Emma Bolden is the author of three full-length collections of poetry -- House Is An Enigma (Southeast Missouri State University Press), medi(t)ations (Noctuary Press, 2016) and Maleficae (GenPop Books) – and four chapbooks. She received a 2017 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A Barthelme Prize and Spoon River Poetry Review Editor’s Prize winner, her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, The Best Small Fictions, and Poetry Daily as well as such journals as the Mississippi Review, The Rumpus, StoryQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, New Madrid, TriQuarterly, Conduit, the Indiana Review, Shenandoah, the Greensboro Review, Feminist Studies, Monkeybicycle, The Journal, The Pinch, and Guernica. She currently serves as Associate Editor-in-Chief for Tupelo Quarterly.
William Boyle is from Brooklyn, New York. His debut novel, Gravesend, was published as #1,000 in the Rivages/Noir collection in France, where it was nominated for the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière. Gravesend is currently shortlisted for the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger in the UK and was recently reissued by Pegasus Crime in the US. Boyle is also the author of a book of short stories, Death Don’t Have No Mercy, and of another novel, Tout est Brisé (Everything is Broken). His most recent novel, The Lonely Witness, is out now from Pegasus Crime. A new novel, A Friend is a Gift You Give Yourself, is forthcoming in March 2019. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi.
Tina Mozelle Braziel is the author of Known by Salt (Anhinga Press) and Rooted by Thirst (Porkbelly Press). She is the recipient of the 2017 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, a fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, and an artist residency at Hot Springs National Park. Her work has appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Southern Humanities Review, Tampa Review, and other journals. As a student of University of Oregon’s MFA program in creative writing, she was awarded a MFA scholarship to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference in 2013. She now directs the Ada Long Creative Writing Workshop for high school students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She and her husband, novelist James Braziel, live and write in a glass cabin that they are building by hand on Hydrangea Ridge. For more information visit tinamozellebraziel.com.
Jim Buford lives and writes in Auburn, Alabama, where he reviews books and writes the occasional column for The Auburn Villager, and through his consulting practice, provides support for the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities, and the Jule Collins Smith Museum at Auburn University. He also serves as secretary of the board of The Alabama Writers’ Forum. In addition to Water over the Dam, he has published an earlier collection of short stories, The House across the Road, three books of essays, The Kindness of Strangers, The Best of Times, and Pie in the Sky, as well as a social history, When the Lights Came On. Jim is very proud to have been named the official writer of the Mellow Mushroom.
At the age of ten, Mike Burrell was one of the world’s first Elvis impersonators. His only performance was a totally humiliating lip-sync of “Hound Dog” during a school assembly. The failure of his “shaky” performance caused him to drift away from Elvis. Through the years, he earned his living as a farm laborer, a grocery clerk, a military intelligence analyst, a supervisor for the Alabama Department of Revenue and a lawyer. After earning an MFA in creative writing from Queens University of Charlotte, he found his way back to Elvis with The Land of Grace, a satirical novel involving an Elvis impersonator who is lured into a zealous religious cult founded on the worship of The King. Mike’s work has appeared in: Still: The Journal, Southern Humanities Review, The MacGuffin, and the Livingston Press anthology, Climbing Mt. Cheaha: Emerging Alabama Writers. He lives in Birmingham with his wife, Debra.
Olivia Cole is an author and blogger from Louisville, Kentucky. She is the author of the New Adult series Panther in the Hive and a Young Adult series that includes the novels A Conspiracy of Stars (2018) and An Anatomy of Beasts (2019). Her first picture book will be published by Bloomsbury in 2019. Her essays have been published at Bitch Media, Real Simple, the LA Times, HuffPost, Teen Vogue, and others. Olivia is the creator and curator of the all-women science-fiction themed art show Kindred. She teaches creative writing at the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts.
