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. Scroll down for a complete JPEG and PDF of author bios (with thumbnails) that you can download for distribution!
Ace Atkins is the New York Times Bestselling author of twenty-one novels, including The Fallen and Robert B. Parker’s Little White Lies, both published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in 2017. One of the best crime writers working today, he has been nominated for every major award in crime fiction, including the Edgar three times, twice for novels about former U. S. Army Ranger Quinn Colson. A former newspaper reporter and SEC football player—he was a member of Auburn’s undefeated 1993 team—Ace also writes essays and investigative pieces for several national magazines, including Outside and Garden & Gun. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his family, where he’s friend to many dogs and several bartenders.
Ace is the 2018 recipient of Troy University’s Hall-Waters Prize awarded in honor of a distinguished career in Southern writing. Previous honorees include Rep. John Lewis, Natasha Trethewey, Bobbie Ann Mason, Pat Conroy, and Cassandra King. Ace is an especially appropriate choice for the award. His late father, the legendary player and coach Bill Atkins (1934-1991), coached Troy State University’s football team from 1966 to 1971 and to this day remains the program’s second-winningest coach. Ace was born in Troy, so the Hall-Waters Prize is a homecoming the book festival is excited to help celebrate.
Sarah Belanger is a writer, food photographer, and beer blogger based in Alabama. Her first book, North Alabama Beer: An Intoxicating History, explores the impact that brewing had on the state for the last 200 years, and looks at the revival of the modern craft beer industry in the region. Her writing has appeared in dozens of local publications including No’Ala Magazine and Huntsville Event Magazine, and she is a beer blogger for the Huntsville/Madison County Visitor’s Bureau’s blog Ihearthsv.com. Sarah is also a commercial food photographer, photographing for numerous restaurants as well as a wide variety of cookbooks and magazines. Her work has been published in national brand cookbooks including Southern Living, Weight Watchers and Pillsbury. You can view her latest photography in the cookbook Step-by-Step Italian: Recipes from CC’s Cooking Classes. Sarah has also taught journalism and photojournalism classes at the University of North Alabama and Samford University.
Emily Blejwas grew up in Minnesota and now lives in Mobile, Alabama, with her husband and four children. She directs the Gulf States Health Policy Center and has worked in the fields of community development and victim advocacy. She holds degrees from Auburn University and Kenyon College. Her novel for middle-grade readers, Once You Know This, is published by Delacorte.
Tom Brandon has been in the field of education for over thirty years teaching in Oklahoma and Alabama. Most of those years have been at the same small rural school located in Madison County, Alabama. He has served in several capacities from teacher, coach, to bus driver and has served on a number of advisory councils over the years. Mr. Brandon has received Teacher of the Year at his local school, The Coca Cola Always Teaching Award and the Steve Harvey Neighborhood Award. He is a blogger, author and speaker. He travels internationally speaking, teaching and doing community work. But his greatest joy comes from family, especially his three grandchildren.
Embry Burrus is a licensed speech-language pathologist and part-time clinical supervisor at Auburn University. She is a full-time caregiver for her older sister, Margaret, who has Down syndrome, about whom her memoir, The Life We Choose: A Sibling’s Story (Solomon & George Publishers, 2017) was written. She is co-author of a textbook, Professional Communication in Speech-Language Pathology: How to Write, Talk and Act like a Clinician, Third Edition (Plural Publishing, 2016), and has also been published in Lake Martin Living, Byline and the Birmingham Arts Journal.
Bryn Chancellor’s debut novel Sycamore (Harper/HarperCollins, 2017), hailed as “hypnotic” (O Magazine) and "a transporting vision of community, connection, and forgiveness” (Publishers Weekly), was an IndieNext pick, an Amazon Editors' Best Book of 2017, and among Bustle's Best Debuts of 2017. Her story collection When Are You Coming Home? (University of Nebraska Press, 2015) won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize, and her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Gulf Coast, Blackbird, Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, Phoebe, The Common, Publishers Weekly, and elsewhere. A recipient of a 2017-18 Artist Fellowship from the North Carolina Arts Council, she also has received the Poets & Writers Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award; fellowships from the Arizona and Alabama state arts councils; and scholarships from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee writers conferences. A native of California raised in Arizona, she earned her M.F.A. from Vanderbilt University and teaches at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
When Callie Chapman, a student at Crestline Elementary in Birmingham, was six years old, she wrote a story for the Expression’s Art Contest. The Story, Glitter the Unicorn, is about a unicorn named Glitter and her best friend Ellie. The dynamic duo goes on a magical adventure to Cotton Candy Land were they meet a Queen. The Queen sends Glitter and Ellie on an adventure through the lollipop forest and to the mountain of chocolate where Glitter and Ellie find a magical candy bar. Callie has written two more books to add to the Glitter the Unicorn Series, both illustrated by her mother, Bronwyne. Glitter the Unicorn Goes to the Beach launched in April 2017 and Glitter the Unicorn Goes to the Moon in March 2018. Callie will both kick off the children’s tent on April 21 and read from the Glitter books during a special noon storytime session on the Old Alabama Town playground.
