2017 Festival Authors and Workshop Leaders
Take a look at the list of this year's authors - maybe you'll discover a new favorite! Click on the authors' names for links to their websites. We're still adding authors as they confirm, so check back often to see who's coming.
Reluctant Witness: Robert Taylor, Hollywood & Communism (biography)
Linda Alexander grew up starry-eyed in the '70s. She's written for magazines, newspapers, and published books. Credits include Soap Opera Update, Spotlight, Baton Rouge Advocate, Washington Times, and an appearance on The Oprah Show. With eight published books—six biographies, two dark suspense novels—and another this year, characters live in her head 24/7, forever talking to her. She always talks back, and conversations are entertaining. Her books include bios on Golden Era movie star Robert Taylor; TV’s Maverick brother, Jack Kelly; and the voice of Mister Ed and movie serial cowboy, Allan “Rocky” Lane. In 2017, Linda will come out with the bio of the busiest guest star actor of the ’60s. Steve Ihnat made his mark as Garth of Izar in Star Trek’s “Whom Gods Destroy,” in addition to nearly every show of that decade. Linda moved from Maryland in 2013 with her husband, who retired from the federal government. The countryside outside Montgomery offers the best of peaceful living with all that the city offers moments away.
Thrones & Bones: Skyborn (middle-grade readers fiction)
Lou Anders is the author of Frostborn, Nightborn, and Skyborn, the
three books of the Thrones & Bones trilogy of middle-reader fantasy adventure novels written to appeal to boys and girls equally. Anders is the recipient of a Hugo Award for editing and a Chesley Award for art direction. He was named a 2016 Thurber House Children's Writer-in-Residence. Anders has published over 500 articles and stories on science fiction and fantasy television and literature. A prolific speaker, Anders regularly attends writing conventions around the country. He and his family reside in Birmingham, Alabama. You can visit Anders online at louanders.com, on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr, and on Twitter at @Louanders.
What Light (young adult fiction)
Jay Asher's debut YA novel, Thirteen Reasons Why, has appeared regularly on the New York Times bestsellers list for the past nine years. It has sold over 2.5 million copies in the US alone and is currently in production to be a 13-part series on Netflix. His second YA novel, The Future of Us, was coauthored with Printz-honor winner Carolyn Mackler. His novels have been translated into over 30 languages. His third novel, What Light, was released in October 2016.
Bandit: A Daughter's Memoir (autobiography)
Molly Brodak is the author of Bandit: A Daughter's Memoir (Grove Atlantic, 2016) and the poetry collection A Little Middle of the Night, winner of the 2009 Iowa Poetry Prize, as well as three chapbooks of poetry. Her writing has appeared in Granta, PEN America, Guernica, The Poetry Society of America, and Best American Nonrequired Reading 2016. She held the 2011-2013 Poetry Fellowship at Emory University and currently teaches at Kennesaw State University. She blogs about teaching and writing at sibilantfricative.wordpress.com.
Mary Helen Brown
Headed for Home (fiction)
Mary Helen Brown received a Ph.D. from the University of Texas and taught for thirty-four years in the Department of Communication and Journalism, ten of those years as chair. During that time she received numerous university and national teaching awards. A native of Center, Texas, she began writing her first novel, Headed for Home, in 1991. She returned to the project twenty years later, setting it in the fictional city of Rowja, Texas and weaving together the themes of tolerance, family, and humor. The novel reflects her lifelong love of storytelling. “My family is full of these outrageous people who had these outrageous stories to tell,” she says. “That’s where it all started.”
Rita Mae Brown
Tall Tail: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery, Cakewalk, Southern Discomfort, and Rubyfruit Jungle (fiction)
Born November 28, 1944 almost smack on the Mason-Dixon Line, Rita Mae Brown learned early that there are two sides to every story, sometimes three or four. Thanks, in part, to this beginning she has written more than 50 books, some of them she has even liked. The public, however, has had faith in her, as many of her novels reached The New York Times bestseller list. These include her Mrs. Murphy mystery series, co- authored her with equally prolific cat, Sneaky Pie Brown. (The latest entry is Tall Tail). Rita Mae is also five books into her Runnymede series thanks to Cakewalk, an "outrageous and affecting novel about a small town where ideas of sin and virtue, love and sex, men and women, politics and religion, can be as divided as the Mason-Dixon Line that runs right through it—and where there’s no problem that can’t be cured by a good yarn and an even better scotch."
The Alabama Book Festival is excited to bring Rita Mae to Montgomery to celebrate the thirty-fifth anniversary of her third novel, Southern Discomfort, which is set in Alabama's very own capital city.
For many other readers, Rita Mae is famous for the groundbreaking coming-of-age novel Rubyfruit Jungle, which remains one of the most important novels of the 1970s. As this novel attests, Rita Mae's work in the women's movement reinforced her belief that even if someone has their foot on your neck, you cannot allow them to rob you of the beauty of life. Fight politically, her motto goes, love uncritically.
Rita Mae has never married nor has she produced children for which there is a sigh of relief. One Rita Mae is enough.
The Black Angels (fiction)
Cal Clark is an Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Auburn University. While The Black Angels is his first work of fiction, he has authored or edited 26 academic books. He grew up in New Jersey and a B.A. from Beloit College and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Illinois. He then taught at New Mexico State University in the 1970s and the University of Wyoming in the 1980s before coming to AU in 1992. He and Janet, his wife of 47 years who is also a retired Political Science Professor, reside in Auburn. They have three daughters, who are very excited about the publication of this novel, and enjoy reading, hiking, and going to the theatre.
Once in a Blue Moon (fiction)
Vicki Covington was born and grew up in Birmingham. Her previous work includes the novels Gathering Home, Bird of Paradise, Night Ride Home, and The Last Hotel for Women and the memoir Cleaving: The Story of a Marriage with Dennis Covington. She wrote a column for the Oxford American and has also written for the New Yorker. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Alabama State Council for the Arts, she now resides in Lubbock, Texas.
