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2015 Festival Authors and Workshop Leaders

Thanks to all the wonderful authors who have participated in the Alabama Book Festival since its beginning. Take a look at the list below for this year's authors - maybe you'll discover a new favorite! You can find a complete list of all previous Festival authors by clicking here.

This list grows as our authors confirm their participation in the 2015 Festival. Check back soon to see what's changed!

Alabama Readers Theatre   

Addie Pray (fiction, dramatic reading)

4:00 p.m. - 4:45 p.m. in the Church

As a special feature of this year's Festival, the Southern Literary Trail will sponsor a reading from “Addie Pray,” Joe David Brown’s novel of con games in Depression-era Alabama, by members of the Alabama Readers Theatre. Addie was depicted by actress Tatum O’Neal in “Paper Moon,” Hollywood’s 1973 version of the book transplanted to Kansas.  

Nathaniel Allen
Workshop: Introduction to Sequential Arts (aka Comic Book Creation) 
1:00 - 2:00 p.m. in the Loeb Center auditorium

Nathaniel Allen III was born in the Mississippi Delta but grew up primarily in Lansing, MI. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from Michigan State University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from the University of Mississippi. He has worked as a website production assistant and commercial printer and has owned and operated a retail store specializing in art supplies, comic books, cult movie rentals, and toys. Allen has taught art courses at universities and museums in Michigan and Tennessee teaches now at Alabama State University. He has created commissioned portraits, mural paintings, book and magazine illustrations, and logo designs and has won a variety of awards in juried art exhibitions and had sequential artwork published in the British horror anthology Hallowscream. Allen is developing an independent comic book project, “Eclectic Worlds,” which will be completed in 2015. He is vice president of the Montgomery Art Guild and co-founder of the Atrium Art Group. Nathaniel Allen and Alfonza Hobbie will lead the writing workshop Introduction to Sequential Arts (aka Comic Book Creation).

Lou Anders
Thrones & Bones: Frostborn (middle-grade fantasy adventure)
11:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon in the North Tent

Lou Anders's research on Norse mythology while writing his first middle-grade readers novel, Thrones and Bones: Frostborn, turned into a love affair with Viking culture and a first visit to Norway. He hopes the series will appeal to boys and girls equally, and invented a board game that is important to the books. Random House has built an online game for the book at Anders is the recipient of a Hugo Award for editing and a Chesley Award for art direction and has published over 500 articles and stories on science fiction and fantasy television and literature. The second book in the series, Nightborn, will be released in July. A prolific speaker, Anders regularly attends writing conventions around the country. He and his family reside in Birmingham. In addition to talking about his book, he will help celebrate International TableTop Day by leading a session on how to play the Thrones and Bones board game.

Marlin Barton

Pasture Art: Stories (short fiction)

1:45-2:25 p.m. in the Log Cabin Tent

Marlin Barton
is from the Black Belt region of Alabama. His most recent book is Pasture Art, a collection of short stories. He has published two novels, The Cross Garden and A Broken Thing, and two previous collections, The Dry Well, which received the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook Award for the best first volume of short stories published in 2001, and Dancing by the River. His stories have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies, including Shenandoah, the Southern Review, the Virginia Quarterly Review, the Sewanee Review, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and The Best American Short Stories. He teaches in, and helps direct, the Writing Our Stories project, a program for juvenile offenders in Alabama. He also teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Converse College.

Gray Basnight
Shadows in the Fire (fiction)
2:30-3:00 p.m. in Molton House

Gray Basnight is a native of Richmond, Virginia. For almost three decades he worked in New York City as a broadcast news writer, editor, producer, and reporter. He is now deeply immersed in fiction writing. His first novel, The Cop with the Pink Pistol, received rave reviews from Library Journal and Kirkus and still available on Gray lives in New York with his wife, Lisa, and their golden retriever, Tinta. You can reach him at or on Facebook.

Rick Bragg

Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story (biography)

10:45-11:30 a.m. in the South Tent

Rick Bragg was born and raised in rural Alabama. He has worked as a reporter for the Anniston Star, the Birmingham News, the St. Petersburg Times, and the New York Times. He was awarded a Harvard University Nieman Fellowship and has received more than  fifty writing awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing, the American Society of Newspaper Editors Distinguished Writing Award, and the Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer of the Year. Bragg has published a family trilogy (All Over But the Shoutin’, Ava’s Man, and The Prince of Frogtown); Somebody Told Me: The Newspaper Stories of Rick Bragg; I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story. His latest book is Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story.

Kimberly Brown

Queen Like Me (children's)

10:00-10:30 a.m. in the North Tent

Kimberly Brown is an assistant professor of history at Alabama State University. Researching 20th-century African American women and the politics of beauty, she earned a PhD at Howard University. She has worked in Washington, D.C., as a Goldman Sachs Multicultural Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History. She is a former Miss Florida A&M University, Miss Black Alabama, and host for the Miss Africa USA Pageant and is the orientation manager for the Miss Black USA Pageant and Scholarship Organization. She curated “Groomed for Greatness,” an exhibit displayed for three years at the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site (National Park Service). She advocates history education as the optimum guide for self-determination and personal development, and she travels extensively to fulfill this mission. 