James E. Cherry
James E. Cherry is the author of a poetry chapbook, two full collections of poetry, a collection of short fiction and two novels. His novel, Edge of the Wind, was a 2016 Foreword Review Book of the Year Finalist for Fiction. He has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award, a Lillian Smith Book Award and was a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Award. Cherry has an MFA in creative writing from UTEP and resides in Tennessee with his wife, Tammy Visit him at: jamesEcherry.com.
Robert Collins has published poems in a variety of literary magazines, including Ascent, Cimarron Review, Louisville Review, Connecticut Review, Southern Humanities Review, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, and Southern Poetry Review. He has received two Individual Artists Fellowships from the Alabama State Council on the Arts in 1993 and 1998, been nominated for a Pushcart Prize several times, received the Ascent Award for Poetry and won the Tennessee Chapbook Prize. He taught American literature and creative writing at the University of Alabama in Birmingham for thirty years where he founded and edited Birmingham Poetry Review and directed the creative writing program. He is the author of seven books of poetry, including Naming the Dead (FutureCycle Press 2012) and, most recently, Drinking with the Second Shift (Word Tech 2017).
Kamara "Kami" Bowling Davis earned a Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education from the University of North Alabama, with specialties in history and political science. She worked for a decade at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, rising from Space Camp counselor to director of sales. Kami is a veteran of the U.S. Army and a self-proclaimed "Cat Lady" who gained her interest in craft beer through exposure to the vast quantities consumed by her husband. Rather than fight against his love of beer, and knowing that resistance was futile, Kami jumped right in. She became an expert in the field, knowing more about beer than her husband. She resides in Northern Alabama with her loving husband, three cats, two dogs and an evil rabbit.
Kathleen Driskell is the author of the poetry collections Blue Etiquette: Poems, a finalist for the Weatherford Award; Next Door to the Dead, a Kentucky Voices selection by the University Press of Kentucky; Seed Across Snow, a Poetry Foundation national bestseller; Laughing Sickness and Peck and Pock: A Graphic Poem. Individual poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Shenandoah, North American Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Greensboro Review, Rattle, and Mid-American Review, among others, and have been featured in anthologies and online at Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and American Life in Poetry. Her awards include grants from the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and she has received prizes from the Associated Writing Programs and Frankfort Arts Foundation. She is Professor of Creative Writing and Program Director at Spalding University’s Low-Residency MFA in Writing Program in Louisville, Kentucky.
Rupert Fike's second collection of poems, Hello the House, was awarded the 2017 Violet Reed Haas Poetry Prize from Snake Nation Press. He was also named Finalist as Georgia Author of the Year after the publication of his first book of poems, Lotus Buffet (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2011). His stories and poems have appeared in The Southern Poetry Review,Scalawag Magazine, The Georgetown Review, A&U America's AIDS Magazine, The Alabama Literary Review, The Buddhist Poetry Review, The Cortland Review, Natural Bridge, The Chattahoochee Review and others. He has a poem inscribed in a downtown Atlanta plaza, and his non-fiction, Voices from The Farm, presents the hardships of life on a 1970s Tennessee commune. He lives in Clarkston, Georgia and leads writing workshops in schools and colleges across the South.
Wayne Flynt is the author of fourteen books, most recently Mockingbird Songs: My Friendship with Harper Lee, which recounts his relationship with the beloved Alabama author during her final years. Among his other works are Poor But Proud: Alabama’s Poor Whites, Alabama in the Twentieth Century, and the memoir Keeping the Faith. Two of these books have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and one won the Lillian Smith Award for non-fiction (the oldest and most highly regarded book prize in the South, given by the Southern Regional Council). Two of them have won the Alabama Library Association prize for best works of non-fiction. Three times he has won the James Sulzby book award for best work on Alabama history (awarded by the Alabama Historical Association), and three times the University of Alabama Press has bestowed the McMillan prize on his manuscripts as the best received in history. Dr. Flynt is a community activist, serving for a decade on the American Cancer Society’s Committee for the Socio-economically Disadvantaged, was a co-founder of both the Alabama Poverty Project (now called Alabama Possible) and Sowing Seeds of Hope (Perry County). He has also served on the boards of Voices for Alabama’s Children and the A+ education reform coalition. In 1993 he served at the request of Gov. James E. Folsom, Jr. and Circuit Judge Eugene Reese as the court facilitator in the Alabama equity funding lawsuit.