MaxNificent! The Polka Dot Pyrenees (children's)
Dianne Burch is author of Maxnificent! The Polka Dot Pyrenees. She enjoys traveling with real-life Max to share his fun story of friendship and learning to celebrate the things that make us different. Max and all the characters in the book are based on real animals that came through shelter or rescue situations.
These mutts are on a mission to put a happy face on shelter animals and help families explore the best ways to pick a “fur-ever” friend. Their high-energy story reads more like an animated movie paired with the wonderful illustrations of Gerald Kelley and holds the attention of children young and old.
Dianne, Max, and all the gang live in Huntsville, Alabama. This is the first book in a planned series of stories sharing lessons for children through the crazy antics of these furry friends. Keep up with them at www.WorldofPawsAbilities.com
Hiking Through History Alabama (outdoors, nature)
Joe Cuhaj’s love for hiking, backpacking, and the outdoors began in New Jersey, where he grew up with the Appalachian Trail virtually in his backyard. Thirty-six years ago, he moved to Mobile with his wife, Maggie, who is from the port city, and immediately fell in love with the state’s remarkable wildlife and landscapes. In 2000 the former radio announcer turned software programmer was approached by Falcon Guides to write about his favorite subject, and his first book, Hiking Alabama, was published. The book is now in its fourth edition. Since then Joe has penned several other books including Best Tent Camping Alabama, Paddling Alabama, and Hiking the Gulf Coast. He has also written numerous articles on a wide range of subjects for various magazines and websites. His latest book is Hiking Through History Alabama.
The Adventures of Captain Xoey and the Mystery of the Djinn (children's)
Laura Dasnoit is the author of The Adventures of Captain Xoey and the Mystery of the Djinn. It’s a tale about friendship and fate, conquering fears, and being who you are – no matter what. In the book, there are pirates, airships, red-furry gnomes, and wondrous inventions, like jumper boots. Her book took 1st place in the children’s category of the 2016 Summer Independent Book Awards. Laura grew up in Huntsville and considers herself to have been the weird, awkward kid with curly hair – perfect for hiding her hearing aids. Today, she rocks hearing aids, eats dessert for dinner, and is an active member of a gaming community. She has worked on Scion 2ed, contributing her knowledge of the Norse Gods to paper. Laura has two dogs, Mr. Clyde Barker and Ms. Bonny McBunnyEars. They all live together in the great white north, where it is cold and trolls live under bridges – in Nashua, New Hampshire.
Exploring Wild Alabama (nature writing)
Larry Davenport, a native of Seattle, Washington, holds a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Alabama. He is the Paul N. Propst Professor of Natural Sciences at Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama, teaching botany and plant taxonomy in the undergraduate program and Wetlands in the Environmental Management graduate program. An expert on Alabama’s plant life, aquatic plants, wetlands, and rare, threatened and endangered species, including the Cahaba Lily, Dr. Davenport was named Alabama Professor of the Year in 2007 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Since 1993, Dr. Davenport has written a natural history column for Alabama Heritage. In 2010, twenty-five such columns were published as Nature Journal by the University of Alabama Press. In 2016, he co-authored Exploring Wild Alabama (also UA Press) with Kenneth M. Wills.
Z: The Beginning of Everything (Screenwriting Workshop)
Doug Dorst is a staff writer for the Amazon show Z: The Beginning of Everything, which stars Christina Ricci as Zelda Fitzgerald. He is also the author of two novels, the New York Times best-seller S. (with filmmaker J.J. Abrams) and Alive in Necropolis, which was shortlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award, as well as a story collection, The Surf Guru. He lives in Austin and directs the MFA program in creative writing at Texas State University.
Kindred (graphic novel adaptation)
Damian Duffy is a cartoonist, scholar, writer, curator, lecturer, teacher, and Glyph Comics Award-winning graphic novelist. He holds a MS and PhD in Library and Information Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His many publications range from academic essays (in comics form) on new media & learning, to art books about underrepresentation in comics culture, to editorial comics, to a graphic novel adaptation of Kindred by Octavia E. Butler, with his J2D2 Arts counterpart John Jennings. A co-founder of Eye Trauma Studios, Damian has given talks and lead workshops about comics, art, and education internationally. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
Magic City Cravings (cookbooks panel)
Martie Duncan is the Chief Party Thrower at MartieKnowsParties.com and was a finalist on the eighth season of Food Network Star. She was named the franchise's "Fan Favorite" when she returned for the tenth anniversary of the show. She is the co-author with Chanda Temple of Birmingham's Best Bites: Favorite Recipes from Restaurants, Bars, and Food Trucks Around the Magic City. Her latest book, Magic City Cravings, also documents the culinary pleasures of her home city, Birmingham.
Barrier Island Suite (poetry)
Kendall Dunkelberg directs the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing at Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, Mississippi, where he also directs the Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium. Dunkelberg has published Barrier Island Suite: poems inspired by the life and art of Walter Inglis Anderson, two previous collections of poetry, Landscapes and Architectures and Time Capsules, and a collection of translated poems by the Belgian poet, Paul Snoek, Hercules, Richelieu, and Nostradamus. His poems and translations have appeared in many magazines and in The Southern Poetry Anthology, Vo. 2: Mississippi. His introductory multi-genre creative writing textbook, A Writer’s Craft, is forthcoming from Palgrave MacMillan. He has recently taken on the responsibility of editing Poetry South, and he is supported by a 2016 Artist Fellowship from the Mississippi Arts Commission.