Ashley Chambers

The Clumsy Women Creepeth Forward (poetry)

1:00-1:30 p.m. in the Church

Ashley Chambers is a writer and artist living in Tuscaloosa, where she is an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama. Her recent writing appears in or is forthcoming from Sonora Review, the Pinch Journal, Front Porch Journal, the Seattle Review, Quarterly West, and Bellevue Literary Review, among others. Her first chapbook, The Clumsy Women Creepeth Forward, is forthcoming from Similar Peaks Press in 2015. She was a finalist for the 2014 Sawtooth Poetry Contest. Her prose has received honorable mentions in Bellevue Literary Review’s 2013 Fiction Contest and Gulf Coast’s 2013 Fiction Contest.

James E. Cherry
Loose Change (poetry)
11:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon in the Church

James E. Cherry is the author of a collection of short fiction, a novel, and three volumes of poetry. His latest collection of poetry is Loose Change. He has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award and a Lillian Smith Book Award and was a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Award. Cherry has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Texas at El Paso. He lives in Jackson, TN, with his wife and is preparing a novel for publication.  

Loretta Cobb
Alabama Readers Theatre dramatic reading from Addie Pray (fiction)
4:00-4:45 p.m. in the Church

Loretta Cobb is founder and director emeritus of the Harbert Writing Center at the University of Montevallo. A graduate with honors from the University of Montevallo and Bread Loaf School of English in Vermont, she has written corporate histories and profiles for Contemporary Novelists; published academic essays, poetry, and a collection of stories; edited several published books; and written for the Birmingham News. She is participating the Alabama Readers Theatre dramatic reading from Addie Pray.

William Cobb
Alabama Readers Theatre dramatic reading from Addie Pray (fiction)
4:00-4:45 p.m. in the Church

William Cobb, a native Alabamian, graduated from Livingston State College (now the University of West Alabama) and earned an MA at Vanderbilt University. Now retired, he was writer-in-residence at the University of Montevallo. His short stories have appeared in national literary magazines, and he has published seven novels, a collection of short stories, and several plays. He is participating the Alabama Readers Theatre dramatic reading from Addie Pray.

Reed Farrel Coleman
Robert B. Parker's Blind Spot (fiction)
Workshop: 9:00-10:00 a.m. in the Loeb Center auditorium
Presentation: 2:45-3:15 p.m. in the South Tent

Reed Farrel Coleman, called a hard-boiled poet by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan, is the New York Times Bestselling author of Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone series. He is a three-time recipient of the Shamus Award for Best PI Novel of the Year and a three-time Edgar Award nominee in three different categories. He has also received the Macavity, Audie, Barry, and Anthony Awards. He is as a former executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America and a founding member of Mystery Writers of America University. Coleman is an adjunct instructor of English at Hofstra University. Brooklyn born and raised, he now lives with his family on Long Island. In addition to talking about his book, he is leading the workshop Fiction Writing and the Joys of the Mystery Genre.

Pat Conroy

The Death of Santini (memoir)

11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. in the South Tent

Pat Conroy was the first of seven children of a young career military officer from Chicago and a Southern beauty from Alabama, to whom Pat often credits for his love of language. The family moved frequently to military bases throughout the South, and Conroy attended the Citadel Military Academy in Charleston, SC, where, as a student, he published his first book, The Boo. His second book, The Water is Wide, won Conroy a humanitarian award from the National Education Association. Three of his novels, The Water Is Wide, The Great Santini, and The Prince of Tides, have been made into feature films. Conroy lives in Beaufort, SC, with his wife, novelist Cassandra King. He is the 2015 recipient of Troy University’s Hall-Waters Prize, generously funded through an endowment from Dr. Wade Hall.

T Cooper & Allison Glock-Cooper 

The Changers: Book 2: Oryon (teen fiction)

10:45-11:15 a.m. in the Log Cabin Tent

T Cooper is the author of four novels, including the best-selling Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes; Some of the Parts; and The Beaufort Diaries. His most recent book is the nonfiction Real Man Adventures, and he was also coeditor of A Fictional History of the United States with Huge Chunks Missing. Cooper’s shorter work has appeared in a variety of publications including the New Yorker; the New York Times; the New York Times Magazine; the Believer; O, The Oprah Magazine; One Story; Bomb; Electric Literature; the Brooklyn Review and many others. He is a visiting professor in fiction at Emory University and sometimes writes for television. Cooper is coauthor of the Changers Series, featuring Changers Book One: Drew and Changers Book Two: Oryon.

