Backcast—What The Critics Are Saying

by | Feb 18, 2017 | Awards, Books, Events

What Happens When Women Attending a Writer’s Retreat Enter a Tournament Bass Fishing Competition?

This unconventional novel of self-discovery and empowerment truly is Fried Green Tomatoes meets The Big Chill by way of A River Runs through It

ALL WOMEN HAVE hidden lives. In the process of grappling with the differences between perception and reality, they are sometimes empowered to discover who they really are.

In the newly published contemporary novel Backcast, author Ann McMan provides an irreverent and insightful look at the hidden lives of women and how they laugh, love, and blunder their way through their own searches for meaning.

This fast-paced comedy with a serious underbelly begins with sculptor and author Barb Davis receiving a coveted NEA grant to pair original feminist sculptures with searing first-person essays on transitions in women’s lives.

Accordingly, Barb organizes a two-week writing retreat on Vermont’s Lake Champlain with some of the best, brightest, and most notorious lesbian authors in the business. In between the lighthearted mayhem of regularly scheduled happy hours and writing sessions, the women conspire to enter a tournament bass fishing competition.

McMan explains, “In the process, they receive life coaching from a wise-cracking, two hundred-year-old bass named Phoebe, and uncover a subterranean world of secrets and desires.”

Backcast is richly populated with a cast of endearing and outrageous characters who battle writer’s block, quirky locals, personal demons, unexpected attractions, and each other during their two-week residency. The novel combines equal parts laugh-out-loud humor with breathtaking pathos.

Interspersed throughout the story are the women’s essays: surprisingly intimate, powerful, and profound. But it’s up to readers to determine who has written what. The stakes in this fast-moving story are high, but its emotional and romantic payoffs are slow and sweet.

“Women are so much more than what their public personas portray,” McMan explains. “If you peel back the layers of any woman, you will find the essential moments that shaped her life. Many of us share common stories, but few of us are able to speak openly and honestly about them. Backcast is a narrative for and about all women – lesbian, straight, and everyone in between or on either side.”

“Gossiping, bass fishing, wrestling matches, couples falling in love, and cathartic moments of self-knowledge. [Backcast is] a humorous take on writing and love.” —Library Journal

“Backcast is a memorable story about the unbreakable strength and resilience of women. Skillfully executed, the story is easy to become emotionally invested in, with characters that are guaranteed to entertain and enthrall.”Lambda Literary Review

Exceptional, entertaining, deftly crafted, inherently absorbing from beginning to end, Backcast is highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections.”Midwest Book Review

“Ann McMan did something so special with Backcast, that I’m not entirely sure how to talk about it. Part of me wants to be back in university so I can write an essay about how it handles storytelling and identity, and the rest of me just wants to tell you all to go read it now.”The Lesbian Review

“The characters on the pages of Backcast represent women of all ages and in all stages of life. They are as unambiguous as a well-organized tackle box, and it’s a privilege to “pier” into their lives.”Curve Magazine

“North Carolina author Ann McMan has a gift like few other authors: she knows how to blend comedy and sensitivity to human issues so seamlessly that reading her novels is like looking into the mirror—not only the one in your home but also the funny distorted ones we used to see in the Fun House. Funny, smart, informed, and very tender this is a superb novel of multiple levels of interpretation, Ann shows once again that she is not only a fine tale spinner, but also an excellent craftswoman as well!”Grady Harp, Amazon Vine Voice, Hall of Fame, Top 100 Reviewer

“One of the amazing aspects of the book is the way comedy and pathos work side by side and how wonderfully author McMan writes about them.”Reviews by Amos Lassen

“You see it has me enthralled. I have to read it again. I don’t have a choice. One reading simply isn’t enough to garner even a part of the richness and depth of these women and their interactions.”The Lesbian Reading Room

“I’ve said it before and I stand by this statement: Ann McMan writes serious and touching fiction. Yes, the woman is hilarious with great timing and wordsmithing but her ability to get to the souls of the characters and strip them bare is incredible.”C-Spot Reviews

“Backcast illustrates how interconnected we are as women and as human beings, and your heart will fill with compassion for all of its characters.”Les Read Out Loud

“One of the things that I admire about Ann McMan as an author is that she writes from a place that allows her to speak frankly and authoritatively regarding religion and LGBTQ issues.”Hands Across the Pond

“Ann McMan’s Backcast is smart, funny, unapologetic, and deeply moving—it’s the perfect story for the thinking, feeling, questing reader. I’m grateful to be the one to give voice to it.”Christine Williams, narrator, edition

Backcast by Ann McMan; Bywater Books; Fiction; Contemporary Lesbian; Paperback ISBN 978-1612940632 $14.95; eBook ISBN 978-1612940649 $12.95; Audiobook ASIN B017HYE6I8 $24.95

Available:,,,, and independent bookstores everywhere

Author: Ann McMan is the author of five previous novels, Jericho, Dust, Aftermath, Hoosier Daddy, and June Magee, R.N., Festival Nurse, and the short story collections Sidecar and Three. She is a recipient of the Alice B. Lavender Certificate for Outstanding Debut Novel and a two-time winner of the Golden Crown Literary Award for short story collections. Her novel Hoosier Daddy was a 2014 Lambda Literary Award finalist. She resides in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Publisher: Bywater Books is dedicated to excellence by publishing notable commercial fiction for lesbians and all readers. For more information about Bywater Books, please visit the website.

Awards: Backcast was awarded a silver medal in the Independent Book Publishing Awards (IPPYs) in the Northeast Region, which encompassed all genres of literature.

Salem West is the Publisher of Bywater Books and a member of the Lambda Literary Board of Trustees. She lives in Winston-Salem, NC with her wife, the author Ann McMan, their two dogs, two cats, and an exhaustive supply of vacuum cleaner bags.