Saturday, November 27, 2010

2010 Was a Busy Year For Georgia Authors

Georgia authors were all over the place in 2010. From children's books to regional interest titles to New York Times bestsellers, Georgia authors had a prolific year.

Now that the holidays and the gift giving season is here, you can show your appreciation to Georgia's writers (and to your favorite bookseller) by giving the best present of all--books.

The list below is just a sample of what Georgia authors produced in 2010 (or close enough to 2010 to count). I apologize up front for any titles that I left out that deserve to be listed. Please feel free to add them in the comments below.

I'm listing them in no particular order.

Since Christmas is just around the corner, I'll start with The 12 Days of Christmas in Georgia, which is illustrated by Georgia artist Elizabeth Delumba.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Published in 2009, the book became a national bestseller in 2010.

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin. Another national bestseller. One of Ms. Giffin's earlier works is headed to the big screen soon.

The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews.

A Soft Place to Land by Susan Rebecca White. A personal favorite. Ms. White comes from a writing family. She is married to business author Alan Deutschman (Walk the Walk), and is the sister of New York Times bestselling young adult author, Lauren Myracle.

Back Seat Saints by New York Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson.

International slice and dice murder mystery sensation, Karin Slaughter knocked'em dead (again) with Broken.

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and Emory University faculty chair (and former University of Georgia cheerleader) Natasha Tretheway released Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The Mile High Club by William Rawlings, Jr.

Fireworks Over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff.

Truckers by Mary Richardson. Another personal favorite (and actually published in late 2009). This is an artsy (in a folklore kind of way) photographic essay about the people who drive big rigs. Great interviews, and a really interesting look at a bit of Americana and business.

The Food, Folklore and Culture of Low Country Cooking by Joseph Dabney. This book is a small masterpiece. From a James Beard Award winner, this book has it all--history, recipes, and interviews with the likes of Pat Conroy and Nathalie Dupree. Also check out Joe's book on Appalachian cooking and culture.

Vince Dooley's Garden: The Horticultural Journey of a Football Coach by college football legend (and certified master gardener) Vince Dooley. Illustrated by Steve Penley, this book spans the globe.

The Triangle of Truth by syndicated columnist Lisa Earle McLeod.

Superbug by Maryn McKenna. From the author of Beating Back the Devil. If you have an interest in public health, the medical profession, science, or terrifying scenarios and the technology to fight them, this book is for you.

The South and America Since World War II from acclaimed historian James C. Cobb.

Intelligence: The Secret World of Spies--An Anthology by UGA Professor (and one of the nation's top intelligence experts) Loch Johnson.

A House of Branches by Janisse Ray. A new collection of poems by the author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood.

Zero, Zilch, Nada by Wendy Ulmer, and illustrated by Georgia artist Laura Knorr.

Illustrator Mark Braught has two new books out this year. Baby, I'm Watching Over You is perfect for a military family with young children. And Ellen Craft's Escape From Slavery would make a nice edition to a school library. Tremendous artwork.

Remembering George Washington Perry by former Augusta newspaperman Bill Baab. I still don't know why this book hasn't made it to the New York Times bestseller list. I guess they don't fish.

The Council of Dads by Bruce Feiler. Mr. Feiler is a native Savannahian, and several times national bestselling author (Walking the Bible). He recounts his experience of learning that he might have a fatal case of cancer. He gathers up the men who will fill his shoes for his two young daughters, should he not make it. Read it.

Within Our Reach: Ending the Mental Health Crisis by former First Lady Rosalyn Carter. Put simply, this lady is an angel and a national treasure.

Bartram's Living Legacy: The Travels and the Nature of the South by Dorinda Dallmeyer.

The Flower Seeker: An Epic Poem of William Bartram by Phillip Lee Williams. The South gets its Odyssey. Phil's Civil War novel, The Campfire Boys, is the best thing since Frazier's Cold Mountain.

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy. A book for the book person on your list.