Road manager, writer, music producer, museum curator, motorcycle enthusiast, photographer.... The list goes on and on for Birmingham native Dick Cooper. Covering the music scene during the 1970's for the Florence Times-Tri-Cities Daily, Dick soon became intertwined with the robust music scene in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. He was working as an assistant for keyboard player and producer Barry Beckett, one of the legendary Muscle Shoals “Swampers,” when Bob Dylan journeyed down to Muscle Shoals Sound Studios to record Slow Train Coming. Good-natured and enthusiastic, Dick's photographs capture both the seriousness and the camaraderie of those unique studio sessions helmed by legendry producer Jerry Wexler. He also maintains a vast collection that includes tens of thousands of photographs that document the legendary Muscle Shoals music scene from the 1970s through present day. Dick is the immediate past Curator of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and is responsible for the creation and design of many of the exhibits on display there. Dick co-produced and helped engineer the Drive-By Truckers’ seminal Southern Rock Opera album (2001). He provided many of the still photographs used in the Magnolia Pictures documentary film Muscle Shoals and has appeared at countless film screenings, panel discussions, Q&A sessions and photo exhibits of his historical body of photographs since the film’s release in 2013.
Foster Dickson is a writer, editor, and award-winning teacher in Montgomery, Alabama. His nonfiction investigation Closed Ranks: The Whitehurst Case in Post-Civil Rights Montgomery examines the 1975 police shooting of Bernard Whitehurst Jr., a 33-year-old father of four mistaken for a robbery suspect. Dickson began teaching creative writing at Booker T. Washington Magnet High School in 2003, and during his fifteen years there has been awarded two Southern Poverty Law Center Teaching Tolerance grants, two Gannett Foundation grants, an Artist Teacher Fellowship from the Surdna Foundation, a Writer-in-Service Residency from the Lillian E. Smith Foundation, a Community Legacy Project grant from the Center for Arts Education at the Boston Arts Academy, an Arts in Education grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, and Honorable Mention education grant from the Alabama Bicentennial Commission. His previous books include I Just Make People Up: Ramblings with Clark Walker and Children of the Changing South.
William G. Deutsch is the author of Alabama Rivers: A Celebration and Challenge, an Alabama Bicentennial Book. Bill co-founded Alabama Water Watch and directed this community-based water-monitoring program for 20 years. He is a Research Fellow, Emeritus in the Auburn University School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences, with degrees in Zoology, Anthropology, Biology and Aquatic Ecology. Alabama Rivers describes how the state’s waterways form, flow, and are full of life, and what we can do to develop a river ethic and keep rivers clean and healthy.
Marlena Frank has always been fascinated with monsters, and now gets to write about them. She has been writing spooky and fantastic stories since 2010 and has had her short stories published in a number of anthologies, from Heroic Fantasy Quarterly to The Sirens Call. Her YA Dark Fantasy novella, The She-Wolf of Kanta, was released in April 2018 from Radiant Crown Publishing, now known as Aurelia Leo. Her debut novel, Stolen, book one of a three-part YA Fantasy series, came out January 2019 from The Parliament House Press, and on release day became an Amazon Bestseller in a YA category. When she isn’t thinking up strange tales, she’s an active member in the Atlanta cosplay community and the Atlanta HWA Chapter.
Frye Gaillard, writer in residence at the University of South Alabama, is the author of more than 25 works of non-fiction on Southern history, politics and culture. His latest book, A Hard Rain: America in the 1960s, Our Decade of Hope, Possibility, and Innocence Lost, was chosen by NPR as one of the best books of 2018. Gaillard's other award-winning titles include Cradle of Freedom: Alabama and the Movement That Changed America; Watermelon Wine: The Spirit of Country Music; The Dream Long Deferred: The Landmark Struggle for Desegregation in Charlotte, NC; andGo South to Freedom, a historical novel for young readers. Gaillard's recognitions include the Lillian Smith Book Award, the Clarence Cason Award, and the Eugene Current-Garcia Award. A native of Mobile, Gaillard is a former Southern Editor at the Charlotte Observer, and his byline has appeared in such publications as The Oxford American, the Washington Post, and the Journal of American History.
Steven Gish is a professor of history at Auburn University at Montgomery, where he has taught since 1997. Originally from Iowa, he received his BA from Northwestern University and his MA and PhD from Stanford. He is a specialist in modern South African history. His previous books include Alfred B. Xuma: African, American, South African (about a 1916 Tuskegee graduate) and Desmond Tutu: A Biography. He has traveled widely in South Africa since the 1980s and has interviewed key figures in the anti-apartheid movement, including Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, and Desmond Tutu.
Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of One Taste Too Many, the first of Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series. She also wrote Should Have Played Poker and 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories, including Anthony and Agatha finalist “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. Debra serves on the national boards of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and is president of Sisters in Crime’s Guppy Chapter and the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Find out more about Debra at www.DebraHGoldstein.com.
Jeremy Gray is the author of the true-crime study The Infamous Birmingham Axe Murders: Prohibition Gangsters and Vigilante Justice, about a forgotten crime spree in 1920s’ Alabama. Jeremy has covered the news in Alabama since 1999. After years of chasing police through the Magic City as night reporter for the Birmingham News, he is currently a managing producer for Alabama Media Group, helping share breaking news on AL.com and in the pages of the Birmingham News, the Huntsville Times and Mobile’s Press-Register. A Bessemer, Alabama native and father of two, Gray is a graduate of McAdory High School and the University of Montevallo. He lives in Moody, Alabama.
Anthony Grooms is the author of The Vain Conversation, which, along with his short-story collection Trouble No More and his previous novel Bombingham, has been selected as All Georgia Reads. As Ron Rash has written of The Vain Conversation, “When we finish the last page, the book is not finished with us. It will haunt us.” Adopted for study in colleges, Bombingham was the 2013 common book selection for Washington, D. C. Tony is a Fulbright Fellow, a Yaddo Fellow, a Hurston-Wright Foundation Legacy Award finalist, an Arts Administration Fellow from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the recipient of two Lillian Smith Awards from the Southern Regional Council. His stories and poems have been published in Callaloo, African American Review, Short Stories of the Civil Rights Movement, and many other literary journals and anthologies. Since 1994, he has taught creative writing and literature at Kennesaw State University, directing its M. A. in Professional Writing. He has also taught in Ghana and Sweden, and lectured in Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. Tony is currently finishing novels about Black Americans in Sweden and about school desegregation in Birmingham, Alabama.
Bethany Hegedus’s books include the award-winning Grandfather Gandhi and Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story, both co-written with Arun Gandhi, grandson to the Mahatma and illustrated by Evan Turk. Her latest picture book is Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird (2018), which is a Junior Library Guild 2018 selection. Forthcoming picture book includes Hard Work But It’s Worth It: The Life of Jimmy Carter (2019, the first picture book on the 39th president). The pictures books also join Bethany's novels Truth with a Capital T and Between us Baxters in gracefully handling race, class, and diversity issues. A graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children & Young Adults, Bethany is prior editor of the literary journal Hunger Mountain. Bethany is the Owner and Creative Director of The Writing Barn, a writing retreat, workshop and event space in Austin, Texas. A former educator, Bethany speaks and teaches across the country.
Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times bestselling author of fourteen novels, including the historical fiction, Becoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis. Patti’s other books include Losing the Moon, Between the Tides; Where the River Runs; When Light Breaks; Between the Tides; The Art of Keeping Secrets; Driftwood Summer; The Perfect Love Song: A Holiday Story; Coming Up for Air; And Then I Found You; The Stories We Tell; The Idea of Love, The Bookshop at Water’s End, and the forthcoming The Favorite Daughter (June 2019). A finalist in the Townsend Prize for Fiction, an Indie Next Pick, an OKRA pick, and a multiple nominee for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Novel of the Year, Patti is published in numerous languages. Her articles and essays have appeared in Southern Living, PINK, Writer’s Digest, Portico Magazine, Birmingham Magazine and more.
S. F. Henson is the critically acclaimed author of Devils Within, a 2018 William C. Morris Award finalist, Alabama Library Association 2019 Young Adult Award winner, Kirkus Best Book of 2017, and YALSA 2018 Best Fiction for Young Adults. Born and raised in the Deep South, S. F. graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Animal Science, which she put to great use by attending law school. Her law degree has gotten some mileage, though, giving her the experience to write about criminals and other dark, nefarious subjects. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, dog, and two oddly named cats.