Allison Glock-Cooper is the author of the New York Times notable book and Whiting Award winner Beauty Before Comfort. Her work has been published in the New York Times; GQ; Rolling Stone; Esquire; the New York Times Magazine; the New Yorker; O, the Oprah Magazine; Elle, Marie Claire and many others. She is a contributing editor for the magazine Garden & Gun, a senior writer at ESPN, a columnist for Southern Living, and the recipient of a GLAAD award. Her first poem was recently published in the New Yorker. She is the coauthor of the Changers Series, featuring Changers Book One: Drew and Changers Book Two: Oryon.

Kim Cross

What Stands in a Storm: Three Days in the Worst Superstorm

 to Hit the South's Tornado Alley (history)

10:00-10:30 a.m. in the South Tent

Kim Cross is an editor-at-large for Southern Living and a feature writer who has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of American Travel Writers, and the Media Industry Newsletter. Her writing has appeared in Outside, Cooking Light, Bicycling, Runner’s World, the Tampa Bay Times, the Birmingham News, the Anniston Star, USA TODAY, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and She lives in Alabama.

Lynn Cullen

Mrs. Poe (fiction), Dear Mr. Washington (children's)

Dear Mr. Washington: 12:15-12:45 in the North Tent

Mrs. Poe: 1:00-1:30 p.m. in Molton House

Lynn Cullen grew up in Fort Wayne, IN, the fifth girl in a family of seven children. She learned to love history combined with traveling while visiting historic sites across the U.S. on annual family camping trips. She attended Indiana University in Bloomington and Fort Wayne and took writing classes at Georgia State. She wrote children’s books as her three daughters were growing up, while working in a pediatric office and, later, at Emory University on the editorial staff of a psychoanalytic journal. While her camping expeditions across the States have become fact-finding missions across Europe, she still loves digging into the past. She does not miss, however, sleeping in musty sleeping bags. Or eating canned fruit cocktail. Cullen is the author of The Creation of Eve, Reign of Madness, and numerous award-winning books for children, She lives in Atlanta with her husband, their dog, and two unscrupulous cats.


Laurie Rothrock Dick

Secrets of the Ladies Mission Society (fiction)

1:00-1:30 p.m. in the Log Cabin Tent

Laurie Rothrock Dick, now living in Atlanta with her husband, Bill, grew up in Spartanburg, S.C., climbing trees and running through the woods with her boxer, Thunder. She attended Converse College and graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism/literary appreciation. She is a former magazine editor, public relations and marketing manager, newspaper feature writer, and ad copywriter who writes nonfiction and fiction. Her work has appeared in national and regional publications such as American History, Aviation History, Reconstruction, Southern Distinction, Atlanta Magazine, and Flight, among others. Her fictitious novel, Deer Out of Season, was a finalist in the Peter Taylor Literary Contest. It revolves around the Civil Rights Movement and a young girl coming to grips with racism. She has two children, David, a Lt. Colonel graduate of the Air Force Academy, and Dana, a former actress, married to a screenwriter in California. 

Charles Farley

The Hotel Monte Sano (fiction)

2:30-3:00 p.m. in Molton House

Charles Farley lives a few blocks from the site of the Hotel Monte Sano in Huntsville. He has worked as a teacher, librarian, and salesman and has written for American Libraries, Library Hi-Tech, Library Journal, and Living Blues. His first book was a biography of blues great Bobby “Blue” Bland, Soul of the Man. His second book, Secrets of San Blas, is a novel based on events surrounding a murder that occurred in the spring of 1938 at the Cape San Blas Lighthouse near Port St. Joe, FL. Its sequel is Secrets of St. Vincent, and the final book of the trilogy is Secrets of St. Joe. Farley’s latest book is a mystery/love story, featuring three precocious teenagers, set at and around the Hotel Monte Sano in the summer of 1892.

Joe Formichella

Waffle House Rules (fiction)

1:00-1:30 p.m. in the Log Cabin Tent

Joe Formichella has been a finalist for a New Letters Literary Prize and a Forward Magazine and national IPPY true crime book of the year award; he was a second-place Texas Graduate Fiction Award winner, a first-place Hackney Literary Award winner, and a Puschcart Prize nominee. His nonfiction book Here’s to You, Jackie Robinson: the Legend of the Prichard Mohawks was installed at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, and the National Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City. He is the author of Staying Ahead of the Posse: the Ben Jobe Story and two novels, The Wreck of the Twilight Limited and Waffle House Rules, and he has had short fiction in Stories from the Blue Moon Café, A State of Laughter, and The Alumni Grille. He is the editor of The Shoe Burnin’: Stories of Southern Soul and lives on Waterhole Branch with his wife, author Suzanne Hudson.

Nimrod Thompson Frazer

Send the Alabamians: World War I Fighters in the Rainbow Division (history)

3:15-3:45 p.m. in Molton House

Nimrod T. Frazer was decorated with the Silver Star for gallantry in action during the Korean War while serving as a tank platoon leader. He graduated from Huntingdon College and Harvard Business School, and Huntingdon awarded him an honorary doctor of letters. A member of the Alabama Business Hall of Fame, Frazer is chairman emeritus of the Enstar Group and holds a trusteeship and corporate board memberships with American and international firms.