Duck and Cover: A Nuclear Family (autobiography)
Kathie Farnell, the oldest child of two lawyers, was born in Montgomery, Alabama. After surviving junior high school, she went on to live through Lanier High School, University of Montevallo and University of Alabama Law School. During her legal career, she served as an attorney in the State Attorney General's Office, directed the University of Alabama's Office of Energy and Environmental Law, and founded Farnell Legal Research. Bored out of her mind, she left law in 1995 to produce radio and television programs. She collaborated with Smithsonian Productions on her first radio project, Remembering Slavery, which won the Gabriel Award. Today, she lives ten miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico with her husband Jack Purser and an assortment of cats. Duck and Cover is her first book.
Go South to Freedom (children's)
Frye Gaillard, former Southern editor at the Charlotte Observer, is writer in residence at the University of South Alabama. A native of Mobile, Gaillard has written more than twenty books on Southern culture, history, religion and politics. Some of his most recent titles include Cradle of Freedom: Alabama and the Movement That Changed America; The Books That Mattered: A Reader’s Memoir; and In the Path of the Storms, co-authored with Sheila Hagler and Peggy Denniston. Gaillard was the 2016 winner of the Eugene Current-Garcia Award for outstanding scholarship, and his other recognitions include the Clarence Cason Award, the Lillian Smith Book Award, and a regional Emmy for the film adaptation of In the Path of the Storms. Go South to Freedom is his first children's book.
El Paso (fiction)
Winston Groom has returned to fiction for the first time in twenty years with El Paso, a sweeping epic set during the Mexican Revolution. Born in 1943, Groom grew up in Mobile, Alabama, where he attended University Military School prep. In 1965 he graduated from the University of Alabama with an AB in English and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army. He served in Vietnam, mostly with the 1st Brigade of the Fourth Infantry Division from July 1966 to September 1967 when he was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain. He then spent the next eight years working as a reporter and columnist for the Washington Star before becoming a full-time author.
Groom took the publishing world by storm when his 1986 novel Forrest Gump flew to the top of the New York Times bestseller list and stayed there for 21 weeks. It has sold over 2.5 million copies in the United States alone, and millions more worldwide, on the heels of its blockbuster movie adaptation starring Tom Hanks. The book has also been reprinted in at least eighteen languages. Groom is the author of sixteen additional books, including Gump & Co., Better Times Than These, Gone the Sun, Only and the award-winning As Summers Die, which was made into a movie starring Bette Davis. He has also written several highly praised histories.
Rock-a-Bye Bones (cozy mystery) and The Book of Beloved (dark mystery)
Carolyn Haines is the author of eighteen novels, including the acclaimed Sarah Booth Delaney mystery series, the latest entries of which are Rock-a-Bye Bones and Sticks and Bones. She recently kicked off a new series with The Book of Beloved, a Pluto’s Snitch Mystery. Additionally, she writes horror under the pen name R. B. Chesterton. Carolyn was honored with the prestigious 2009 Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence. She was also 2010 recipient of the Harper Lee Award. Born and raised in Mississippi, she now lives in Alabama on a farm with more dogs, cats, and horses than she can possibly keep track of!
The Forever War (graphic novels panel)
Joe Haldeman is a legendary figure in science fiction. His 1974 novel The Forever War won the Nebula Award and in spring 2017 a graphic-novel adaptation will be re-released featuring art by the Belgian comic artist Marvano. Haldeman is a multiple Hugo Award winner for works such as his 1972 novella Hero, his 1991 novel The Hemingway Hoax, and his 2003 quartet, Four Short Novels, among many others. His 1998 novel Forever Peace won the John W. Campbell Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Haldeman collaborated closely with Marvano on the graphic-novel version of The Forever War, which was released originally in 1988. Inducted into the Science Fictional Hall of Fame in 2012, Haldeman is a past grand master of the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA). His most recent novel is Work Done for Hire (2014).
Rachel M. Harper
This Side of Providence (fiction)
Rachel M. Harper is the author of two novels: This Side of Providence, shortlisted for the 2016 Ernest J. Gaines Award, and Brass Ankle Blues, a Borders’ Original Voices Award finalist and Target Breakout Book. Her short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Chicago Review, African American Review, and Black Cool. She has received fellowships from Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, and the R.I. State Council on the Arts. A graduate of Brown University and the University of Southern California, Harper is on the faculty at Spalding University's low-residency MFA in Writing Program. She lives in Los Angeles.
Stripper in Wonderland (poetry)
Derrick Harriell is director of the Master of Fine Arts-Creative Writing Program and assistant professor of English and African-American Studies at the University of Mississippi. He’s the author of three collections of poetry: Cotton (Aquarius Press-Willow Books, 2010), Ropes, (Aquarius Press-Willow Books, 2013), and Stripper in Wonderland (Louisiana State University Press, 2017). His essays and book reviews have been published widely.
Stacy Lyn’s Harvest Cookbook (food and spirits)
Stacy Lyn Harris is a bestselling cookbook author, blogger, TV personality, speaker, wife, and mother of seven children. She regularly appears on cable and broadcast television series as a guest chef and sustainable expert as well as contributing to various national publications. Her fresh perspective delivered with Southern Girl-Next-Door Charm landed her a permanent co-hosting position on The Sportsman’s Channel on The Sporting Chef TV Show where 2.4 million viewers watch her cook effortlessly and give them easy tips for great meals. Stacy Lyn’s criteria for recipes are family friendly, fresh, and super tasty and have caught the attention of publications such as Southern Living, Glamour Magazine, and Healthy Living. Her recipes are described as “rustic and comfortable, but with a certain elegance perfect for entertaining.” She has recently released her fourth book, Stacy Lyn’s Harvest Cookbook.
Rigging a Chevy into a Time Machine and Other Ways to Escape a Plague (poetry)
Carolyn Hembree was born in Bristol, Tennessee. Her debut poetry collection, Skinny, came out from Kore Press in 2012. In 2016, Trio House Books published her second collection, Rigging a Chevy into a Time Machine and Other Ways to Escape a Plague, selected by Neil Shepard for the 2015 Trio Award and by Stephanie Strickland for the 2015 Rochelle Ratner Memorial Award. Her work has appeared in Colorado Review, Gulf Coast, The Journal, Poetry Daily, and other publications. She has received grants and fellowships from PEN, the Louisiana Division of the Arts, and the Southern Arts Federation. An assistant professor at the University of New Orleans, Carolyn teaches writing and serves as poetry editor of Bayou Magazine.