Jennifer Horne is the Poet Laureate of Alabama, 2017-2021. A writer, editor, and teacher who explores Southern identity and experience, especially women’s, through prose, poetry, fiction, and anthologies and in classes and workshops, she is the author of two full-length poetry collections and three chapbooks, a short story collection, and the editor of several volumes of poetry, essays, and stories. Her web page and blog, “A Map of the World,” are at: http://jennifer-horne.blogspot.com/
Laura Hunter is the author of Beloved Mother, a magical realism novel set in the early- to mid-20th-century Appalachians. A former English instructor, Laura taught composition and American literature to gifted students, primarily for Tuscaloosa City Schools and the University of Alabama for more than thirty years. During her teaching career, she was one of two academic coaches at Central High School East Campus, Tuscaloosa. Her team won seventeen state championships and three national championships. Raised in Alabama hill country on a “toenail of the Appalachians,” Hunter now lives near Tuscaloosa with her husband and cocker spaniel. She has published sixteen award-winning fiction pieces, nine poems, and numerous free-lance articles. Her work in progress is a novel about actual experimentation on and sterilization of young Black females in mid-20th-century Alabama.
Caleb Johnson is the author of the novel Treeborne. He grew up in Arley, Alabama, studied journalism at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and earned an MFA from the University of Wyoming. Johnson has worked as a newspaper reporter, a janitor and a whole-animal butcher, among other jobs. He has been awarded a Jentel Writing Residency and a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship in fiction to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He lives with his wife, Irina, and their dog, Hugo, in Valle Crucis, North Carolina, where he teaches at Appalachian State University while working on his next novel.
Ashley M. Jones received an MFA in Poetry from Florida International University. Her debut poetry collection, Magic City Gospel, was published by Hub City Press in January 2017, and it won the silver medal in poetry in the 2017 Independent Publishers Book Awards. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in many journals and anthologies, including the Academy of American Poets, Tupelo Quarterly, Prelude, Steel Toe Review, The Sun, Poets Respond to Race Anthology, and The Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy. She received a 2015 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award and a 2015 B-Metro Magazine Fusion Award. Her second collection, dark / / thing, won the 2018 Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry from Pleiades Press and is forthcoming in February 2019. She currently lives in Birmingham, Alabama, where she is Second Vice President of the Alabama Writers’ Conclave , founding director of theMagic City Poetry Festival, and a faculty member in the Creative Writing Department of the Alabama School of Fine Arts.
Sarah Lampkin is the author of To Dream is to Die, the kickoff novel in an urban fantasy series. A native of Richmond, Virginia, Sarah is a 2015 graduate from the University of Lynchburg with a master’s degree in English. Post-graduation, Sarah now lives in Northern Virginia working as a Technical Editor/Writer while continuing her research into Celtic studies for her graduate school thesis. Her hobbies include being a gym rat, gaming nerd, reading, and archery. In the winter months, you can usually find her hiding in a tree. Her passion for writing made itself known when she was in high school where she wrote her first novella. It continued as she worked towards her bachelor’s degree, and that is where the Dead Dreamer series was born. Her work mainly focuses on Celtic themes, mixed with elements from the spiritual world. And her characters always have a flair of attitude and sarcasm because writing damsels in distress is something she just can’t do.
Irene Latham is the author of many books, including two novels for children, Leaving Gee's Bend and Don't Feed the Boy. Winner of the 2016 ILA Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, her poetry books for children include Dear Wandering Wildebeest, When the Sun Shines on Antarctica, Fresh Delicious and Can I Touch Your Hair? (with Charles Waters), which was named a Charlotte Huck Honor book and a Kirkus Best Book of 2018. Irene lives on a lake in Alabama where she does her best to “live her poem” every single day by laughing, playing the cello, and birdwatching.