Ed Garner

Workshop: Indie Publishing: Opportunities in Independent Publishing

 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. in the Loeb Center auditorium

Edward Garner has worked in all aspects of writing and publishing for over 25 years. He created Mindbridge Press five years ago when he saw a need for quality books focusing on authors with regional connections and appealing to a regional market. He lives in Florence, on the Tennessee River, where he loves to windsurf and kayak. He is one of the leaders of the workshop Indie Publishers: Opportunities in Independent Publishing.

Faye Gibbons

Halley (teen fiction)

1:45-2:15 p.m. in the North Tent

Faye Gibbons was born in the north Georgia mountains and has lived in Alabama most of her life. She is a country woman who loves the rural life. To her, woods and fields seem more like home than city streets and high buildings. She loves dogs, and she loves books, but the most important thing in her life is family: her husband, her sons and their wives, and her six grandchildren. Her stories are for them.

Steve Gierhart

Workshop: Indie Publishing: Opportunities in Independent Publishing

3:00-4:00 p.m. in the Loeb Center auditorium

Dale “Steve” Gierhart, Ardent Writer Press editor, is a retired business manager for the US Army. Based in Huntsville, on Redstone Arsenal, from 1975 to 2010 he managed contracts, finances/accounting, and cost estimating for several missile defense systems. Gierhart is a member of Huntsville Literary Association and is the North Alabama representative for the Board of Directors of the Alabama Writers’ Forum. He hails from Shawnee, OK, but most of his adult life has been spent in the beautiful hills of North Alabama. Steve enjoys writing now that he is retired and plans more excursions of the imagination. He and his wife, Bonny, a retired engineer who worked as a contractor on several NASA and Army programs and who now raises Tennessee Walking Horses, will travel in their retirement (though 15 horses, 4 dogs and 4 cats can crimp the best of plans). Steve will participate in the workshop Indie Publishers: Opportunities in Independent Publishing.

Norman Golar

2:30-3:00 p.m. in the Church

Norman Golar is a poet from Chicago who played with similes and metaphors as a novice while attending Knox College (Galesburg, IL), where he earned a BA in creative writing. He earned an MFA in creative writing and PhD in composition, rhetoric, and English studies at the University of Alabama. Golar is chair of the English department at Stillman College and has participated in the Slash Pine Writers festival in Tuscaloosa. Some of his works may be found online at Poetry Southeast and in print in Touchstone and Temenos. 

Julia Hightower Gregg

Wild Sweet Orange Ride (memoir)

10:00-10:30 a.m. in the Log Cabin Tent

Julia Hightower Gregg is a columnist for the Evansville Courier and Press, a writer, teacher and founding member of Signature Consulting, educational and writing consultants. She is also a founding member of Signature School, a public charter high school in Evansville, IN, consistently ranked among the top schools in the country. She teaches International Baccalaureate English part-time at Signature. Gregg graduated from Sidney Lanier High School in Montgomery and has a BS from Auburn University, an MS from Vanderbilt Peabody College, and an MFA from Murray State University. She lives with her family, including two overindulged retrievers, in Evansville. Her son, James Zachary, lives in Brooklyn, NY, where he is part owner of the Great Georgiana in Ft. Greene. 

Patti Callahan Henry

The Stories We Tell (fiction)

3:30-4:00 p.m. in the South Tent

Patti Callahan Henry grew up in Philadelphia, the daughter of an Irish minister, and moved south with her family when she was 12. Since being a novelist was “unrealistic,” she graduated from Auburn University with a degree in nursing and Georgia State University with a master’s degree in child health. She left nursing to raise her children and, early in the mornings while the children were still asleep, began writing down the stories that had always been in her head. When her 6-year-old daughter told her that she wanted “to be a writer of books” when she grew up, Henry realized writing was her own dream as well. She began taking writing classes at Emory University, attending weekend writers’ conferences, and educating herself about the publishing industry, rising at 4:30 a.m. to write. Now a New York Times bestselling author, she has published ten novels. Her latest, The Idea of Love, will be released by St. Martin’s Press in June. She has been shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and nominated four different times for the Southeastern Independent Booksellers Novel of the Year. Her work is published in five languages and in audiobook. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines including Good Housekeeping, South, Southern Living, and skirt! Two of her novels were Okra Picks, and one was selected for an Indie Next List. She is a frequent speaker at fundraisers, library events, and book festivals. A full-time writer, wife, and mother of three, she lives in Mountain Brook, AL.