Then there are the perennial favorites. Terry Kay. James Dickey. Roy Blount. Coleman Barks. Rosemary Daniell. Augusta Trobaugh. Hollis Gillespie. Melissa Fay Greene. Ferrol Sams. And don't forget Carson McCullers, Margaret Mitchell, Flannery O'Conner, Anthony Grooms, Driving Miss Daisy, Andersonville, A Man in Full, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

So, there you go, some shopping ideas. For more details, go visit your favorite bookseller. They need your support. Also, try visiting the website for the New Georgia Encyclopedia (author section) to really amaze yourself. The Georgia Center for the Book and the Margaret Mitchell House will be fun places this holiday, too. Again, sorry for titles and authors not mentioned. Please feel free to add them.

All the best, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, New Year & Hanukkah


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day 2010--Georgia Authors Remember our Veterans, Serving Military Personnel, and Their Families

Happy Veteran's Day!

Some months back, a Facebook friend forwarded an article to me that he had seen in the news and that pertained to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The title of the article asked, "Is America Still Fighting the War on Terror?"

My friend forwarded the article with the following comment. He said, "No. America is not fighting the war on terror. The United States Marines are. America is at the mall."

I confess that I pretty much agree with that sentiment.

Today is Veteran's Day. All else set aside, today is the day to acknowledge the sacrifice of America's former and current members of the military.....and the sacrifices of their families.

Two recent titles by Georgia authors do just that.

Dear Baby, I'm Watching Over You (just released in October) is a children's book for ages 2-8 years old. The book was written by Carol Casey, and is illustrated by the talented Georgia artist, Mark Braught. The target audience of this picture book is the young children of military personnel serving away from home.

Think about it for a moment. Or all day today.

One of Braught's illustrations has a Navy seaman looking out to sea from the deck of his ship. He's looking out over the ocean at a star filled night.

"I'm sure you wonder why I'm away for a birthday, game, or holiday."

Here are the dedications from the book:

To U.S. service men, women, and veterans, and to your families. Thank you for your patriotism and sacrifices, and for watching over all of our children. ---Carol Casey

For those that believe in, patriotically serve and sacrifice for our way of life so we may enjoy the same. Thank you. --Mark Braught

The next title is from former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, and just hit the bookshelves this fall. The book is Within Our Reach: Ending the Mental Health Crisis, and is co-written with Susan Golant and Kathryn Cade.

Mrs. Carter is an acknowledged powerhouse when it comes to mental health advocacy. Of the many topics that she discusses in her new book, she takes special pains to address the mental health needs of America's veterans and their families, and how woefully short we fall as a nation in meeting those needs. She devotes a considerable amount of the discussion to the issue of PTSD. The numbers are terrible.

Mrs. Carter sums up her message, We support our troops in the field, but it is critical that we continue to support them when they come home.

There is an interesting parallel to be drawn here. Like terrorism, mental illness is a heartless, indiscriminate, destructive force. And Mrs. Carter is the equivalent of an Army Ranger.

Remember your veterans today, and their families.

Postscript: To Specialist Castro. If you see this, here's wishing you and your comrades a safe and speedy return home to your families. We look forward to your return, as your father will be moving to the minors next season and our daughter is in need of a quality softball coach.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Prince of Tides, the Mother of All Fish, and Erk's Eagles

October is here and, finally, tolerable weather has returned to north Georgia. October is also prime book month in Georgia (fall and spring being the best book seasons, in general). Below are several noteworthy events, of many (Billy Collins was just at Georgia Tech):

Pat Conroy and Cassandra King

On Wednesday, October 6, authors Pat Conroy and Cassandra King will be giving a reading at the Clarkston Campus of Georgia Perimeter College at 7:15 p.m. The event is taking place at the Cole Fine Arts Building, located at 555 North Indian Creek Road. For more information, call the GPC Writer's Institute at 678.891.3275.

Pat Conroy (native Georgian) is the phenomenolly popular author of novels such as The Prince of Tides, The Great Santinni, and The Lords of Discipline. His most recent novel, South of Broad, came out last year. He is also the author of several autobiographical works, including his forthcoming book about his life in books.

Cassandra King is the author of multiple bestsellers, including The Sunday Wife.