Garden District Gothic (mystery)
Greg Herren is the award-winning author of more than thirty published novels and almost fifty short stories. His novel Murder in the Rue Chartres was called the "most honest depiction of post-Katrina life yet published" and earned him his second Lambda Literary Award. He has won or been shortlisted for numerous other awards, including the Shirley Jackson Award. He won two Independent Press Moonbeam medals for Outstanding Mystery/Horror for Young Adults for Sleeping Angel and Lake Thirteen. His most recent novel, Garden District Gothic, was published in October 2016. He currently lives in New Orleans.
Little Wanderer (poetry)
Jennifer Horne, raised in Arkansas and a longtime resident of Alabama, is a writer, editor, and teacher who explores Southern identity and experience, especially women’s, through prose, poetry, fiction, and anthologies and in classrooms and workshops across the South. Among her books are Bottle Tree: Poems (2010) and Tell the World You’re a Wildflower (2014), a collection of short stories in the voices of Southern women and girls. Her new collection of road and travel poems, Little Wanderer, was published by Salmon Poetry in 2016, and she has co-edited, with Don Noble, a collection of short fiction by Alabama women, Belles’ Letters II (2017). She is at work on a biography of writer Sara Mayfield.
Hook: A Memoir (Social Justice panel)
Randall Horton is the recipient of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Bea Gonzalez Poetry Award, and a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Literature. His previous work includes the poetry collection Pitch Dark Anarchy (Triquarterly/Northwestern University Press, 2013). Hook: A Memoir is published by Augury Books. Horton serves on the Board of Directors for Pen America’s Pen Prison Writing Program and is an Associate Professor of English at the University of New Haven. He is a Cave Canem Fellow, and a member of both the Affrilachian Poets and the experimental performance group: Heroes Are Gang Leaders. Horton is also a senior editor at Willow Books, an independent literary press he helped found in 2006. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, he now resides in New York City.
The Archer's Son (fiction)
Mark Hubbs is an Army veteran and currently works as an archaeologist for the US Army at Redstone Arsenal. He has written and published non-fiction historical subjects for many years, but has more recently expanded into historical fiction for young readers. The Secret of Wattensaw Bayou was a quarter finalist in the Amazon Breakout Novel awards for 2012. His second novel, The Archer's Son, has remained on the Amazon.UK top ten best sellers list for kid's medieval fiction for over two years.
Mark has had a life-long passion for history. This interest ranges from battles and leaders to the more mundane cultural and material history of the common people who were the real heroes of the past. History is more than anything else the story of ordinary people and how those people reacted to extraordinary circumstances. For over four decades Mark has learned firsthand how the people of the past lived by participating in costumed living history programs at scores of American battlefields and historic sites.
Cat in the Stacks mystery series (cozy mysteries)
Miranda James is the pseudonym of Dean James, a seventh-generation Mississippian recently returned home after over thirty years in Texas. A mystery fan since the age of ten, he wrote his first novel at the ripe old age of twelve. His first published novel, Cruel as the Grave (Silver Dagger Mysteries) appeared in 2000. Since then he has published eighteen more novels, writing under his own name and the pseudonyms Jimmie Ruth Evans and Honor Hartman. In August 2010 he launched a new series writing as Miranda James. The first book under this name, Murder Past Due spent four weeks on the extended New York Times bestseller list for mass market paperbacks. The next book in the series, Classified as Murder, published in May 2011, also hit the NYT list. The third book, File M for Murder is out now. The fourth book, Out of Circulation debuted at no. 11 on the bestseller list. Book five, The Silence of the Library, debuted at no. 8 on the bestseller list. Book six, Arsenic and Old Books, is just out.
Ethan Jackson is the Artist and Co-Founder of Dream Ink Comics. His imagination and skillful artistic abilities have contributed to half of the stories told within these pages. He has been drawing for the majority of his life and his chemistry with Kristofer Pearce has allowed an easy transition from concept to finish product. Ethan is from San Antonio, Texas where he attended high school. He now is a student at the University of Alabama studying Aerospace Engineering with a Minor in both Art and Entrepreneurship.
April L. Jones, Ph.D.
Not So Easy Road (children's picture book panel, indie- and self-publishing panel)
April L. Jones, Ph.D. is an organization psychologist, independent researcher, a speaker, and a published author of journal articles in ProQuest and European Journal of Social Sciences. She is a journal reviewer for the American Psychological Association (APA) Translational Psychological Issues Journal and Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research since 2015 and recently in 2016 she became a conference reviewer for Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP). Dr. Jones has published two books, including The Biography of Mose Jones Jr.— about the first African American to be elected as the commissioner of the Lawrence County Commission of District 1—and four children’s books forthcoming in 2017, including Not So Easy Road, Lil Boy, Lil Boy’s Big Dream Book Series, and a coloring book, Lil Boy’s Enchanted Red Hat. She is currently working on a poetic adult coloring book for cancer patients and survivors and a book about workplace bullies. She is the owner of her own business Visionary Consulting Services, LLC since 2015.
Reflections on the Dark Water (poetry)
Madison Jones is a Graduate Research Fellow at the University of Florida, working on a doctorate focused on place writing and environmental rhetoric. Reflections on the Dark Water, his second poetry collection, was released spring 2016 (Solomon & George). Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Shenandoah, Painted Bride Quarterly, Greensboro Review and elsewhere. He coedited Writing the Environment in Nineteenth-Century American Literature (Lexington, 2015). He is editor-in-chief of Kudzu House Quarterly, a journal of environmental letters. His articles have appeared or are forthcoming in ISLE, Kairos, and Merwin Studies, and he has reviewed for Kenyon Review Online, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and storySouth, among others. Visit his website: ecopoiesis.com.