Alfonza Lee Hobbie
Workshop: Introduction to Sequential Arts (aka Comic Book Creation)
1:00-2:00 p.m. in the Loeb Center auditorium

Alfonza Lee Hobbie, a native of Montgomery, is an artist, writer, and retired Army instructor.  Four years ago he began a career an independent comic book creator with “HoBB Comics” (, which now has six titles: "Cahobba County,” “G.I. Beans,” and “Little Al” are comedy, and “Tori,” “Hobbie Adventures,” and “Hidden Agenda” are action adventure. Website Comic Book Resources says that “Cahobba County” is a “funny strip with a strong cast of characters that interact well with each other.” Al recently completed his first children’s book. He and Nathaniel Allen are leading the writing workshop Introduction to Sequential Arts (aka Comic Book Creation).

Jennifer Horne
Tell the World You're a Wildflower: Stories (fiction)
1:45-2:15 p.m. in the Log Cabin Tent

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. Her latest book is Tell the World You’re a Wildflower, a collection of short stories in the voices of Southern women and girls.  She is the author of two poetry chapbooks and a poetry collection, Bottle Tree, and the editor of Working the Dirt: An Anthology of Southern Poets. With Wendy Reed, she co-edited the essay collections All Out of Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality and Circling Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality. In 2016 her second collection of poems, Little Wanderer, will be published by in Ireland by Salmon Publishing. In addition to talking about her book, she will perform in the Alabama Readers Theatre dramatic reading from Addie Pray.

Ravi Howard  
Driving the King (fiction)
2:00-2:30 p.m. in the South Tent

Ravi Howard received the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence for the novel Like Trees, Walking. He was a finalist for both the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction. He has recorded commentary for NPR’s All Things Considered, and his work has appeared in the New York Times. His short stories have appeared in Massachusetts Review and Salon. Howard has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Hurston-Wright Foundation, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. He is a Montgomery native, and he lives in Atlanta with his wife and two sons.

Suzanne Hudson

All the Way to Memphis (short fiction)

2:30-3:00 p.m. in the Log Cabin Tent

Suzanne Hudson, as a graduate student in creative writing in 1977, won an international prize for short fiction in a contest judged by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and Toni Morrison. Twenty-three years later her short story collection Opposable Thumbs was a finalist for a John Gardner Fiction Book Award. She has since had short fiction in Stories from the Blue Moon Café, volumes I, II, and IV, The Alumni Grill, Climbing Mt. Cheaha, A Kudzu Christmas, State of Laughter, Men Undressed: Women Writers on the Male Sexual Experience, Delta Blues, and The Shoe Burnin’: Stories of Southern Soul. A second short fiction collection, All the Way to Memphis, came out in 2014. Her first two novels, In a Temple of Trees and In the Dark of the Moon, are set for re-release in the coming year. Hudson lives near Fairhope, AL, on Waterhole Branch with her husband, author Joe Formichella.

Suzanne La Rosa

Workshop: Indie Publishing: Opportunities in Independent Publishing

3:00-4:00 p.m. in the Loeb Center auditorium

Suzanne La Rosa is publisher at NewSouth Books, an independent house based in Montgomery which she cofounded with Randall Williams in 2000. A New York City native, she worked as an editor and publisher in NYC for 16 years prior to relocating to Alabama. She was group publisher at the Taunton Press, directing two book and magazine divisions, and executive director at the Old-House Journal, where she launched its book program. In 1989, while leading a magazine launch for the New York Times Magazine Group, she cofounded Black Dome Press, an independent regional book publisher serving the Hudson River Valley. Earlier in her career, she served in various editorial roles at magazines including Woman’s Day (Hachette), where she was executive editor. In the mid-1990s, in a consulting capacity, she helped found a small group of newspapers serving NYC’s Caribbean community. She was a co-founder of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, which successfully petitioned for national historic designation for the Queens, NY, neighborhood in 1999.

Peter Last

The Birthright Chronicles: Guardians of Magessa (teen fantasy fiction)

2:30-3:00 p.m. in the North Tent

Peter Last was nearly born in an elevator and has been unconventional ever since. He is the sixth of ten children and has had a faith-infused upbringing by south-living Yankee parents. Despite homeschooling from K-12, Last has an expansive social life and has never been locked in a closet. He began his first novel at the age of eleven, receiving such encouragement as “Your book actually isn’t that bad!” He is slogging his way through college, doggedly working toward a degree in Civil Engineering. In his spare time, he writes a blog of short stories, book and movie reviews, and other topics from global warming to pencil sharpeners. His other hobbies include drawing, amateur film directing, and shooting at the range. School, social life, and hobbies have edged out unnecessary activities like sleeping.

Pat Mayer
Two Legs, Bad: Dog Town Tales (short fiction)
2:30-3:00 p.m. in the Log Cabin Tent

Pat Mayer worked for years in the field of psychiatry. She received her early training at the infamous Florida State (Mental) Hospital at Chattahoochee, working with the criminally insane. Her experience in the field of human behavior is reflected in her writing in the development of shocking, comedic, and often poignant characters. She is the author of two novels, Terminal Bend and The Cannibals Said Grace. Her short fiction is featured in several anthologies of southern writers and she has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She’s the winner of the World Limerick Competition, a finalist for the 9th Tartt Fiction Award. Her short story collection, Two Legs, Bad, won the 10th Tartt Fiction Award. She lives in Mobile, AL, with her husband, Paul. 