Kerry Madden-Lunsford is the author of a new picture book, Ernestine’s Milky Way, published by Schwartz & Wade of Random House. She also wrote Maggie Valley Trilogy for children, which includes Gentle’s Holler, Louisiana’s Song and Jessie’s Mountain, published by Viking. Her first novel, Offsides (Morrow), was a New York Public Library Pick for the Teen Age. Her book, Up Close Harper Lee, made Booklist’s Ten Top Biographies of 2009 for Youth. Her first picture book, Nothing Fancy About Kathryn and Charlie, was illustrated by her daughter, Lucy, and published by Mockingbird Publishers. Kerry is a regular contributor to the LA Times OpEd Page. She directs the Creative Writing Program at UAB and teaches in the Antioch MFA Program in Los Angeles. The mother of three adult children, she divides her time between Birmingham and Los Angeles. Visit her website at www.kerrymadden.com.
Kwoya Fagin Maples is a writer from Charleston, SC. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alabama and is a graduate Cave Canem Fellow. Her work is published in several journals and anthologies including Blackbird Literary Journal, Berkeley Poetry Review, Obsidian, The African-American Review, PLUCK, Cave Canem Anthology XIII. Her poetry collection MEND (University Press of Kentucky, 2018) was finalist for the AWP Prize. MEND received a grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation. Kwoya teaches Creative Writing at the Alabama School of Fine Arts and directs a three-dimensional poetry exhibit which features poetry and visual art including original paintings, photography, installations and film.
Michael Martone, originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and a professor since 1996 at the University of Alabama, is the author of several books, including The Moon Over Wapakoneta; Brooding; Winesburg, Indiana; Four for a Quarter; Not Normal, Illinois: Peculiar Fiction from the Flyover; Racing in Place: Collages, Fragments, Postcards, Ruins, a collection of essays; and Double-wide, his collected early stories. At once prolific and experimental, Michael is widely hailed for his playful innovations with form and genre: Michael Martone, for example, is a memoir in contributor’s notes. His stories and essays have appeared in Harper's, Esquire, Story, Antaeus, North American Review, Benzene, Epoch, Denver Quarterly, Iowa Review, Third Coast, Shenandoah, Bomb, Story Quarterly, American Short Fiction and other magazines. Michael is a two-time winner of an NEA Fellowship, and his work is frequently included in The Pushcart Prize, The Best American Stories, and The Best American Essays anthologies. In 2013 he received the national Indiana Authors Award, and in 2016, the Mark Twain Award for Distinguished Contribution to Midwestern Literature.
Robert McCammon is the author of twenty-three novels and two short story collections. Starting with his first novel, Baal, in 1978, McCammon quickly became one of the bestselling horror authors of the 1980s, with three consecutive novels hitting the New York Times Bestsellers List: Swan Song, Stinger, and The Wolf’s Hour. During that time, he also won several Bram Stoker Awards for Best Novel and Best Short Story. As the 1990s dawned, McCammon expanded his writing away from the horror genre, and his 1991 classic Boy’s Life won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. After Gone South in 1992, McCammon decided to try historical fiction, which had always interested him. After clashing with a new publisher over the direction of his new books, McCammon retired from publishing for ten years. He returned in 2002 with Speaks the Nightbird, which became the first book in a planned nine-book series about Matthew Corbett. The Corbett books are set in the early 1700s, and each volume has explored different genres: mystery, adventure, chase, pulp, thriller, and more. In addition to the Corbett books, McCammon has also written contemporary novels, including The Five, The Border, and The Listener, coming in February 2018 from Cemetery Dance Publications. McCammon lives in Birmingham, Alabama.