Joe Formichella is a multiple literary award winner, including a Hackney Literary Award (short fiction) and a 2008 Foreword magazine nonfiction book of the year (Murder Creek). He was also a finalist for a national IPPY award for true crime (Murder Creek), a finalist for a New Letters Literary Prize, and a Pushcart Prize nominee. A new novel, Caduceus, is due out within the year. He lives near Fairhope, at Waterhole Branch Productions, with his wife, author Suzanne Hudson.
Since 2001, C.C. Fridlin has invited home cooks into his kitchen to show them how to elevate their cuisine. His relatable, easy-to-follow approach keeps demand for his classes high, which ultimately led him to create his first cookbook, Step by Step Italian: Recipes from CC’s Cooking Classes. His love for Italian food, culture, and history started with his first trip to Italy after college graduation and has continued through multiple trips back through the years. Although he has always enjoyed a good meal, C.C. jump-started his professional culinary experience as an assistant at an Austin, Texas, cooking school where he learned from a variety of leading chefs and cookbook authors. In addition to his own cooking classes, he also instructs at cooking schools in Alabama and Georgia. He is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and has served as its Chair of the Cooking Schools and Teachers Interest Section.
Charles Ghigna, aka Father Goose®, lives in a treehouse in the middle of Alabama. He is the author of more than 100 books from Random House, Simon & Schuster, Time Inc., Disney, Hyperion, Scholastic, Abrams, Boyds Mills Press, Charlesbridge, Capstone, Orca and other publishers, and more than 5000 poems for children and adults in newspapers and magazines ranging from The New Yorker and Harper’s to Highlights and Cricket magazines. He served as poet-in-residence and chair of creative writing at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, instructor of creative writing at Samford University, poetry editor of English Journal for the National Council of Teachers of English, and as a nationally syndicated poetry feature writer for Tribune Media Services. He speaks at schools, conferences, libraries, and literary events throughout the U.S. and overseas, and has read his poems at The Library of Congress, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the American Library in Paris, the American School in Paris, and the International Schools of South America. For more information, visit his website at FatherGoose.com.
Silvia Giagnoni is an associate professor in the Department of Communication and Theatre at Auburn University Montgomery. She divides her time between Alabama and Tuscany. She has published essays and books in English and Italian, including Fields of Resistance: The Struggle of Florida’s Farmworkers for Justice. In Here We May Rest: Alabama Immigrants in the Age of HB 56, she takes an investigative look into the lives of new immigrants in the South, exploring the effects of Alabama immigration law and restrictive legislation on families, communities, and the nation as a whole.
Lamar Giles writes novels and short stories for teens. He is the author of the 2015 Edgar Award Nominee Fake ID, a second YA thriller Endangered, a third currently untitled YA novel from HarperCollins, as well as the YA novel Overturned from Scholastic Press. He is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books (www.weneeddiversebooks.org ), a non-profit dedicated to changing the face of publishing. Lamar has spoken and taught at a number of middle schools, high schools, and for prestigious conferences such as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Virginia Children’s Book Festival, and BookExpo America. His work has been featured on NPR, CNN, Flavorwire, and Mother Nature Network and in Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and many others.
Anthony Ray Hinton
Anthony Ray Hinton, death row exoneree, shares his story of wrongful conviction, survival on Alabama's death row, and his decades-long journey to exoneration and freedom in The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row. In 1985, Mr. Hinton was convicted of the unsolved murders of two fast-food restaurant managers based on the testimony of ballistics experts for the state who claimed that the crime bullets came from a dusty revolver found in Mr. Hinton's mother’s closet. Without the benefit of a competent expert to challenge ballistics experts, an all-white jury convicted Mr. Hinton, and he was sentenced to death. After years of his petitioning to have the revolver re-analyzed, three independent experts concluded that the bullets could not have been fired from that revolver, and that they could not even have all been fired from a single gun. Mr. Hinton is now free after thirty years, and will join us to share his story and discuss and the changes that need to be made to prevent these types of injustices from happening to other innocent people.
