Robert won the 2015 Weatherford Award for outstanding Appalachian novel for his first novel Trampoline. His second novel is Weedeater (2018). From 1997 to 2018, he directed the Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College Appalachian Program in Harlan. He is a producer of the Higher Ground community performance series; has directed the Southeast Kentucky Revitalization Project; coordinated the Great Mountain Mural Mega Fest; co-produces the Hurricane Gap Community Theater Institute; and advises on It’s Good To Be Young in the Mountains. He formerly worked at Appalshop, an arts center in Whitesburg, Kentucky. He lives in Harlan County, Kentucky.
Diane is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of 26 novels. Her books are complex stories about love, compassion and forgiveness, with a strong element of mystery and suspense. In her latest novel, The Dream Daughter, Diane adds a touch of magical realism. She splits her time between Raleigh and Topsail Island, the setting for two of her books. Diane’s background in psychology and her work in hospitals have given her the experience necessary to create real characters. She’s at work on her 27th novel—Big Lies in a Small Town, set in Edenton.
Jaki is the author of eight poetry collections. Her poetry has been published in more than eighty national and international anthologies and featured in magazines such as Essence and Ms. Magazine. She is the first African American and only the third woman to be appointed as the North Carolina Poet Laureate. Her collegiate and professional experiences include teaching Documentary Poetry at the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies, Visiting Professor for the Carlow University MFA Program, Lenoir-Rhyne University Writer-in-Residence, Duke University Teaching for Equity Fellow and many more. She is owner of SistaWRITE and co-partner with Dream Yourself Awake and Vertikal Creative Ventures, providing writing retreats and travel excursions for women.
Stephanie is the author of No One is Coming to Save Us, which was a 2018 NAACP Image Award Winner, the inaugural American Library Association selection by Sarah Jessica Parker, and a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection. Her writing has appeared in many journals and media including The New York Times, Oxford American, and Time magazine. Born in Lenoir, North Carolina, she lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with her son and her husband, the poet Bob Watts.
Georgann is the author of the Literary Trails series commissioned by the NC Arts Council and published by UNC Press. Her latest book is The Month of Their Ripening: North Carolina Heritage Foods Through the Year. She has published poetry, fiction, profiles, reviews and essays in many magazines and journals, including Southern Cultures, South Writ Large, Our State and Oxford American. Since 2000, she has been a principal with Donna Campbell in Minnow Media, LLC, an Emmy-winning multimedia company. She is director of the Table Rock Writers Workshop and a founder and member of the board of trustees of the NC Writers’ Network.
Novelist AJ, a Charlotte native, still calls North Carolina’s Piedmont “home.” Her first novel, The Dry Grass of August, won the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, was a finalist for the Book Award from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, and has been translated seven times. Her much-anticipated second novel, Tomorrow’s Bread, debuted in March 2019. She is working on short stories and perhaps her third novel. For twenty-five years she taught fiction writing at Duke University Continuing Education, at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro, and in her home. In 1987 she joined a group of writers in Chapel Hill and is still in that group 32 years later.
Ronni is an author and editor whose work focuses on traditional American foods and music. Her book, Victuals (2016), won the 2017 James Beard Foundation Book of the Year Award. Her hometown is Corbin, Kentucky, and she now lives in the mountains of North Carolina. Her first book, Shuck Beans, Stack Cakes, and Honest Fried Chicken, combined her interests in music and food. Her work has appeared in Esquire, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Cooking Light, Eating Well, Sunset, and Copia. In 2009, she was the recipient of the Southern Foodways Alliance’s Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award.
PT graduated from the Naval Academy in 1963 and served on cruisers and destroyers for 26 years, retiring from active duty in 1989 as a captain. He holds a BS in naval engineering, an MA in public administration from the University of Washington, and is a graduate of the Royal College of Defence Studies in London. He began writing fiction in 1990 and has since published 21 novels. His next book, The Nugget, Book 6 in a WWII Naval series, is due for release in October. He lives in North Carolina’s Piedmont with his wife of 50 years.
Alan has written four novels: Cry Uncle, Whale Man, The Committee on Town Happiness, and Christmas in July, and is the author of eight poetry collections. He has received 10 awards for his writing, both prose and poetry. He received his M.F.A. in Writing in 1987 from the School of the Arts at Columbia University. He teaches at Davidson College and in the University of Tampa’s low-residency M.F.A. program.
Beth is the author of three New York Times-bestselling nonfiction books. Her 2014 J. Anthony Lukas Prize-winning Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local—and Helped Save an American Town, traced the aftereffects of globalization in America. Truevine: Two Brothers, A Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest (2016) was a Kirkus Prize finalist and longlisted for the Carnegie Medal. Shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal in nonfiction, among other honors, her latest work, Dopesick, was an instant bestseller and was named to more than a dozen best book of the year lists. Based out of Roanoke, Virginia, she was a Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard in 2010.