Beginning with Cannonballs Final Cover

Winner of the 2021 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) Silver Medal for Multicultural Fiction. 


“Coupe employs short sentences that pack a punch . . . in the tradition of Southern writers like Flannery O’Connor and Harper Lee . . . She lays bare each character’s truths, allowing the reader to piece them together. . . The novel is a testament to the importance of connection and empathy, and feels both timely and timeless in today’s fraught social climate.” Jessica Crandall, Necessary Fiction. Read the entire review HERE. 

Beginning with Cannonballs tracks the ups and downs of an interracial friendship in the Jim Crow South. . . . Written in clear, direct prose and told in brief chapters, this novel is episodic but cohesive. . . a hopeful account of a friendship across time.”  Suzanne Kamata, Foreword Clarion Reviews. Read this four-star review HERE.

“And some find hope in a book. . . Two thumbs up for Jill McCroskey Coupe and Beginning with Cannonballs, a wise novel much needed in a time of fear and foolishness.” Jeff Minick, Smoky Mountain Living. Read the review HERE.

“Like Eudora Welty, . . . Coupe writes in a sparse, accessible style that looks so easy, but transmits so much. Her dialogue is nuanced and authentic. . . . A diamond of a book.”  Scott Archer Jones, author of A Rising Tide of People Swept Away and And Throw Away the Skins.

“Coupe’s direct, accessible sentences combine with her depiction of complex relationships and the inevitable tragedies of life to make this a highly readable story.”  Lynn Goodwin, Story Circle Book Reviews. Read the review HERE.

“This timely novel is exquisitely crafted. . . .  A fine tale in the hands of a confident and practiced artist.” Maine Light Keeper

“Through the years . . . Gail strives to maintain contact with Hanna and to reignite their childhood closeness, but the divide between them may be too wide to bridge. The themes of race, friendship, and possible reconciliation are what call to me here.” Posted on Beth Fish Reads, 22 May 2020.

” . . .  two intelligent women working through the barriers of white privilege, racism, and their own demons to see through the eyes of their oldest friend.”  Pamela Schoenewaldt, Historical Novels Review. Read the review HERE.

Beginning with Cannonballs . . . takes on important and timeless issues of race, racism, and cultural shifts in America.”  Jaclyn Bauer, Centered on Books blog.

“Coupe has written a beautiful paean to a lifelong friendship that starts in innocence, suffers, and is found again despite the forces that try so hard to break it.” Read this review posted in Library Thing HERE.

“This lyric novel is a gorgeous mosaic, fragmented in a way that lets the reader into the gaps in order to complete the meaning, to connect the narrative dots. Beginning with Cannonballs reminds me of an Alice Munro story, one that looks at people’s lives over decades, like catching them in snapshots, so we can see how they relate to the people they once were. Jill McCroskey Coupe is one savvy, irresistible, and fearless writer.”  John Dufresne, author of I Don’t Like Where This Is Going 

“Beginning with Cannonballs spans fifty years in a poignant yet difficult friendship. Through each episode, each explosive cannonball, the novel takes an unstinting and courageous look at how societal forces can seek to destroy the truth that lies beneath the surface of our skin: that we are all sisters and brothers at heart.”  J.E. Irvin, author of The Dark End of the Rainbow and The Strange Disappearance of Rose Stone 

“Jill McCroskey Coupe’s compelling story of an unlikely friendship in the segregated South is unforgettable. Hanna and Gail’s struggle to defy the odds of racism and social status is truly one of hope. Such lovely and deft writing from a masterful storyteller. A must-read.”  Kim Bradley,  author of Spillway 

“As little girls doing cannonballs off a diving board, Hanna and Gail produce big splashes. A number of minor characters, just by showing up, do the same. The ripple effects make this powerful and perceptive novel an engrossing read.”  Joan Zelinka, MLA, MSW, former medical social worker at the Johns Hopkins Health System.


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Winner of the 2017 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) Gold Medal for Regional Fiction, South. To order a copy of True Stories at the Smoky View or to find an Independent bookstore, please click on an icon below. 


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REVIEWS for True Stories at the Smoky View:

“What’s better than discovering a wonderful debut author? Discovering a wonderful local debut author. With True Stories at the Smoky View, Jill McCroskey Coupe, a former Johns Hopkins University librarian, delivers an offbeat tale of justice, happenstance, and the power of story.” To read The Ivy Bookshop‘s review by Rebecca Oppenheimer, please click HERE.

“You’ve got to love a novel whose protagonist is an emotionally adrift art librarian turned kidnapper and detective.” Read Paula Martinac’s review from Story Circle Book Reviews by clicking HERE.

And from Library Journal: “There is something for everyone in this light/dark Southern novel by a writer to watch.”

And from Booklist: “This debut author has a knack for storytelling and great characters.”

“Coupe has created fully human characters, with all their virtues and flaws.” Jeff Minick’s full review in Smoky Mountain News is available HERE.


On October 15, 2022, the Poultney Museum of History and Art in Vermont hosted Jill for a book-signing.

Jill M Coupe Oct 15

July 9, 2019, reading in Taos, NM.

Taos Reading 2019

Yes, that’s True Stories at the Smoky View, on display at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2018 (just below the bottom left corner of the large IBPA sign).

Frankfurt Book Fair

Jill feels honored to have participated in this reading series moderated by Jen Michalski, on November 18, 2017. Also reading were Christopher Doyle, Lindsay Fleming, and Michelle Junot.

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On July 29, 2017, Jill signed copies of her book at Greetings & Readings.

Pictured below are the July 2017 participants in a 5-day writing workshop in Taos, NM. Left to right: John Dufresne (workshop leader), Cully Perlman, Karen Kravit, Teddy Jones, Jill Coupe, David Norman, Peter Stravlo, and Jim Bob Jones. Photo by Garry Kravit.

Taos 2017 by Garry Kravit

On May 30, 2017, escorted by her son, Jill attended the Independent Publisher Book Awards ceremony in New York, where she received her first gold medal in anything, ever.

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On October 22, 2016, Jill enjoyed signing books along with other local authors at Words & Wine, a fundraiser sponsored by Friends of the Catonsville Public Library, in Catonsville, MD.

Reading at The Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore on Sept. 22, 2016, featuring John Dufresne and Jill McCroskey Coupe:


She Writes Press reading at One More Page Books in Arlington, VA, on May 20, 2016. Left to right: Dorit Sasson, Melissa Rea, Jill McCroskey Coupe, Donna Wilk Cardillo: OneMorePageBooksReading

Baltimore’s CityLit Festival on April 16, 2016. Left to right: Cherrie Woods, Garine Isassi, and Jill in her favorite shirt: CityLitreading