Silver Sparrow (fiction)
Troy University's Big Read selection
Tayari Jones was born and raised in Atlanta, where she spent most of her childhood with the exception of the one year she and her family spent in Nigeria. Although she has not lived in her hometown for over a decade, much of her writing centers on the urban south. Her first novel, Leaving Atlanta, is a coming-of-age story set during the city’s infamous child murders of 1979-81. The book received several awards and accolades including the Hurston/Wright Award for Debut Fiction. It was named “Novel of the Year” by Atlanta Magazine and “Best Southern Novel of the Year,” by Creative Loafing Atlanta. The Atlanta Journal Constitution and The Washington Post both listed it as one of the best of 2002. Bookpage lists it among the best debuts of the decade. Her second novel, The Untelling, published in 2005, is the story of a family struggling to overcome the aftermath of a fatal car accident. In 2005, The Southern Regional council and the University of Georgia Libraries awarded The Untelling with the Lillian C. Smith Award for New Voices. Silver Sparrow was recently added to the NEA Big Read Library, a selection of contemporary classics. The American Booksellers chose Silver Sparrow as the #1 Indie Next pick for June 2011. Library Journal, O Magazine, Slate and Salon all selected the novel among the best of the year. In addition to being chosen by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association as an Honor Book, Silver Sparrow was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and the 2013 IMPAC Dublin International Literary Award. A recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award in Fine Arts from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Jones is a graduate of Spelman College, the University of Iowa, and Arizona State University. She has taught at Prairie View A&M University, East Tennessee State University, the University of Illinois and George Washington University. She has led workshops in Portugal, Ghana, Uganda, and Brazil. She is an Associate Professor in the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark University, where she was awarded with a Board of Trustees Award for Scholarly Excellence, the Presidential Fellowship for Teaching Excellence, a Leader in Faculty Diversity Award. Her work has been supported by The National Endowment for the Arts and The United States Artists Foundation and the arts councils of Arizona and Illinois. She spent the 2011-12 academic year at Harvard University as a Radcliffe Institute Fellow, researching her forthcoming novel, Dear History.
So Far from Home: Royal Air Force and Free French Air Force Flight Training at Maxwell and Gunter Fields during World War II (military history)
Dr. Robert B. Kane holds bachelor, master’s and doctorate degrees in European history. He spent 27 years in the Air Force, between 1976 and 2003, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. An Air Force historian since July 2005, he serves as the Chief Historian, Air University, Maxwell AFB, AL. He has also served as adjunct faculty for various colleges and universities and presently teaches part time for Troy University and the American Military University, WVA. He has received numerous Air Force awards and recognition as an Outstanding Young American (1985) and in Who’s Who in America. He has published Disobedience and Conspiracy in the German Army, 1918-45, book reviews, and short articles for various encyclopedias. Dr. Kane resides in Montgomery, Ala. and is married to the former Anita Louise van Deursen and has two children.
2017 Troy University's Hall-Waters Prize
Cassandra King, author of five novels, a book of nonfiction, numerous short stories, magazine articles, and essays, was raised on a peanut farm in L.A. (Lower Alabama). She has taught creative writing on the college level, conducted corporate writing seminars, and worked as a human interest reporter. Her first novel, Making Waves, now in trade paperback, has been through numerous printings since its release in 1995. Her USA Today and NY Times best-selling second novel, The Sunday Wife, was a People magazine Page-Turner, a South Carolina’s Readers Circle choice, named as one of Book Sense’s top reading group selections, and chosen by the Nestle Corporation for a nation-wide campaign to promote reading groups. The Same Sweet Girls, also a NY Times bestseller, was a national number one Book Sense selection on release. Both novels were nominated for SIBA’s Book of the Year award. A fourth novel, Queen of Broken Hearts, was a Literary Guild and Book-of-the-Month Club selection; and the fifth, Moonrise, an Okra Pick and a Southern Booksellers bestseller. She resides in the Low Country of South Carolina.
Michael Knight is the author of two novels (Divining Rod and The Typist), three collections of short stories (Dogfight and Other Stories, Goodnight, Nobody and Eveningland) and a book of novellas (The Holiday Season). His fiction has appeared in magazines and journals like The New Yorker, Oxford American, The Paris Review, Ploughshares and The Southern Review. He lives in Knoxville with his wife and two daughters and teaches creative writing at the University of Tennessee. His newest book, Eveningland, will be published in March 2017 by Grove/Atlantic.
More than Anything (fiction)
Kimberly Lang, a USA Today bestselling author, is a Southern belle with a troublemaking streak and a great love of strong heroes and even stronger heroines. A former ballet dancer and English teacher, she now does yoga and kickboxing and writes the kind of books she always loved to read. She’s married to a guy with a Scottish accent, is mom to the most amazing child on the planet, and shares her office space with a dog named Cupid. Her latest book is More than Anything.
Dharma Rain (poetry)
Terry Lucas is the author of two full-length poetry collections: In This Room (CW Books, January 2016) and Dharma Rain (Saint Julian Press, October 2016). In addition, he is the author of two award-winning poetry chapbooks: Altar Call (San Gabriel Valley Literary Festival, 2013), and If They Have Ears to Hear, winner of the 2012 Copperdome Chapbook contest (Southeast Missouri State University Press). His work has received numerous other awards, including the 2014 Crab Orchard Review Feature Award in Poetry, and five Pushcart Prize nominations. His poems, reviews, and essays have appeared in dozens of national literary journals, including Best New Poets 2012, Green Mountains Review, Great River Review, PoetryFlash, and South 85 Journal. Terry is a guest lecturer for the Dominican University Low-Residency MFA Program; Co-Executive Editor of Trio House Press; and a freelance poetry coach. More about Terry and his work can be found at www.terrylucas.com.