Often compared to great writers like Eudora Welty, Rebecca Wells, and Jan Karon, Lynne Hinton is the author of twenty-one books, including the NY Times Bestseller Friendship Cake and Pie Town, the 2011 National Federation of Press Women’s Fiction Book of the Year. She has penned a mystery series under the name Jackie Lynn and two nonfiction books under the name Lynne Branard, The Art of Arranging Flowers and Traveling Light. An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, she has served as a hospice chaplain and as a senior pastor in North Carolina and in New Mexico, as well as the interim pastor in northeastern Washington. She and her husband currently live in Guilford County, North Carolina, where she serves as co-pastor of Mount Hope UCC. Her website is www.lynnehinton.com; her latest novel is The View From Here.
Linda Howard, the “Queen of Romantic Suspense,” is the award-winning author of numerous New York Times bestsellers, including Up Close and Dangerous, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Cover of Night, Killing Time, To Die For, Kiss Me While I Sleep, Cry No More, and Dying to Please. She lives in Gadsden, Alabama with her husband and two golden retrievers. Her current novel is The Woman Left Behind, about which Booklist—in a starred review—raved: “High-adrenaline action and high-octane passion once again prove to be an irresistible combination in best-selling Howard’s latest addictive suspense novel... the literary equivalent of pure gold.”
Suzanne Hudson is the prize-winning author of two novels and two collections of short stories, and her short fiction and essays have been widely anthologized. Two books are due out this year: Second Sluthood, Second E-dition (Being a Manifesto for the Post-menopausal, Pre-senilic Matriarch); and The Fall of the Nixon Administration: A Comic Novel. Hudson lives near Fairhope, Alabama, at Waterhole Branch Productions, with her husband, author Joe Formichella.
Peter Huggins is the author of seven books of poems, including Audubon’s Engraver and South, both shortlisted for the International Rubery Book Award, and three books of fiction for children. His first picture book, Trosclair and the Alligator, appeared on the PBS show Between the Lions; in addition, Trosclair received a Mom’s Choice Award, was selected as a best book by CCBC at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and by Bank Street College of Education, and was a Benjamin Franklin Award finalist. In its starred review Kirkus Reviews calls his newly released picture book, Thibodeaux and the Fish, “a delightful story.” His other work of fiction for children is the middle-grade novel, In the Company of Owls. Among his other awards and honors, Peter has been a Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and has received a Literature Fellowship in Poetry from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. He has recently retired after teaching thirty-one years in the English Department at Auburn University.
Honoree Fanonne Jeffers
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers is the 2018 recipient of the Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer of the Year. A tenured full professor who has taught creative writing at the University of Oklahoma for fifteen years, Jeffers is the author of The Glory Gets (Wesleyan University Press, 2015), Red Clay Suite (Southern Illinois University Press, 2007), Outlandish Blues (Wesleyan University Press, 2003), and The Gospel of Barbecue (Kent State University Press, 2000), which was selected by Lucille Clifton to win the Stan and Tom Wick poetry prize and in 2001 was a Paterson Poetry Prize finalist. Her work has also appeared in a wide range of contemporary journals including Ploughshares, Crab Orchard Review, Georgetown Review, Callaloo, Iowa Review, Oxford American, Prairie Schooner, and Poetry. Her poetry has also been included in anthologies edited by some of the most important poets working today, such as Kevin Smith, Cornelius Eady, Toi Derricote, and Nikki Finney.
Brandie B. Johnson
Brandie B. Johnson in the managing partner of Read Herring—formerly The NewSouth Bookstore—an independent bookstore in downtown Montgomery. She interned for NewSouth Books, an independent publisher housed in the same building as the bookstore. In 2017 she was bewitched by the bookstore and left her job with a trade association to rejoin the NewSouth family. In her spare time, Brandie enjoys baking, crocheting, playing with her two dogs, and spending time with her husband.
Mark A. Johnson
Mark A. Johnson is the author of An Irresistible History of Alabama Barbecue, published by The History Press. Originally from Milwaukee, Mark graduated in 2016 with a PhD in history from the University of Alabama. Previously, he earned an MA from the University of Maryland and BA from Purdue University. As a professional historian, he specializes in the history of the United States and the U.S. South.
Andrea Jurjević is a poet and translator from Rijeka, Croatia. Her work has appeared in EPOCH, TriQuarterly, Best New Poets, The Missouri Review, The Florida Review, Gulf Coast, The Southern Humanities Review, and many other literary journals. Her first poetry collection, Small Crimes, won the 2015 Philip Levine Prize, and her translation of Mamasafari, a collection of prose poems in Croatian by Olja Savičević Ivančević, is forthcoming from Lavender Ink / Diálogos. She is a recipient of a Robinson Jeffers Tor Prize, a Tennessee Williams Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and a Hambidge Fellowship. She works as a Lecturer in English at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia.