Jennifer McGraw-Micelli
Captain Tom and Franny (fiction)

10:00-10:30 a.m. in Molton House

Jennifer McGraw-Miceli  discovered her love of writing in 1991 after Captain Tom’s funeral when she started writing, as a catharsis, some memories of her childhood. The story of Captain Tom and Franny grew out of those notes as she recalled the love her mother and father shared. Born to Tom and Frances McGraw, Jennifer lived in Jacksonville Beach, FL, until she was nine. After that the family moved countless times, and Jennifer attended thirteen schools. At eighteen, Jennifer’s love of the theater and acting motivated her to move to New York City where she attended the NY Academy of Theatrical Arts, appeared in several off-Broadway productions, and met her husband, Jerry. She graduated from the Art Institute of Nevada in Las Vegas. In her own words, “The South is a part of my heritage. It is embossed on my soul. All of it. The heat and humidity. The bites of angry mosquitoes after an afternoon downpour. The brilliant blue sky filled with the yellow of the afternoon sun. My eyes never have forgotten the sights, my ears never will forget the sounds, and my mind is still a vault which holds all of the memories that form my southern childhood. I live my adult life in the Southwest. The colors here are a sharp contrast to the colors of the South. The way the sun bounces off the sand and the mountains produces colors not found anywhere else. I traded the blues and greens of the sea and surf for the purples and oranges of the mountains.” Jennifer and her husband live in Las Vegas where she is working on her next novel.

David McRaney 

You Are Now Less Dumb (psychology, science)
1:45-2:15 p.m. in Molton House

David McRaney is an author, journalist, and lecturer who created the You Are Not So Smart blog, books, and podcast. He began a blog about the psychology behind biases, delusions, and fallacies in 2009, and it became an internationally bestselling book, now available in fourteen languages. He hosts a podcast and writes articles; both appear at Boing Boing, and he travels around the planet giving lectures on the topics he covers in his books, blog, and podcast. He has appeared as himself in a national ad campaign for Reebok, and his writing has been featured in ads for Heineken, Duck Tape, and others. McRaney cut his teeth covering Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast and in the Pine Belt region of the Deep South. Since then he has been a beat reporter, editor, photographer, voiceover artist, television host, digital content manager, and everything in between. His writing has been featured in the Atlantic, the New York Post, Salon, Brainpickings, Lifehacker, Gawker, the Huffington Post, and Big Think, among many others. He created and produced The Green Couch Sessions, a TV show focusing on the music of the Deep South., at WDAM-TV. McRaney graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi, where he was named one of the top ten college journalists in the U.S. by the Scripps Howard Foundation and won two William Randolph Hearst awards for writing. Before that he tried waiting tables, working construction, selling leather coasts, building and installing electrical control panels, and owning pet stores. He and his wife, Amanda, life in Hattiesburg, MS.


Ashley McWaters
Whitework (poetry)

12:15-12:45 p.m. in the Church

Ashley McWaters teaches at the University of Alabama, where she also coordinates the Undergraduate Creative Writing Program. Her book of poems, Whitework, was published by Fairy Tale Review Press in 2009; her work has also appeared in the magazines DIAGRAM, Painted Bride Quarterly, Hunger Mountain, Spinning Jenny, Caketrain, and New Orleans Review, among others. She lives in Tuscaloosa with her family and dogs and is currently working on Event Horizon, a book of poems inspired by scientific discovery and outer space. 

Harry Moore

Time's Fool (poetry)

10:00-10:30 a.m. in the Church

Harry Moore is the recipient of the 2014 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award for poetry from Poets & Writers. His poems have appeared in Alabama Literary Review, POEM, South Carolina Review, Avocet, Ship of Fools, Anglican Theological Review, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and other journals. He has two chapbooks to his credit: What He Would Call Them and Time’s Fool. He serves as assistant editor of POEM magazine.  A retired community college English professor, Harry lives with his wife, Cassandra, in Decatur, AL.  

Don Noble

Alabama Readers Theatre dramatic reading from Addie Pray 

4:00-4:45 p.m. in the Church

Don Noble, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Alabama, has been the host of the Emmy-nominated Alabama Public Television literary interview show Bookmark since 1988. Since 2002 his weekly reviews of fiction and nonfiction, mainly Southern, have been broadcast on Alabama Public Radio. He has published widely in American literature, especially Southern literature. In 2000, he received the Eugene Current-Garcia Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Literary Scholar, and in 2013 he received the Wayne Greenhaw Service Award in Recognition of Exemplary Service from the Alabama Humanities Foundation. With Brent Davis, he received a regional Emmy in 1996 for Excellence in Screenwriting for the documentary I’m in the Truth Business: William Bradford Huie. He is participating in the Alabama Readers Theatre presentation from Addie Pray.