Amy McDonald is the author of Determined to Survive: A Story of Survival and One Teacher’s Passion to Bring That Story to Life, which details the life and experiences of Holocaust survivor Max Steinmetz, who currently lives in Birmingham, Alabama. Amy is a teacher at Shades Valley High School, where she teaches U.S. History and Holocaust Studies. She co-founded and co-directed Honor Flight Birmingham, which from 2007 to 2012, raised funds to take more than 900 WWII veterans to see the WWII Memorial in Washington, D. C. For her work with Honor Flight, Amy has received the 2011 Natalie Molton Gibbons Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Montevallo, Special Commendation from the Alabama Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, GAC Youth Leadership Program Veterans Supporter Award, and the National Veterans Day 2012 Soaring Eagle Award. In her work with Holocaust Studies, Amy attended the 2011 Jewish Foundation for the Righteous Summer Institute for Teachers at Columbia University. After completion of this training, Amy became an Alfred Lerner Fellow and attends the JFR Advanced Seminar in January of each year. In 2012, 2015, and 2017 Amy participated in the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous European Study Programs to Germany, Poland, and Lithuania. In 2013, Amy received the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous Robert I. Goldman Award for Excellence in Holocaust Education. In 2014, Amy was accepted into the U.S. Holocaust Museum Teacher Fellowship Program, which is held in Washington, D.C. After completing this program in July 2015, Amy was recognized as a Teacher Fellow of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Christopher Lyle McIlwain, Sr. is the author of The Million-Dollar Man Who Helped Kill a President: George Washington Gayle and the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the incredible untold story of the leading role played by a prominent Alabama lawyer in one of the world’s most famous and debated political assassinations. Having himself practiced law for more than three decades in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Chris is a prolific author of nineteenth-century histories. His two previous books include Civil War Alabama (University of Alabama Press, 2016), the winner of the McMillan Prize, and 1865 Alabama: From Civil War to Uncivil Peace (also University of Alabama Press, 2017). Chris has also published several articles in a variety of history journals.
Jim Noles is the author of a number of non-fiction works, most recently Undefeated: From Basketball to Battle—West Point’s Perfect 1944 Season (2018). A founding partner of the law firm Barze Taylor Noles Lowther LLC, he is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, and of The University of Texas School of Law in Austin, Texas. Jim serves on the Board of Trustees of the Alabama School of Fine Arts, is the vice chairman of the Mountain Brook Library Foundation, and is a former chair of the Board of Directors of the Alabama Humanities Foundation.
Dewey Lindon “Spooner” Oldham, a lynchpin of Southern soul and rhythm and blues, is the co-recipient, along with his songwriting partner Dan Penn, of the 2019 Hall-Waters Prize for Achievement in Southern Writing from Troy University. The Alabama-born musician made his name as the keyboardist at Rick Hall’s FAME Studio and the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, appearing on such seminal soul songs as Percy Sledge’s "When a Man Loves a Woman,” Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally,” and Aretha Franklin’s “I Never Loved a Man (The Way That I Love You),” the singer’s historic first recording for Atlantic Records. With Dan Penn, Spooner wrote such hits as “Cry Like a Baby” for the Box Tops and “I'm Your Puppet” for James and Bobby Purify, among some 400-500 other collaborations. In between those compositions, he became one of the most celebrated sidemen in rock ‘n’ roll, often touring with Bob Dylan during his gospel years, Neil Young, Linda Ronstadt, the Drive-By Truckers, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and many others. Since 1994, he and Dan have occasionally toured together; their 1998 live album, Moments from This Theatre, provides a brilliant, beautiful introduction to their catalog. Spooner is a member, among many other honors, of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville, the Birmingham Record Collectors Hall of Fame, and the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
James Pate is an emeritus professor of history at the University of West Alabama, where he served as a department chair, dean, and vice president. He also served as a dean at Southeastern Oklahoma State, vice president at Northeastern State University, and campus dean at the University of Mississippi-Tupelo. He is a graduate of Delta State University and earned an M.A. and Ph.D. from Mississippi State. He has previously edited “When This Evil War is Over”: The Correspondence of the Francis Family, 1860–1865, Cherokee Newspapers, 1828–1906, and The Reminiscences of George Strother Gaines. His contributions to research, preservation, and archaeological investigations at the Fort Tombecbé/Fort Confederation complex led to the transfer of the significant eighteenth-century French-British-Spanish site to the University of West Alabama.