Kelly Kazek is the unofficial Weird News Reporter of Alabama. She writes humor columns and stories about odd roadside attractions and quirky history for AL.com, Alabama’s largest media presence. She also writes about the south for It’s a Southern Thing and on her blog, KellyKazek.com. She is the author of nine books, including the humor collections Not Quite Right: Mostly True Tales of a Weird News Reporter, published by Solomon & George, and Fairly Odd Mother: Musings of a Slightly Off Southern Mom. In her thirty-two-year career in journalism, she has won more than 180 state and national press awards, including two Alabama Associated Press Sweepstakes Awards for best story of the year, and national honors for Best Humorous Commentary and Feature Writer of the Year. She was editor of the newspaper in Athens, Alabama, for 11 years and twice served as president of the Alabama Associated Press Media Editors. She describes herself as a “middle-aged newlywed,” and lives in Huntsville with Sweetums, her husband of one year.
P. F. Kluge
Born in New Jersey, P.F. Kluge attended Kenyon College and the University of Chicago, and served in the U.S. Peace Corps (in Micronesia). He has worked as a reporter at the Wall Street Journal and as an editor at Life Magazine, where in 1972 he co-authored a riveting account of a New York bank robbery that inspired the classic film Dog Day Afternoon starring Al Pacino. A few years later, he published the classic rock ‘n’ roll novel Eddie and the Cruisers, which was also made into a popular film in 1983. During a distinguished career in journalism he wrote for Playboy, Rolling Stone, and Smithsonian, and he remains a contributing editor at National Geographic Traveler. As Writer-in-Residence at Kenyon College, Kluge has helped shape the talents of several successful authors, including John Green. In addition to Eddie, his novels include the popular Bigger Elvis, A Call from New Jersey, and The Master Blaster. His current novel is The Williamson Turn.
L. Erin Miller
L. Erin Miller is a graduate of Auburn University in Elementary Education and taught school for six years before choosing to become a stay-at-home mom. She is the author of Fighting For Kate: The Inspirational Story of a Family’s Battle and Victory over Cancer, a member of the Family Advisory Council for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and is the founder and president of the nonprofit organization Fighting For Kate. Erin resides in Madison, Alabama with her husband and three children.
Carlos Morrison is Professor of Communications in the Department of Communications at Alabama State University. He received his BA in both Mass Communication (emphasis in Broadcasting) and Human Communication from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, his MA in Communication Theory and Rhetoric from the University of Alabama and his PhD in Intercultural Communication and African American Communication from the School of Communication at Howard University in Washington, DC. Dr. Morrison teaches courses in both Communication Studies and Mass Communications. His publications focus on Black popular Culture and Communication, Black comics, the rhetoric of rap music (with an emphasis on Tupac Shakur), Black Masculinity and the Mediated images of Tyler Perry’s Madea’s character. Professionally, Dr. Morrison worked as both a journalist and as a copy writer at Thom Gossom Communication in Birmingham, Alabama in the late 1980s to 1990s.
Eric Motley grew up as the son of adoptive grandparents who raised him in the freed slave’s town of Madison Park, just outside of Montgomery, Alabama. From this beginning in the black community he rose to become a special assistant to President George W. Bush. Today he serves as Executive Vice President of The Aspen Institute, which on a national and international level discusses global issues that face the United States and her partners across the world. Eric tells the story of his proud black Alabama roots in his memoir, Madison Park: A Place of Hope, one of the most acclaimed inspirational books of the year, testifying to the values of faith, family, and community.
Derryn E. Moten
Derryn E. Moten is professor and chair of the history and political science department at Alabama State University, formerly, Alabama State College, and formerly, the department of history that Dr. L. D. Reddick chaired from 1955 until 1960. Inspired by Reddick's courageous response to the crushing pressure he faced to quell Alabama State's participation in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Moten has spearheaded a sixtieth-anniversary edition of Reddick's 1959 biography of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Crusader Without Violence, the first MLK biography. Moten's introduction places the biography in its proper context, updates Reddick's life after he was forced to leave his teaching position in Montgomery, and explains why Crusader Without Violence―notwithstanding the hundreds of books published on King's life since this one―remains a significant historical document. Moten received his doctorate at the University of Iowa in American Studies. His 1997 Iowa dissertation "A Gruesome Warning to Black Girls: The August 16, 1912 execution of Virginia Christian” provides the inspiration for Forsaken, a novel by Ross Howell, Jr.