Go Fish Center to Open in Perry, Georgia

On Thursday, October 7, the State of Georgia will be dedicating the new Georgia Go Fish Center, which will be next to the Georgia State Fairgrounds in Perry. The Center will open to the public on the following day. The Center will be devoted to all things fishing in Georgia, and is part of Governor Perdue's Go Fish Georgia initiative. A lot of people grumbled about the money to build the Center and fund the initiative, especially in these tight fiscal times. Heaven forbid that we do something to encourage people in Georgia (where one in five adults, and one in four children, are considered obese) to get outside. As an economic driver, one of the recent Go Fish-connected fishing tournaments brought $23.2 million to the Lake Lanier area and Gwinnett County.

One of the dignitaries who will be on hand at the Go Fish Center dedication will be Bill Babb, Georgia author, former Augusta newspaperman, and the world's leading authority on George Washington Perry.

I am certain that all of you are aware that George Washington Perry was the young Georgia farmboy who, in the summer of 1932, took a day off from field work to go fishing with a friend. He caught a largemouth bass that, turns out, was (and still is) the world record holder in terms of weight. That's how an international, multi-billion dollar industry got started. Not to mention the great stories, etc. And Perry went on to become a self-made man, and local legend.

Bill Babb's book, Remembering George Washington Perry, came out last year. You'll be able to pick up a copy at the Center.

2010 Georgia Literary Festival

Presented each year by the Georgia Center for the Book, this year's Georgia Literary Festival will be held on October 3rd on the campus of Geogia Southern University (WOOOOO! GO EAGLES!!) in Statesboro, Georgia.

Among the 25 authors scheduled to speak and autograph books will be Ferrol Sams, Max Cleland, Natasha Tretheway, Phillip Lee Williams, Tina Ansa, Damon Lee Fowler, Walter Reeves, and David Bottoms. And it's all free.

For more information about this year's Georgia Literary Festival, contact the Georgia Center for the Book at 404.370.8450 x 2225.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Illustrator Laura Knorr at the Suwanee Festival of Books

Zero, Zilch, Nada--Counting to None by Wendy Ulmer (and illustrated by Laura Knorr) tells the story of Harry, a senior accountant in the Congressional Budget Office who decides to leave public service to become a financial planner for a giant corporate mortgage lending firm, and the hilarious mayhem that results.

Not really.

Actually, Zero, Zilch, Nada is the latest title from Sleeping Bear Press to be illustrated by award-winning Georgia artist Laura Knorr. The book just hit the shelves earlier this summer.

The story involves one Harry, a rabbit who just loves, loves, loves balloons. Harry gets a new job in a balloon factory, and things get a little out of control. In the meantime, the intended audience for the book (ages K-2ND Grades) are learning about sets and counting by multiples of ten, five, two, etc.

It's a fun book for little aspiring math whizzes, and the artwork is terrific. But, don't take my word for it. For this book review, I called in an expert. I asked my seven-year-old daughter to read it and offer her thoughts. She insisted upon rewriting the whole story (critics!), but then did finally submit a few written answers to questions from her old man:

GBAW: Why did you like this book?

RS: It was so silly. Because he was supposed to blow up 100 balloons, but instead he popped 100 balloons.

GBAW: Who was your favorite character?

RS: Everyone (besides Harry, there are bears, beavers, raccoons, chipmunks, moose and other assorted factory workers and members of management).

GBAW: What was your favorite part of the story?

RS: Boo Hoo! None left!

GBAW: Any closing comments about the book?

RS: It is educational (egecasional) by helping your child counting back from 100 to 0. It is a great (graet) book. Buy (bye) it from Laura Knorr.

GBAW: Good. Finally, can you say why a baby brother or baby sister might like it?

RS: I think they would laugh about it too. In fact they would laugh so hard their heads would blow off.

GBAW: There you go.

Laura Knorr will be appearing at the Suwanee Festival of Books on August 28-29. For more information about the festival, visit the website at

For a complete list of books illustrated by Laura Knorr, and to view more of her wonderful artwork, visit her website at


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Suwanee Festival of Books

Georgia gets a new book festival this year when the Inaugural Suwanee Festival of Books is held at Suwanee Town Center on August 28 and 29 (in Suwanee, Georgia, of course). If you just can't wait one more week for the Labor Day Decatur Book Festival, or you'd simply like to get warmed up for that event, the Suwanee event is well worth looking into.

