characters that are a little bit sad,” Garvin said.

The novel’s protagonist is Maggie Finley, a woman who decides to leave a high-powered job and return to her Wisconsin hometown to have children.

Life hasn’t been easy for Maggie and her husband, and she’s determined to create a safe haven for her soon-to-be-born baby. After resurrecting the Neighborhood Watch program, Maggie sets her sights on a potential target: a neighbor whom she decides must be eradicated.

“I tell readers to think of Maggie as themselves, only a little less stable,” Garvin said. “In a moment of anger or fear, what would you do? Maggie is one of those silly characters who’s not strong enough to do something harmful.”

“On Maggie’s Watch” will make readers wonder: Who are villains in neighborhoods? What is a fearful situation? What do we make up in our own heads?

A nine-city book tour will take Garvin from the Midwest to California. The UW-Whitewater campus community can meet her at the Homecoming football game, Saturday, Oct. 30, where she will be signing copies of her book at Perkins Stadium from 10 a.m. to noon.

Garvin, a licensed nurse, is a professor in the Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Coaching at UW-Whitewater. She teaches courses in coaching, nutrition and current topics in health.

“On Maggie’s Watch,” published by Berkley Penguin, will be released Tuesday, Nov. 2.

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Sara Kuhl