Dan Penn, one of the great Southern songwriters of the past fifty years, is the co-recipient, along with his songwriting partner Spooner Oldham, of the 2019 Hall-Waters Prize for Achievement in Southern Writing from Troy University. A fixture of the Muscle Shoals sound since he was a teenager, Dan sold his first chart hit, “Is a Bluebird Blue,” to Conway Twitty in 1960 and went on to write pop staples for Joe Simon, Jimmy Hughes, and Wilson Pickett. With Chips Moman he wrote “Do Right Woman” for Aretha Franklin and “The Dark End of the Street” for James Carr (and recently covered by Cat Power). His collaborations with Spooner include “I’m Your Puppet,” which became a hit in 1965 for James & Bobby Purify, Percy Sledge’s “It Tears Me Up,” and the Box Tops’s “Cry Like a Baby,” which the duo tailored specifically for the late great Alex Chilton. Another of their classics, “A Woman Left Lonely,” written at Dan’s Beautiful Sounds Studio in Memphis, is a centrepiece of Janis Joplin’s classic album Pearl. Dan and wife Linda relocated to Nashville in the 1970s, where he’s remained active ever since, co-writing and producing Bobby Purify’s comeback album, Better to Have It, in his basement studio. In 2013 Dan was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
Imani Perry is the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, where she also teaches in the Programs in Law and Public Affairs, and in Gender and Sexuality Studies. She is a native of Birmingham, Alabama, and spent much of her youth in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Chicago. She is the author of several books, including Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry and May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem. She lives outside Philadelphia with her two sons, Freeman Diallo Perry Rabb and Issa Garner Rabb.
Katherine D. Perry is the co-founder of the Georgia State University Prison Education Project, an Associate Professor of English at Perimeter College of Georgia State University, a poet, a yogini, and a mother. Her first book, Long Alabama Summer, was released in 2017 from Finishing Line Press. She holds a Ph.D. from Auburn University and an MA from University of Texas at Dallas. She regularly teaches poetry and writing in Georgia prisons and in traditional classes. For more information, visit her website at www.katherinedperry.com.
Wendy Reed is an Emmy-winning writer and producer, whose latest essay appears in Southern Writers in Writing. The Alabama State Council on the Arts fellow has been published in newspapers, anthologies, and literary magazines. Her work includes the series Discovering Alabama and Bookmark with Don Noble, and her books include An Accidental Memoir: How I Killed Someone and Other Stories, All Out of Faith, and Circling Faith (co-editor Jennifer Horne). Reed teaches in the University of Alabama Honors College and lives in Hoover, Alabama.
Philip Shirley writes about a South he knows well, having lived in Alabama, Florida, Texas and Mississippi. He lived in Monroeville, officially known as The Literary Capital of Alabama, where he first began a writing career that has garnered more than fifty awards for fiction, poetry, speeches and feature articles. During the decade he spent writing The Graceland Conspiracy, he often paused to publish other work. First was a book of short stories called Oh Don’t You Cry for Me, which was a finalist for the Jefferson Prize. He co-wrote Sweet Spot: 125 Years of Baseball and The Louisville Slugger, a social history of Major League Baseball. In 2014 Mindbridge Press released his first novel, The White Lie, and in 2018 released The Graceland Conspiracy. He splits time between a home in Mississippi, a cabin in Paint Rock Valley in North Alabama, and Dauphin Island, Alabama. He is married to the painter Virginia Shirley.
T. K. Thorne’s childhood passion for storytelling deepened when she became a police officer in Birmingham, Alabama: “It was a crash course in life and what motivated and mattered to people.” In her newest novel, House of Rose, murder and mayhem mix with a little magic when a police officer discovers she’s a witch. Both her award-winning debut historical novels, Noah’s Wife and Angels at the Gate, tell the stories of unknown women in famous biblical tales—the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. Her first non-fiction book, Last Chance for Justice, the inside story of the investigation and trials of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, was featured on the New York Post’s “Books You Should Be Reading” list. T. K. loves traveling and speaking about her books and life lessons. She writes at her mountaintop home near Birmingham, often with two dogs and a cat vying for her lap.
Jacqueline Allen Trimble is a Cave Canem Fellow and an Alabama State Council on the Arts Literary Fellow. Her poetry has appeared in various anthologies and journals including The Louisville Review, The Offing, and Poet Lore. Published by NewSouth Books, her first collection, American Happiness, won the 2016 Balcones Poetry Prize. She is professor of English and chairs the Department of Languages and Literatures at Alabama State University.