Fran Missiline Norris

Indie Publishing: Opportunities in Independent Publishing (workshop)

3:00-4:00 p.m. in the Loeb Center auditorium

Fran Missiline Norris taught English and journalism for 25 years and has been editing for about 20 years – part time, freelance and now full time. She is a past recipient of an ASNE fellowship in journalism and is the editor at River City Publishing in Montgomery She is a participant in the workshop Indie Publishers: Opportunities in Independent Publishing.

Jessie Bishop Powell

The Marriage at the Rue Morgue (fiction)

10:45-11:15 a.m. in Molton House

Jessie Bishop Powell  grew up in rural Ohio, where the only primates were humans. She holds master’s degrees in English and library science from the University of Kentucky and has lived in Montgomery with her husband and their two children since 2008. She’s pretty sure the kids qualify for another category of primate altogether. Published in 2014, The Marriage at the Rue Morgue is the first title in the Rue and Lakeland Series. Publishers Weekly calls it an “intriguing whodunit” and an “appealing read”. Kirkus says it’s “most likely the finest simian cozy to date”. The sequel, The Case of the Red Handed Rhesus, will be available in late 2015. Jessie is working on the third book in the series, The Mysterious Affair of the Spiders. She blogs at, posts to Facebook at, and tweets as @jesterqueen. 

Philip Shirley
The White Lie (fiction)
10:45-11:5 a.m. in Molton House

Philip Shirley's award-winning writing includes fiction, poetry, features, speeches, and business articles in many publications and books. His novel The White Lie was released in 2014 by Mindbridge Press. His short story collection Oh Don’t You Cry For Me was a finalist for the Jefferson Prize and published to critical acclaim. He co-authored a cultural history of professional baseball titled Sweet Spot: 125 Years of Baseball and The Louisville Slugger. He has published two chapbooks of poetry, Four Odd and Endings. In college he was a member of the editorial staff of the Black Warrior Review and later was founder and editor of a small literary press. He is CEO of the South’s oldest ad agency, GodwinGroup, and a long-time board member of the Alabama Writers’ Forum. He is married to painter Virginia Shirley.

Shari Smith

I Am a Town (essays)

3:25-3:45 p.m. in the Log Cabin Tent

Shari Smith is the author of   Am A Town, a contributor to The Shoe Burnin’: Stories of Southern Soul, and the producer of the Shoe Burnin’ Show. She has been published in Thicket Magazine, Wildlife in North Carolina, Western North Carolina Magazine, O. Henry Magazine, Pinestraw Magazine, and Abilene Living, and she has written for Broadcast Music Incorporated

Linda Spalla

Workshop: Indie Publishers: Opportunities in Independent Publishing

 3:00-4:00 p.m. in the Loeb Center auditorium

Linda Spalla was one of the first females in top corporate television management in the deep South, one of the early few for CBS, and the first for the New York Times Broadcast Group. Working her way up the ladder at WHNT-TV in Huntsville, hers was a Cinderella story. Divorced, jobless, and homeless in 1975, she began as a secretary and ended as the president and general manager of the CBS affiliate owned by the New York Times Company. She was also a wife, mother, daughter and community enthusiast who never lost her femininity or her Southern roots. She resides in Huntsville, where she enjoys golfing, reading, being a grandmother, extended travel to Paris, and doing volunteer work in her community. Spalla has three books: Leading Ladies, a leadership book for women; Catch Your Breath: Tender Meditations for Caregivers, offering a wisp of sanity to caregivers; and, coming soon, Bernie and Me: A Paris Love Story, describing her ten years visiting Paris with her best friend and lover, who is a Frenchman.

Heidi Lynn Staples 
Noise Event (poetry)
10:45-11:15 a.m. in the Church

Heidi Lynn Staples was raised in the temperate Southeastern forests of North America, both on and off the Gulf Coastal Plain (aka the Sticks) and has spent several of her adult years living in Europe. She earned an MFA at Syracuse University and a PhD at the University of Georgia and teaches at the University of Alabama. Her debut poetry collection, Guess Can Gallop, was a New Issues Poetry Prize winner, and she has published three additional collections. Her work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Best American Poetry, Chicago Review, Denver Quarterly, Ecotone, Ploughshares, Women’s Studies Quarterly, and elsewhere. She is cofounder and coeditor of Poets for Living Waters, begun as in international response to the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, and of the forthcoming Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoetry Thinks Climate Change.

