Louise Shivers was born in Stantonsburg and raised in Wilson, both small tobacco-farming communities in eastern North Carolina that are much like the fictitious Tarborough in Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail.
After studying one year at Meredith College in Raleigh, Louise married Quentin Shivers when she was nineteen. In the next four years, she gave birth to three children. When Quentin took a job with IBM, the family moved to Augusta, Georgia. Encouraged by her daughters, Louise signed up for a creative writing class sponsored by the local YWCA when she was forty.
In 1979, Louise submitted part of what would become Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail to the Sandhills Writers Conference at Augusta College. After reading the selection, visiting author Mary Gordon encouraged Louise to expand it. It was two years before Louise felt she was ready to show her novel to Gordon. After reading the manuscript, Gordon sent the work to her agent, who in turn sent it to Random House. Anne Freedgood, an editor at Random House, believed in the book and gave Louise an option to publish. But it took another two years of editing and changing the narrative from the third to the first person before the book was released in 1983. It garnered great critical acclaim, including being named Best First Novel of the Year by USA Today. It was published in England and France and was made into a film called Summer Heat.
Louise lived in Augusta, Georgia, where she was the writer-in-residence at Augusta State University. Her second novel, The Whistling Woman, about life in the post-Civil War South, was published in 1993. It, too, received favorable national reviews. She died in the summer of 2014 and was eulogized in The New York Times.