Laura Murray has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design. After working more than fifteen years in the corporate design world, she has turned her attention to something she loves and has been doing for as long as she can remember - drawing. Laura loves collecting coloring books and has found inspiration for this book in the region that she calls home - going on weekend trips, touring local museums, and driving through small towns. When she’s not endlessly sketching anything she can imagine, Laura spends time with her husband, children, and pets at home in Auburn, AL cooking, watching old movies, reading, sewing, painting, and (of course) drawing. See more of Laura’s work at www.lauramurraycreative.com.
Sandra O’Donnell, Ph.D., is a founding partner of RO Literary. She studied writing at the graduate level at the University of Utah while working on her Master’s degree. After university, Sandra went on to ghostwrite, edit and co-author books for the academic market. She later earned a Ph.D. in History from Arizona State. A stint with Snowgoose Cove Publishing led to her career as a sought-after book coach, for fiction and nonfiction authors. As a book coach, she helped authors find the core of their story, then move from early draft to polished manuscript. Many of the authors she worked with went on to find excellent agents, editors, and publishers. However, a few authors saw their projects languished once they have left Sandra's charge. When frustrated authors asked why she couldn’t guide them through the next stage with the care and success she’d used shown during the development phase of their books, Sandra explored becoming an agent. After much consideration and discussion, she and her co-partner Laura Rothschild, formed RO Literary.
Alexis Okeowo is a staff writer for the New Yorker and a screenwriter. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, the Financial Times, Time, and Fortune, among many other publications. The daughter of immigrant parents, Okeowo grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, and attended Princeton University. She was based in Lagos, Nigeria, from 2012 to 2015, and now lives in Brooklyn. Her first book, A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa, is a vivid narrative of Africans who are courageously resisting their continent’s wave of fundamentalism. It is a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and has been named a finalist for a Pen America Literary Award.
Ash Parsons is the author of Still Waters and The Falling Between Us. She is a PEN America Literary Award winner for the Phyllis Naylor Fellowship and a Literary Arts Fellow for the Alabama State Council on the Arts. She has been involved and child and youth advocacy since college, and previously taught English to middle and high school students in a county school. She lives in Alabama with her family.
Amy Pence authored the poetry collections Armor, Amour (Ninebark Press), The Decadent Lovely (Main Street Rag), and the chapbook, Skin’s Dark Night (2River Press). She has been honored with the Claire Keyes Poetry Award and has published in a variety of journals, including The Antioch Review, The Oxford American, and Juked. In addition to publishing short fiction, book reviews, and interviews, Pence’s critical essay on Dickinson: “Many White Dresses: Emily Dickinson & Her Biographers” was featured in The Writer’s Chronicle. She received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona, and grew up in New Orleans and Las Vegas. She now lives in Pine Lake, Georgia.
Gin Phillips is the author of five novels, ranging from historical fiction to a literary thriller to children’s stories. Her debut novel, The Well and the Mine, was the winner of the 2009 Barnes & Noble Discover Award. Since then her work has been sold in 29 countries. Her latest novel, Fierce Kingdom, was named one of the Best Books of 2017 by The New York Times and Publishers Weekly, as well as listed among the Best Fiction of 2017 by Kirkus Reviews. Born in Montgomery, Al., Gin graduated from Birmingham-Southern College with a degree in political journalism. She worked as a magazine writer for more than a decade. She currently lives in Birmingham with her family.
Hanna Raskin is the food editor and chief critic of The Post and Courier, the South’s oldest daily newspaper and winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for public service. During her first full year in Charleston, Raskin wrote and directed a documentary on camp meeting fried chicken that was honored with an IACP nomination, and was named the nation’s best food blogger by the Association of Food Journalists. More recently, in partnership with the Southern Foodways Alliance, she produced the paper’s first podcast, an exploration of Gujarati kitchens concealed behind the check-in desks of Southeastern motels; she now co-hosts “The Winnow,” a weekly podcast about food and beverage in the American South. The winner of the Association of Food Journalists’ awards for “Best Restaurant Criticism” and “Best Food Business Story” and the James Beard Foundation’s inaugural award for Local Impact, created “to recognize the work of an individual who displays enterprise and excellence in ongoing local food coverage,” she previously served as restaurant critic for the Seattle Weekly and the Dallas Observer. In 2013, she published “Yelp Help: How to Write Great Online Restaurant Reviews,” which received an M.F.K. Fisher Award from Les Dames Escoffier International.