Bryan Stevenson
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (memoir)
1:00-1:45 p.m. in the South Tent

 photo by Nina Subin

Bryan Stevenson is a widely acclaimed public interest lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping the poor, incarcerated, and condemned. He is founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, which has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults. He has successfully argued several cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and recently won an historic ruling that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger are unconstitutional. EJI has also initiated major new anti-poverty and anti-discrimination efforts. Stevenson has numerous awards, including the ABA Wisdom Award for Public Service, MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Award Prize, Olaf Palme International Prize, ACLU National Medal of Liberty, National Public Interest Lawyer of the Year Award, NAACP Ming Award for Advocacy, Gruber Prize for International Justice, and Ford Foundation Visionaries Award. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government, has been awarded 15 honorary doctorate degrees, and is also a professor of law at New York University.  

Daniel Wallace

The Cat's Pajamas (children's)
10:45-11:15 a.m. in the North Tent

Daniel Wallace was born in Birmingham and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he now teaches. He has worked as a veterinary assistant with his father’s trading company in Japan, in a bookstore, and as an illustrator. He is the author of seven novels and a children’s book; his short stories have been published in a number of anthologies and magazines.

Sheyann Webb-Christburg

Selma, Lord, Selma: Girlhood Memories of the Civil Rights Days (memoir)
*Alabama Book Festival Student Readers Group selection
9:00-9:45 a.m. in the Church

Sheyann Webb-Christburg, who was born in Selma and grew up in the projects, is a humanitarian, civil rights activist, mentor, and youth advocate; she graduated from Tuskegee Institute. Her book, coauthored with Frank Sikora and Rachel West Nelson, was made into a Disney film, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award as Best Television Mini Series. Webb was named the “smallest Freedom Fighter” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. At age eight, she snuck out of her house to attend mass meetings and led the congregation in singing freedom songs. She was the youngest participant to take part in the “Bloody Sunday” March. Webb-Christburg founded KEEP Productions, a youth development program and works with other youth groups throughout Alabama. She speaks to religious and community organizations, government agencies, and students in junior high and high schools and colleges nationwide. She promotes and directs fashion shows and serves as beauty pageant, fashion, cotillion, and wedding consultant. She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, The Tom Joyner Morning Show and others. She is featured in the PBS documentary Eyes on the Prize.


Deborah Wiles
Revolution (young readers fiction)
*National Book Award finalist
1:00-1:30 p.m. in the North Tent
Deborah Wiles was born in Alabama and spent summers in a small Mississippi town with an extended family full of Southern characters. She is the first children’s book author to be names Writer-in-residence at Thurber House, James Thurber’s boyhood home. She holds an MFA from Vermont College and has taught there and at Towson University and Lesley University. She has published two picture books; One Wide Sky was a Children’s Book of the Month selection, and Freedom Summer has won numerous awards. Her Aurora County Trilogy of novels is about growing up in the south, and the books have won numerous awards. Her latest project is The Sixties Trilogy: Three Novels of 1960s for Young Readers. Revolution, the second book is the series, is a National Book Award finalist. Wiles lives in Atlanta with her husband, jazz pianist Jim Pearce, climbs Stone Mountain, and grows the world’s most beautiful zinnias.

Ed Williams
Alabama Readers Theatre dramatic reading from Addie Pray
4:00-4:45 p.m. in the Church

Ed Williams is a retired University of Alabama theater professor, and he will participate in the Alabama Readers Theatre dramatic reading from Addie Pray.

Julia Williams
Alabama Readers Theatre dramatic reading from Addie Pray
4:00-4:45 p.m. in the Church

Julia Williams is participating in the Alabama Readers Theatre dramatic reading from Addie Pray.

Randall Williams
Indie Publishers: Opportunities in Independent Publishing (workshop)
3:00-4:00 p.m. in the Loeb Center auditorium

Horace Randall Williams is a writer, editor, publication designer, and book publisher. An Alabama native, he has been a writer and editor on national newspapers and magazines. His articles have been published in more than 200 newspapers and magazines and in several anthologies and literary and historical journals. He is the author, co-author, or editor of five books on Southern history and culture. In the 1980s, he was the founding director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Klanwatch Project. He has written, edited, designed, and/or published some 600 books, more than any other general trade book editor and publisher in Alabama history. Since 2000, he has been the co-owner with Suzanne La Rosa of NewSouth Books, where he is editor-in-chief. He is a longtime board member of the Montgomery Improvement Association, charter member of the Friendly Supper Club, and founder of the Capri Community Film Society.

Joseph P. Wood
Broken Cage and Fold of the Map (poetry)
1:45-2:15 p.m. in the Church

Joseph P. Wood is the author of four books and five chapbooks of poetry, which include Broken Cage (finalist for 2013 National Poetry Series) and Fold of the Map. His work has appeared widely in journals such as Arts & Letters Daily, BOMB, Boston Review, Cincinnati Review, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, Verse, and Verse Daily, among others. He has held residencies at Djerassi and Artcroft. Wood has taught at the University of Arizona and the University of Alabama; he teaches now at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In 2009, he co-founded Slash Pine Press, an undergraduate initiative in community arts and small publishing.