Nearly one hundred authors will be on hand at the Suwanee festival, including many local, regional, and national favorites.

Among the presenting authors at the Suwanee Festival will be:

Terry Kay. Award-winning, Georgia Writer Hall of Famer, and local favorite, Kay will be giving a keynote presentation. Among his best known titles are To Dance With the White Dog, and his most recent title, The Book of Marie.

Phillip Lee Williams. Another Georgia Hall of Famer. Williams is a recipient of the Micheal Schaara Civil War Fiction Award. His upcoming epic poem, The Flower Seeker (about the life of William Bartram) ought to cause a stir in literary, history and natural history circles.

Joseph Dabney. James Beard cookbook winner Dabney will be on hand with his new book, The Food, Folklore and Art of Lowcountry Cooking. Pat Conroy, Nathalee Dupree, Savannah, Charleston, food.

Helen Ellis. Young adult, I love Harry Potter and vampires readers, here is your chance to meet the next big thing. Ellis' new book, The Turning: What Curiosity Kills, is already getting notice by fantasy loving teens (girls), and cat people, in the Big Apple and beyond.

Lisa Earl McLeod. Author, Gwinnett Daily Post writer, and syndicated columnist, McLeod will be there dishing out advice and good humor on all subjects from love to work to clean underwear.

S.A. Harazin. This Gwinnett author was nominated last year for an Edgar for her first young adult novel, Blood Brothers.

Donny Bailey Seagraves. The Athens area author will be there with her new coming of age in the South novel, Gone From These Woods.

Laura Knorr. This award-winning children's book illustrator will be there with her new book, Zero, Zilch, Nada, Counting to None.

Mark Braught. Award-winning illustrator (Harry Potter) Braught's new book, Ellen Craft's Escape From Slavery, will just be hitting the bookstores in time for the Festival.

Melinda Long. Suwanee is happy to welcome this New York Time's bestselling author of the children's book, How I Became a Pirate.

Jackie Cooper. Another Georgia favorite. Former Georgia Public Broadcasting book reviewer and author of The Bookbinder.

Other authors appearing include, Diane Shore, Patti Callahan Henry, Patricia Sprinkle and Rob Cleveland.

Plus, it's Suwanee Town Center, so there will be lots to do anyway (restaurants, shops, the park, and Farmer's Market).

For more information, check out the Suwanee Festival of Books at


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Interview with Georgia Author and Certified Master Gardener Vince Dooley