Michelle Richmond is the author of the story collections Hum and The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress. Her 2017 novel The Marriage Pact has been published in 30 languages. Her previous novels are Golden State, No One You Know, Dream of the Blue Room, and the international bestseller The Year of Fog. Michelle has received the Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize, the Grace Paley Prize in Fiction, the Hillsdale Award for Fiction from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and the Mississippi Review Fiction Prize. She has served as Distinguished Visiting Writer at Bowling Green State University, St. Mary’s College of Moraga, and Notre Dame de Namur University, and has taught in the MFA programs in creative writing at The University of San Francisco and California College of the Arts. A native of Mobile and a graduate of the University of Alabama, she makes her home in California. She is the 2018 recipient of the Truman Capote Prize awarded at the Alabama Literary Symposium in Monroeville.
Lilliam Rivera is an award-winning writer and author of The Education of Margot Sanchez, a contemporary young adult novel available now from Simon & Schuster. The novel was nominated for a 2017 Best Fiction for Young Adult Fiction by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). Named a "2017 Face to Watch" by the Los Angeles Times, Lilliam is also a 2016 Pushcart Prize winner and a 2015 Clarion alumni. Her work has appeared in Lenny Letter, Tin House, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today, to name a few. Her second young adult novel Dealing In Dreams is forthcoming by Simon & Schuster in March 2019. Lilliam lives in Los Angeles.
Neil Shepard’s new book, Selected Poems, will be published in spring 2018 by Salmon Poetry (Ireland). His sixth and seventh books of poetry were published in 2015: Hominid Up (Salmon Poetry), and a full collection of poems and photographs, Vermont Exit Ramps II, (Green Writers Press, Vermont). His poems appear in several hundred literary magazines, among them Harvard Review, Paris Review, Southern Review, and Sewanee Review, as well as online at Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and Poem-A-Day (from the Academy of American Poets). Shepard has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland, and he has been a visiting writer at the Chautauqua Writers Institute, The Frost Place, and Ossabaw Island Writers Retreat. He founded and directed for eight years the Writing Program at the Vermont Studio Center; he also founded the literary magazine Green Mountains Review and was the Senior Editor for a quarter-century. He currently splits his time between Vermont and New York City, where he teaches poetry workshops at Poets House.
John S. Sledge
John S. Sledge is senior architectural historian for the Mobile Historic Development Commission and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. He is the author of Cities of Silence: A Guide to Mobile’s Historic Cemeteries (University of Alabama Press) and The Mobile River. He and his wife, Lynn, live in Fairhope. His current book, These Rugged Days: Alabama in the Civil War, provides an accessibly written and riveting account of the Yellowhammer State’s wartime saga. Focused on the conflict’s turning points within Alabama’s borders, it charts residents’ experiences from secession’s heady early days to its tumultuous end, when 75,000 blue-coated soldiers were on the move statewide. Sledge details this eventful history using an impressive array of primary and secondary materials, including official records, diaries, newspapers, memoirs, correspondence, sketches, and photographs.
Lady Vowell Smith, PhD, is the owner of The Snail on the Wall, which launched in November 2017 as a full-service independent bookstore without a storefront. The Snail on the Wall (www.snailonthewall.com) is based in Huntsville, Alabama, and serves readers of all ages, book clubs, businesses, and other school and community groups. Lady has made a career out of reading, writing, editing, and teaching. She has worked as an in-house editor for several magazines, including Southern Living and Coastal Living, and as a freelance editor for both publishers and writers. She began The Snail on the Wall as a blog several years ago, in an attempt to connect readers with books and writing that will inspire, challenge, and interest them. She follows that same mission now as an independent bookseller, serving the community of readers in Huntsville and beyond.
Doug Stutsman is a native of Athens, Georgia, but attended high school and college in Macon. He graduated from Tattnall Square Academy in 2003 and received a finance degree from Mercer University in 2007. Ultimately, his love for sports won out, and he's covered an array of subjects for the Augusta Chronicle since 2013. Though raised by Auburn University graduates, he was never able to suppress his curiosity for UGA traditions, and ultimately spent years researching his first book, The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry: Auburn vs. Georgia (Arcadia Publishing). Regardless of the colors you don, come the second week of November, no one can deny the rich history of a contest woven through three centuries of competition.
Adam Vines is an assistant professor of English at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he is editor of the Birmingham Poetry Review and Director of the English Honors Program. He has published poems in Poetry, Kenyon Review, Southwest Review, The Literary Review, The Hopkins Review, Barrow Street, Five Points, Green Mountains Review, 32 Poems, among others. He is the author of Out of Speech (LSU Press, 2018) and The Coal Life (U of Arkansas P, 2012) and coauthor of Day Kink (Unicorn Press, 2018) and According to Discretion (Unicorn Press, 2015).