Promises to Keep: Southern Short Stories (fiction)
Tom McDonald is the author of two books. When Memories Come Calling and Dirt Road Memories: A Collection of Southern Short Stories were both selected as Southeast regional winners in the nonfiction category by the USA Regional Excellence Book Awards. This organization recognizes and rewards excellence in books that take readers into the heart of a “place.”
Tom spent his boyhood and part of his teenage years in the Sweetwater community of Florence, Alabama. Almost his entire family, parents, grandparents, brothers, sister, aunts, uncles and most cousins attended Brandon Elementary School. This school served the predominantly blue-collar working community of East Florence. Growing up in Sweetwater as part of a large extended family in the 1950s and later attending a small rural high school in Lauderdale County in the early 1960s greatly influenced his writing.
Mr. McDonald received his B. S. degree from the University of North Alabama and his M. A. and Ed. S. degrees from the University of Alabama. He retired from the Florence City School system as a counselor at Bradshaw High School. He and his wife currently reside in rural Lauderdale County.
An Ecology of Elsewhere (poetry)
Sandra Meek is the author of five books of poems, An Ecology of Elsewhere (Persea 2016), Road Scatter (Persea 2012), Biogeography, winner of the Dorset Prize (Tupelo 2008), Burn (2005), and Nomadic Foundations (2002), as well as editor of Deep Travel: Contemporary American Poets Abroad (Ninebark 2007). Recipient of a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry and the 2015 Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, she has twice been awarded Georgia Author of the Year, in 2006 for Burn, and in 2003 for Nomadic Foundations, which also was awarded the Peace Corps Writers Award in Poetry—Meek served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Manyana, Botswana. She is a co-founding editor of Ninebark Press, director of the Georgia Poetry Circuit, poetry editor of the Phi Kappa Phi Forum, and Dana Professor of English, Rhetoric, and Writing at Berry College.
Robert F. Moss
Southern Spirits: Four Hundred Years of Drinking in the American South, With Recipes
Robert F. Moss is a food and drinks writer and culinary historian living in Charleston, South Carolina. He is the Contributing Barbecue Editor for Southern Living, the Southern Food Correspondent for Serious Eats, and frequent contributor to publications including Saveur, the Charleston City Paper, Garden & Gun, the Columbia Free Times, and Early American Life. His latest book is Southern Spirits: Four Hundred Years of Drinking in the American South, With Recipes. Robert is also the author of Barbecue: The History of an American Institution (2010), the first full-length history of barbecue in the United States; Going Lardcore: Adventures in New Southern Dining (2012), a collection of essays about dining in the modern South; and, The Barbecue Lover's Carolinas (2015), a guide to the restaurants, recipes, and traditions of barbecue in North and South Carolina. A native of Greenville, South Carolina, Robert attended Furman University and received a Ph.D. in English from the University of South Carolina.
Suspended Between (indie and self-publishing panel)
Travis Norwood lives in Montgomery, Alabama with his wife and five children. As in his debut novel Sugar Scars, he would be perfectly happy living in a world emptied of almost all people. But not you, of course. He sincerely hopes you survive the apocalypse.
In addition to sitting on our indie and self-publishing panel, Travis will host the 2-3 p.m. hour of our open mic on Columbus Street!
Dream Comics Ink (comics panel)
Kristofer Pearce is the co-founder of Dream Ink Comics. His imaginative writing skills and ability to weave story telling in an artful manor has attributed to half of Dream Ink's stories. Kris was raised in Atlanta, Georgia where he was involved in many film programs in his High school. Upon his graduation, Kris then attended The University of Alabama where he studies Film and Marketing. It is here that he met his friend and co-founder of Dream Ink Comics, Ethan Jackson.
Montgomery's Civil Heritage Trail (nonfiction)
Karren Pell, writing with Carole King, has published four Arcadia books, and one with Bill Goss. Her first book, Alabama Troubadour, was published by River City Publishing. Karren also performs and writes songs. Her CDs include the Alabama Troubadour songs, the songs from the Alabama Shaekespeare Festival’s Fair and Tender Ladies (along with the Reckon Crew), and just out, The Song Challenge with the Old Alabama Town Revue Crue. Karren hopes current residents of Montgomery enjoy learning about their history, and that the books also inspire increased interest and investment in historic properties. She is a contributor to Montgomery's Civil Heritage Trail, published in conjunction with the Downtown Business Association.
Three Tribes of Little People (fiction)
Robert Perry has a life filled with a myriad of accomplishments. He has several books to his credit in addition to being a retired chemical engineer. Before moving to Alabama, Mr. Perry served as Vice-chairman of the Council of Elders that advises Chickasaw Nation on cultural issues. In 2011, he was inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame. He chaired the City of Sheffield’s Port Authority to develop Tuscumbia Landing, a new site on the national historical Trail of Tears. He is on the Local Activities Committee Alabama 200 to help communities celebrate Bicentennial.
Into White (Young-adult fiction)
Randi Pink is a young adult novelist. In March of 2013, she was working on an assignment for a Children's Literature course when she conceived the idea of her debut novel, Into White. After reading the first fifteen hundred words aloud in class, she realized that the world was ready for her vision. She completed her manuscript and began her journey toward publication. Pink grew up in the South. She lives with her husband and their two rescue dogs in Birmingham, Alabama, where she works for a branch of National Public Radio.
Tyson Platt (comics panel)
Tyson Platt earned his B.S. from Alabama State University in 1999, his M.S. in Clinical Psychology from Auburn University Montgomery in 2001 and his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Auburn University in 2007. He currently serves as Associate Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychology at Alabama State University. Dr. Platt teaches undergraduate psychology classes including Biological Bases of Behavior, Learning & Behavior, Research Methods in Psychology, and Sensation and Perception. He has ongoing research projects in the areas of (1) auditory perception (especially as related to music), (2) student perceptions of psychology instructors and (3) the social functions of professional wrestling. Dr. Platt maintains an undergraduate behavioral research lab in order to encourage and develop research interests and skills among psychology undergraduates. He was the 2013 recipient of the President’s Award for Teaching Excellence at Alabama State University.
