Auburn News

AU Associate Professor Emerita, Mary Helen Brown, releases debut novel

In 2012, Mary Helen Brown sat at Pebble Hill’s dining room table with nothing but a pen and a few composition notebooks.

Those notebooks have been transformed into Brown’s debut novel “Headed for Home,” and on Friday, July 1st she returned to Pebble Hill for her book release party to share an excerpt with fans and sign copies.

"Headed for Home" is Mary Helen Brown's first novel.

“Headed for Home” is Mary Helen Brown’s first novel.

Set in the fictional town of Rowja, Texas, Brown’s story unfolds through the eyes of the young narrator, Speedy. When Speedy’s sister and her friends decide to investigate the history of Rowja as a summer school project, they have no idea the journey that awaits them. Through the events of one hot Texas summer, readers quickly get a taste of Southern, small-town life.

Although “Headed for Home” is a fictional story, many of the events, places and people are inspired by the stories of Brown’s family and friends. Brown grew up in Center, Texas where her interest in storytelling began.

“My family is full of these outrageous people who had these outrageous stories to tell,” Brown said. “That’s where it all started. When my grandfather would tell stories, he would stop and ask, ‘And then what happened?’ and I was supposed to finish it.”

Brown taught in Auburn University’s College of Liberal Arts for 34 years. She served as the Chair of the Department of Communication and Journalism for 10 of those years, and she just retired in May 2016.

Brown said she instantly felt a sense of home in Auburn due to the gracious amount of blooming azaleas and warm-hearted people. Her favorite class to teach was Storytelling.

Brown said she will continue to write novels as long as “Speedy keeps talking.”

You can find the Solomon and George publication “Headed for Home” at The Gnu’s Room in Opelika and on Amazon.

For more information about Brown or “Headed for Home” please visit