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Author Robert Hawkins returns to alma mater for book signing event

Robert Hawkins HeadshotA successful author and proud Eagle alum is returning to Morehead State to speak to the campus community.

Robert Hawkins (Class of 1993) will visit MSU to discuss his book "A Book of Matches: The Life, Murder and Family of an Appalachian War Veteran" from 2 to 4 p.m. Monday, March 25, in the Athena Room on the second floor of the Camden-Carroll Library. The event is free to the public and complimentary refreshments are provided.

Originally from West Union, Ohio, Hawkins earned a Bachelor of Arts in University Studies from MSU. He became an independent recording artist, singer/songwriter, and touring musician. Currently living in Nashville, he toured with The Van-Dells and recorded albums with notable producers like Kent Wells (who worked with Dolly Parton), Dave Spak (who worked with Blake Shelton), and Dino Bradley (who worked with Hank Williams Jr.). Hawkins also set out to be an educator focusing on serving students with special needs and is currently training to be a Certified Academic Language Therapist to assist individuals with dyslexia and advanced reading difficulties.

Hawkins said his initial interest in writing in high school grew after attending MSU.

"Everyone in the English department was instrumental in sparking my interest to write," he said. "They were always telling me how much I would need to write in college to be successful in any field."

Book of Matches Book Cover"A Book of Matches: The Life, Murder and Family of an Appalachian War Veteran" is a historical memoir of a murder case in Peebles, Ohio, involving Oliver Elliott (or Zeke) Stayner, Hawkins' grandfather, who was killed Monday, November 28, 1949. With Hawkins' grandmother, Edith, and their two daughters, Susan and Dottie, as the primary characters, the Appalachian story takes place across The Great Depression and World War II into the present day, incorporating regional, national, and international history.

"The landmark case went to the State Supreme Court twice and was the first murder case to apply the death penalty by electric chair. This case has also been studied at Case Western Reserve Law School due to its historic significance," Hawkins said. "I knew it was a very compelling story and it was my job to give it my full attention and the respect it deserved to showcase all of the common people that performed extraordinary feats in this important time in our history."

Recently, Hawkins' book earned placement in The Smithsonian Institute's Affiliate, The Museum of Appalachia. He hopes to make the story into a historical documentary and eventually a screenplay in the hopes of being adapted into a feature film.

Christy A. Boggs, head of user services and liaison librarian with Camden-Carroll Library, said the novel is "perfect for fans of murder mysteries, Appalachian history, and court trials."

"This novel is a great example of the importance of remembering what occurred in our regional and local history to, not only retain our identities about our past, but to know where we are going as well," she said.

Hawkins said MSU is one of several stops he will make in the Bluegrass State as he discusses his work as an author and a musician, but it was an obvious choice.

"When we were knocking around the idea of coming back to MSU, it harkened back all of the memories of how much time I spent in the Camden-Carroll Library when I was trying to find myself," he said. "It is truly an honor."

Readers can purchase Hawkins' book from Coffee Tree Books in Morehead, the Jesse Stuart Foundation Gift Store and Book Shop and other online retailers.

You can learn more about Robert Hawkins by visiting

For more information on MSU’s Camden-Carroll Library, call 606-783-2200 or visit

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