Must Love Chainmail (romance fiction)
Angela Quarles is a RWA RITA® Winner and USA Today bestselling author of time travel, contemporary, and steampunk romance. Her steampunk, Steam Me Up, Rawley, was named Best Self-Published Romance of 2015 by Library Journal and Must Love Chainmail won the 2016 RITA® Award in the paranormal category, the first indie to win in that category. Angela loves history, folklore, and family history. She decided to take this love of history and her active imagination and write stories of romance and adventure for others to enjoy. When not writing, she's either working at the local indie bookstore or enjoying the usual stuff like gardening, reading, hanging out, eating, drinking, chasing squirrels out of the walls, and creating the occasional knitted scarf.
Renee Simmons Raney
Hairy, Scary but Mostly Merry Fairies! Curing Nature Deficiency
through Folklore, Imagination, and Creative Activities (Outdoors panel)
Renee Simmons Raney was raised on a mystical dairy farm in Choccolocco, Alabama. She spoke to the animals, interacted with the fairy folk, and learned to respect even the tiniest portions of the natural world. Most people lose touch with the enchantment … but not Renee. As she grew up, she learned to share this magic with others to inspire a respect for natural landscapes and conservation of wild places and land. Renee is the Director of the nationally accredited Georgia-Alabama Land Trust’s Conservation Education Institute. Over the past two decades Renee has developed, implemented and assessed environmental education programs for approximately one million participants through her work with Jacksonville State University Field Schools and the Anniston Museum of Natural History. Renee is the recipient of awards such as the Roosevelt Ashe Southeastern U.S. Outstanding Conservation Educator and Excellence in Environmental Education recognition from Oxford University. Renee is certified through Cornell University in Civic Ecology Assessment. She has performed storytelling and fairy programs for audiences in twelve states and three countries. Her first book Calico Ghosts, was blessed by Kathryn Tucker Windham who, after reading the book, handed Renee an old black click pen and said, “Take my pen and continue to inspire imagination across the South.”
Elizabeth Findley Shores
Earline’s Pink Party: The Social Rituals and Domestic Relics of a Southern Woman (Biography)
Elizabeth Findley Shores is a native of Alabama and longtime resident of Arkansas. Her first biography was On Harper’s Trail: Roland McMillan Harper, Pioneering Botanist of the Southern Coastal Plain (University of Georgia Press, 2008) and her new book is Earline’s Pink Party: The Social Rituals and Domestic Relics of a Southern Woman (University of Alabama Press, 2017). She is at work now on a biography of a British-American writer.
Panther's Prey: A Leo Maxwell Mystery (crime)
Lachlan Smith is the author of the Leo Maxwell series of legal thrillers, published by The Mysterious Press, an imprint of Grove Atlantic. Smith's first novel, Bear is Broken, won the Shamus Award for best first PI Novel. His latest, Panther’s Prey, earned him comparisons to Scott Turow. Smith obtained his law degree from UC Berkeley. He is also a former Richard Scowcroft Fellow in the Stegner Program at Stanford University, and received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Cornell. Smith now lives with his family and practices law in Birmingham, Alabama. Wolf’s Revenge, the fifth novel in the Leo Maxwell series, will be published in the fall of 2017.
Chandra Sparks Splond
Make It Work (young-adult fiction)
Chandra Sparks Splond is a blogger, editor, speaker and award-winning author. Her young adult novel Spin It Like That was chosen as a Popular Paperback for Young Adults by the Young Adult Library Services Association, and The Pledge was a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. She is also the author of several other books for teens and tweens. Splond is the owner of West End Publishing, LLC. Her editing clients have included several New York Times, USA Today and Essence bestselling authors. In addition to working for Kensington Publishing as the consulting editor for Arabesque romance, Splond has also done work for Random House, Moody Publishers, Kimani Press (formerly known as BET Books), and Hyperion. She has also worked for Good Housekeeping, Black and Married with Kids, Brides Noir, Weddingpages, Newsday, The Morning Call and Romantic Times. Her award-winning blog, Book of Splond, helps African-American women balance faith, family and fiction. Splond graduated from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa with a degree in journalism. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She resides in Birmingham with her family. Visit her online at www.chandrasparkssplond.com.
Social Justice panel
Kyes Stevens is the founder and director of the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project. She often describes the beginning of the program as “one poet in one class,” but the lesser known fact is that Kyes was that one poet. With a love for writing, she began teaching poetry at the Talladega Federal Prison through a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. This one teaching experience inspired Kyes to develop the Alabama Prison Ars and Education Initiative (name change) in 2002. More than ten years later with record program growth and success, Kyes remains the backbone of the program. Heralded by the Christian Science Monitor as one of the most innovative and effective programs in Alabama prisons, APAEP is dedicated to bringing educational opportunities to prisoners in Alabama. The program believes it is important for the adult prison population to gain a quality education, and also to build a relationship with learning that will continue to grow for the rest of their lives.
Sometimes Lessons Look LIke Love (indie and self-publishing panel)
Alabama native Tonya Terry is the outspoken, effervescent, fireball who wakes up nearly a quarter of a million viewers each morning as an anchor on one of the country's #1 rated news programs, WSFA's Today in Alabama. This "Southern Socialite" loves all things Family, Friends, Fashion and especially TROY Football. She represents the essence of WOMAN, daughter, sister, mother and friend.
Articulate, poised, and positioned, Tonya quickly gained an international reputation for her social commentary, quick wit and sense of style as the premier insider, host, social tastemaker for her celebrity friends at their exclusive events. Tonya has introduced and welcomed thousands over the years to concerts, fashion shows, premieres, grand openings, red carpets, expos, theatre events, conferences, workshops and galas throughout her region. In 2017 she penned her first book, the inspirational guide Sometimes Lessons Look LIke Love.