Jeff Weddle is the Welty Prize winning author of Bohemian New Orleans: The Story of the Outsider and Loujon Press. His books include, among others, a short story collection, When Giraffes Flew, and the poetry collections, Comes to This and Heart of the Broken World. Jeff teaches in the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama.
Patti White is the author of four poetry collections, Tackle Box (2002), Yellow Jackets (2007), Chain Link Fence (2013), and Pink Motel (2017), all from Anhinga Press. Her work has appeared in journals including Iowa Review, Missouri Review, Slippery Elm, New Madrid, North American Review, Nimrod, Forklift Ohio, and DIAGRAM. She teaches creative writing at the University of Alabama. Her current project is a novella with eight narrators, a tornado outbreak, the somewhat undead, and the mysterious disappearance of the state of Mississippi.
Allen Wier (pronounced Wire) has published four novels: Tehano (Southern Methodist University Press, 2006), A Place for Outlaws (Harper & Row, 1989), Departing as Air (Simon & Schuster, 1983), and Blanco (LSU Press, 1978, Avon/Bard 1980, and Harper & Row 1989), and a collection of stories, Things About to Disappear (LSU Press, 1978 and Avon/Bard, 1980). Wier’s fiction, essays, and reviews appear in such publications as The Southern Review, Five Points, The Georgia Review, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, and the New York Times. He was named Travel Writer of the Year 1994 by the Alabama Bureau of Travel. He is a recipient of the Robert Penn Warren Award conferred by the Fellowship of Southern Writers and the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature. He is also a Guggenheim fellow and the winner of a National Endowment for the Arts grant winner. Late Night, Early Morning, a volume of his new and selected stories, was published by the University of Tennessee Press in October 2017.
Matt Williams acquired his first comic book at the age of three and continues to enjoy them today, almost 40 years later. He shares his love of comics, and stories in general, as the librarian at the Pike Road Branch of the Montgomery City-County Public Library system.
Kate Wood is the self-taught baker, writer, and photographer behind the Wood and Spoon blog. After studying nutrition and dietetics at Samford University, Kate went on to get her master’s degrees at UAB. She worked as a clinical dietitian for several years and only recently made the jump to full-time food blogging. Her site, focused on baking, desserts, and Southern-inspired dishes, won a 2017 Saveur Blog Award for “Best Baking & Sweets,” and her work has been featured by Food & Wine, the James Beard Foundation, Martha Stewart, and several other publications. In the future, Kate hopes to author books from her cozy town of Selma, Alabama where she and her husband are raising two toddlers.
Louise Agee Wrinkle
As a founder, board member, and now director emerita of the Garden Conservancy, Louise Agee Wrinkle has poured a lifelong devotion to nature and horticulture into a beautifully ruminative memoir called Listen to the Land: Creating a Southern Woodland Garden. Since returning to her childhood home in Mountain Brook, Alabama thirty years ago, Louise has cared for the magnificent property her family first settled before the area was incorporated, when it remained largely "an environment of unspoiled woods and streams." Honing in on her philosophy of minimalist gardening, Listen to the Land celebrates the joys of allowing native flora and fauna to speak for themselves, without imposing a design scheme, while mingling childhood memories with advice to aspiring gardeners. Louise is a member of the Garden Club of America and has served on the boards both of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Aldridge Gardens. She is also the mother of Margaret Wrinkle, whose novel Wash was a highlight of the 2013 book festival.
Warren Zanes is the New York Times bestselling author of Petty: The Biography, whose subject, the late rock icon Tom Petty, personally selected Dr. Zanes to write his life story. A Grammy-nominated documentary producer, he served for ten years as the Executive Director of Steven Van Zandt’s Rock and Roll Forever Foundation (RRFF). A former VP of Education and Programs at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Warren has taught at several American universities, including Case Western Reserve University, University of Rochester, New York University, and The School of Visual Arts. His writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, the Oxford American, and more. His other books include Dusty in Memphis, the very first volume in the popular 33-1/3 pocket book series, and Revolutions in Sound: Fifty Years of Warner Bros. Records. He collaborated with Garth Brooks on Brooks’ Anthology series and has written liner notes for projects including George Harrison’s Let It Roll and Elvis Presley: The Searcher. After conducting interviews for Martin Scorsese’s George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Zanes acted as Consulting Producer for the Oscar-winning Twenty Feet from Stardom and was a producer on the 8-part PBS series Soundbreaking, executive produced by Beatles producer George Martin. A former member of Warner Bros. recording artists The Del Fuegos, he has released four solo recordings, including the most recent, The Biggest Bankrupt City in the World.