I would like to thank Vince Dooley for taking time last week to speak with me about his new book, Vince Dooley's Garden--The Horticultural Journey of A Football Coach, with paintings by renowned artist Steve Penley. The book also includes a foreword by Michael Dirr and an afterward by Allan Armitage, both University of Georgia horticulturalists.
The horticultural journey of a football coach? I understand what an interesting subject that is to a lot of people. In fact, it might be the first time that such a book has been published. I don't know. SEC football legend discusses how he fell for hydrangeas! Of course that's likely to generate some interest, if only for the novelty of it.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution recently published a piece on Mr. Dooley's new book, covering it from the football angle. That article may be viewed at the link below:
Most people (in Georgia especially) likely associate Mr. Dooley with college football. And for good reason.
But Vince Dooley is also an avid "book person" (he has written some ten books and is widely read). He is a historian, a student of art, and is a world traveller. He has taken advantage of a career associated with universities to explore a multitude of subjects that interest him. And his interests seem to know no bounds.
"I find that there is great joy to learning and I have an inquisitive nature." states Dooley.
He also has a great love of gardening, although he has "only" been at it for about twelve to fourteen years, and considers himself a "relatively new" gardener.
I asked Mr. Dooley how long the new gardening book had been in the works; where did the idea for the book come from?
"A few years ago I was having dinner with (artist) Steve Penley," states Dooley. Apparently, the subject for a possible new book was one of the topics of conversation. Mr. Dooley laughs when he recalls that one of the possible ideas was for a combination football and gardening book.
"I decided upon a "journey" approach. Not too many coaches are gardeners."
Dooley continued, commenting on his now frequent appearances giving talks to gardening organizations, "I think that there is a uniqueness in a football coach giving talks. It's kind of like, "What am I doing here?""
I asked Mr. Dooley if he could tell me just how many varieties of plants he has in his garden in Athens (Georgia). He simply laughed and said that, "I'll have to count sometime." His Favorite varieties include Japanese Maples, camellias, hydrangeas (one is named for him), herbaceous plants, and dahlias.
Mr. Dooley is a world traveler, and devotes a considerable amount of attention in his new book to gardens and plant varieties throughout the U.S. and the world. He recommends a book, 1001 Gardens You Ought to See Before you Die. By his own count, he still has some 301 of those gardens to go. One of those gardens that he strongly recommends here in the States is Middleton Place, near Charleston, South Carolina. Another garden, which didn't make the 1001 list in the book (an omission that Dooley attempted to rectify) is actually just a few miles from Middleton Place-Magnolia Gardens.
As to gardens further afield, Mr. Dooley seems to have an affection for South Africa (The Floral Kingdom), where he wrote much of the new book. He is particularly enamored with the Protea family that is found there.
I asked Mr. Dooley what it was about gardening that he particularly likes.
He puts it simply, "It's fun. It's good for the mind. Good for the soul and the spirit and the body, because you're outside."
"It's a place to contemplate."
He is also clearly drawn to the science of horticulture. It wouldn't hurt the reader of the new book to have a small Latin dictionary on hand.
"There is always something new. And I'm never satisfied."
Vince Dooley will be autographing copies of his new book, Vince Dooley's Garden-The Horticultural Journey of a Football Coach, from 5 pm to 7:30 PM on Thursday, May 27th, on the City Hall Plaza at Suwanee Town Center, Suwanee, Georgia. For information, call 770.945.8996 or visit
RMR. And grow stuff.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Atlanta Author Susan Rebecca White--A Soft Place to Land

Atlanta author Susan Rebecca White's new novel, A Soft Place to Land, arrived in bookstores on April 4. The new book follows last year's debut novel, Bound South, which was nominated this year for a Townsend Prize for Fiction. Ms. White's new novel was featured in a review in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution. To read that review, click on the link below and go to the lifestyle section.

Ms. White officially began touring for the book last week, in addition to her duties as a creative writing teacher at Emory University. I would like to thank her for taking the time recently to answer questions about her new book, and her writing in general, so I might share her comments here.

GBAW: First question. Your first book, Bound South, was terrific (and, ahem, was also reviewed early on this blog). Bound South was a finalist for this year's Townsend Award. That's really quite an honor, particularly considering some of the other authors who were among the nominees. Your second novel, A Soft Place to Land, has been selected by Target as a featured title for this spring. So, how does it feel to receive both literary kudos AND a big vote of support for your book as a possible bestseller?

SRW: You know, it feels great. I work really hard on crafting my novels, on trying to get the language, and the psychology, and the details right. So it's extremely gratifying to get recognition for that, to be, for example, shortlisted for the Townsend. But at the same time, I'm very aware of audience when I write. This is not to say that I write books with easy answers and pat solutions (I think some reader wished my endings felt more wrapped up!) But being aware of my audience keeps me conscious that things need to happen--that I need to check my tendency for navel gazing. I mean look, I am asking people to take precious time away from their day to read my book, and I want to offer them a good story. I want to hook them in from the beginning. I want people to finish my books feeling that they have just had a textured and meaningful experience. And the wider the audience the better, so I was beyond thrilled when Target chose A Soft Place to Land for its April book club pick. A wider audience does bring out your insecurities, because more readers means more criticism. But that's part of the package. What I'm finding is that I will drive myself crazy if I worry too much about whether or not people like the book. Of course I want for people to like it, but I don't have any control over that. Once I put the book out into the world, I lose control. What I do have control over is what I put into the book while writing it: the hours at my computer, the wrestling with story, the love for my characters.

And your review of Bound South, by the way, was fantastic.