In addition to sitting on our indie and self-publishing panel, Tonya will host the 12-1 p.m. hour of our open mic on Columbus Street!
Cookbook and Travel Writing Workshop
Annette Thompson is a freelance journalist working out of Birmingham, Alabama. She focuses on destinations around the US and the world after completing a couple of decades as an award-winning journalist for Southern Living magazine and books. Her latest project is an online magazine and bi-weekly newsletter called Second Chance Travels. It's aimed at women who have postponed following their own travel dreams while helping their families achieve theirs. Second Chance Travels offers local and far-afield stories for women to discover and develop comfort when hitting the road. It will also introduce them to other women travelers to follow online, with an emphasis on soft adventure, cultural/culinary, and women's golf. Annette is a Past President for the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier and the Executive Women’s Golf Association. Her work has appeared in online and in numerous magazines including USA Today’s Go Escape, Best Years, Green Living, Homes, and Veterans’ Affairs; the AAA magazines; CNN.com; USAToday.com; Unity magazine; and Marina Life magazine. She is also the author of the book Alabama Barbecue: Delicious Road Trips. Next fall her 100 Things to Do in Birmingham Before You Die will be published by Reedy Press.
The Myth of Water (poetry)
Jeanie Thompson is an award-winning writer, editor, literary arts educator, and arts advocate in her home state of Alabama. Her poetry collections include The Myth of Water: Poems from the Life of Helen Keller, The Seasons Bear Us; White for Harvest: New and Selected Poems, Witness, and How to Enter the River. With Jay Lamar, Jeanie edited The Remembered Gate: Memoirs of Alabama Writers.
Jeanie holds the MFA from the University of Alabama, where she was founding editor of the literary journal Black Warrior Review. She has been awarded Individual Artist fellowships from the Louisiana State Arts Council and the Alabama State Council on the Arts. In 2003, the University of Alabama College of Arts and Sciences awarded Jeanie the Distinguished Alumni Artist of the Year.
Since 1993, Jeanie has directed the Alabama Writers' Forum, a statewide literary arts organization in Montgomery whose literary arts education program, Writing Our Stories, has provided creative writing instruction for at-risk youth since 1997. She consults with other educators on literary arts education opportunities in Alabama, and she is a state arts advocate, helping arts educators and elected officials learn more about opportunities in Alabama. Jeanie teaches in the Spalding University low-residency MFA Writing Program in Louisville, KY.
Journeys into the Mind of the World: A Book of Places (nonfiction)
Richard Tillinghast has published twelve books of poetry and five of nonfiction. In 2010 he was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in poetry in addition to a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in translation for Dirty August (Kirli Agustos), his versions of poems by the Turkish poet, Edip Cansever, written in collaboration with his daughter, the poet Julia Clare Tillinghast. He has taught at UC Berkeley, Harvard, Sewanee, and the University of Michigan and currently teaches in the Converse College Low-Residency MFA Program. His 2012 travel book, An Armchair Traveller’s History of Istanbul, published by Haus in London, was nominated for the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize. His fifth nonfiction work, Journeys into the Mind of the World: A Book of Places, has just come out from the University of Tennessee Press. He lived in Ireland from 2005-2011, and currently divides his time between Sewanee, Tennessee, and the Hamakua Coast in Hawaii.
American Happiness (poetry)
Jacqueline Allen Trimble lives and writes in Montgomery, Alabama, where she is an associate professor of English and chairs the Department of Languages and Literatures at Alabama State University. Her work has appeared in various online and print publications including The Griot, The Offing, and Blue Lake Review. American Happiness, her first collection, published by NewSouth Books was named the Best Book of 2016 by Seven Sisters Book Awards, an endeavor dedicated to encouraging women writers. Recently awarded a Key West Literary Seminar scholarship, she is currently a Cave Canem fellow and the recipient of a 2017 literary arts fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts.
Miss Jane (novel)
Brad Watson is the author of the novel The Heaven of Mercury, a finalist for the National Book Award, and two collections of short stories: Last Days of the Dog-Men, winner of the Sue Kauffman Award for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, and Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives, a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. His second novel, Miss Jane, was published to rave reviews in the summer of 2016 and has recently appeared in paperback. His stories appear frequently in the New Yorker. He teaches creative writing at the University of Wyoming, Laramie.
Ten Stars: The African American Journey of Gary Cooper -- Marine General, Diplomat, Businessman and Politician (biography)
Kendal Weaver was born in New Orleans, grew up in Birmingham and graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 1966. A journalist, he worked for the Birmingham Post-Herald before joining the Associated Press staff in Montgomery in 1971. He became the AP correspondent in Mobile in 1976, returning to Montgomery three years later to cover politics and state government as the AP’s statehouse correspondent. He became state news editor for the AP in Alabama in 2004. He has written book reviews for AP since retiring in 2011. He and his wife, Penny, live in Montgomery. Along with the publication of his first book, Ten Stars: The Afican American Journey of Gary Cooper – Marine General, Diplomat, Businessman and Politican, by NewSouth Books in 2016, he was honored by the Alabama Press Association in 2017 with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
John M. Williams
Village People: Sketches of Auburn
John M. Williams grew up in Auburn and attended Auburn University. For five years in the eighties he owned and ran a small printing business, Village Printers. He recently retired from LaGrange College, where he taught for twenty-six years. He was named Georgia Author of the Year for First Novel for his novel Lake Moon in 2002. With singer/songwriter Ken Clark he has written five rock’n’roll comedies, with several local productions. With Rheta Grimsley Johnson he co-wrote Hiram: Becoming Hank, a musical play about the early teen years of Hank Williams, with multiple productions by the Pell City Players in Alabama, and several others in development. He has published a variety of stories, essays, and reviews through the years.