GBAW: Thank you. I thought that it was a terrific book. I know some of the ladies in it.

Question 2. A Soft Place to Land deals with the complicated relationship between sisters Ruthie and Julia. The question that you will be answering at every reading you give for the new book: How much of the relationship between Ruthie and Julia is drawn from you and your sisters?

SRW: The intimacy, the teasing, the private games ("Biscuit and Egg"), the inside jokes, all of these elements of Ruthie and Julia's relationship were elements of my relationships with my sisters. I drew upon my girlhood memories of playing with them, sneaking into their beds at night, scratching their backs for the priviledge of sleeping in their beds. But once Phil and Naomi die, Julia and Ruthie's story veers far from my own, and the two sisters become their own selves, and not mirrors of my sisters and me.

GBAW: Speaking of sisters, one of your sisters is Lauren Myracle, a bestselling author of young adult books. Your husband, Alan Deutschman, is the author of several successful business titles, and has written for Vanity Fair, Fortune, Fast Co., and GQ (how cool is that?). My question, then, is what is it like being in an entire family of successful working writers? Do you consult each other on projects? Review each other's rough drafts? Is there a family betting pool as to who is going to get on Oprah first? Seriously, that's a lot of creative energy in one family.

SRW: Lauren paved the way for me. I was so impressed when she got her first book deal; I didn't believe that "real" people really published books. But then she kept publishing, and publishing, and publishing, and it began to feel normal. That normalization of publication was really helpful, because it made it seem like something I might actually be able to do. Because Lauren and I share so many memories, and both write fiction, we don't read each other's drafts, rough or polished, but wait until our respective work is in print. In fact, lauren also wrote a story about two sisters (Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks) that was published in March of 2009, and I didn't read it until December of 2009, once A Soft Place to Land had gone through all its edits, because I didn't want to be unduly influenced. And she didn't read A Soft Place until it was out in galleys.

With my husband Alan, it's a different story. He writes non-fiction, and our books are so different from one another that there is no fear of overlapping. I talk through my stories with him, and he offers really helpful suggestions. It was Alan who suggested that I open the book by having Julia and Ruthie tell each other the story of their parent's plane crash, so that readers could 1) get a sense of their relationship by how they talked to each other, 2) get a sense of the "mythic" romance that their parents had and 3) "see" the crash without actually being on the plane. Alan is invaluable help to me during the process of writing.

GBAW: Next. Food. A Soft Place to Land gives a great deal of attention to food. Do you cook? What's a Susan Rebecca White specialty? I understand that you are also a gardener. What are you growing this year? Finally, feel free to mention any favorite restaurants or local food-oriented establishments (in Atlanta or San Francisco).

SRW: I love to cook. In the book, Ruthie becomes a pastry chef, which I thought fit her controlled, exacting nature, but I am more interested in cooking savory things. I make a mean roast chicken--probably because I buy nice little chickens at the farmer's market, or from Sawicki's--and I take the time to brine it and then slather butter and herbs all over it and roast it in a hot oven. I also like to braise things. In the winter I make a yummy braised duck (legs) with prunes and red wine. I serve that over mashed potatoes. I also like to make lasagna Bolognese, though that is quite a production because I often make the noodles by hand and the ragu sauce takes about 5 hours to prepare and then you have to make a bechamel to layer in there. It's one of those dishes that I make about once a year, it's so much trouble, but I'm always glad to have made it when I finally get to eat a slice. As far as my garden goes (grows), I have moved from vegetables to flowers. I just felt like I was growing a salad bar for the squirrels, and got fed up. I have a couple of tomatoes in pots, but the garden is mostly non-edible: we've got hydrangeas, peonies, butterfly bushes, blueberry bushes, some petunias, some zinnias, and some sunflowers.

Fave restaurants in Atlanta/Decatur: Cakes & Ale, Tacqueria del Sol, Floataway Cafe, the burger at Holeman & Finch, spaetzle at Cafe Alsace. I've also become quite addicted to the grapefruit/mint popsicle sold by The King of Pops who parks his popsicle stand at the corner of North Avenue and North Highland.

I have no authority to speak of restaurants in New York, because I'm inherently out of the loop--given that I don't live there--but, I'm going to anyway because I can't help myself. There's a teeny-tiny Greek restaurant in Soho that I love, called Snack. Like everyone, I find pork buns at Momofuku scary good. And for a celebratory meal, I don't think you can beat The Union Square Cafe: the food is fresh and good (the homemade pastas are a stand-out) and the people who work there take such wonderful care of you. I think that's really important, that a restaurant give you a sense of well-being. Cakes & Ale (in Atlanta), which I already mentioned, does such a good job with that.

In San Francisco, I always have to go to Zuni for the roast chicken, and the salted caramel ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery makes me swoon. And I love the burritos at Tacqueria Cancun. For a moderately prices yummy Middle Eastern meal with fantastic service, you can't beat La Mediterranee on Noe Street.

GBAW: Next question. Atlanta. Much of your story in the new novel is set around the Peachtree Battle area of Atlanta (sorry folks, if you don't know where I am talking about). Specifically, you mention the Peachtree Battle Shopping Center. I have to ask. Do you remember Oxford Bookstore (the original that used to be in the Peachtree Battle Shopping Center)? Do you have any favorite Oxford Bookstore stories?

SRW: I loved Oxford Books! And its companion store, Oxford, Too. I grew up about a half mile from Peachtree Battle Shopping Center, and my mom would take me to Oxford at least once a week. We would each buy a book and then go get a snack at the Cup & Chaucer cafe that was on the second floor of the store. I loved their hot chocolate. It was just chocolate milk that they steamed with a little wand, but it was creamy and rich and delicious. I would order a hot chocolate and croissant and read whatever book I'd bought. Maybe that was the start of my associating books with food.

When I was in the fifth grade, all of the boys loved Stephen King books. I went to Oxford, Too, which sold used books, and bought eight Stephen King thrillers for maybe 50 cents each and brought them to class the next day to donate to our class library. I pretended the books were all mine, that they had just been lying around my house, so that the boys would think I was cool.

GBAW: And--really--two last questions (both devoted to George Plimpton): You recently stated that you had read Nelson Aldrich, Jr.'s book, George, Being George, a collection of stories about the late George Plimpton, by many of the people who knew him best. You also suggested that you had only recently discovered Mr. Plimpton, and that you were very excited about having done so. As a fellow admirer of George Plimpton, I am curious to know what was it about him that so intrigues you. Were you aware that soon-to-be Georgia State University football coach Bill Curry was a good friend of Mr. Plimpton's? They actually co-wrote a book, One More July. Mr. Curry's 2008 book, Ten Men You Meet in the Huddle, dedicates a chapter to Mr. Plimpton.

SRW: I didn't know that about Bill Curry and George--how cool. As for me, I just love George Plimpton's joie de vivre. He was worldly and sophisticated but he took a child-like joy in life, and he did so many things, from helping found The Paris Review to boxing with Archie Moore...I suppose he inspires me because he was proof that adult life does not have to be staid and safe and dull.

GBAW: After you posted your comments about having discovered George Plimpton, I sent you a bit about Plimpton that I had previously posted here on my blog. Since you teach creative writing at Emory University, I want to ask you what you thought of the piece that I sent over to you. It was pretty good, wasn't it? Witty? Original? Please feel free to critique it as honestly as you would for one of your students. Just keep in mind that I will be sharing your comments about my work with my two young children.

SRW: Your piece gets an A!

GBAW: Speaking of your students at Emory, are there any up-and-coming writers among them whom we should be on the lookout for?


Well, my students are all smarter than I am, so if I can do it, they should be able to, too.

Thanks again to Ms. White for taking the time to share her thoughts, comments and recommendations on her books, on the writing craft, and FOOD.

Susan Rebecca White will be appearing at Outwrite Books in Atlanta, on May 19, at 7:30 PM. Call 404.607.0082 for more information.

RMR. Books about girls.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Townsend Prize for Fiction & Georgia Rules the Book World

Congratulations to Atlanta author Kathryn Stockett, whose book, The Help was recently awarded the 2010 Townsend Prize for Fiction. The Award is presented every two years to a Georgia author, and is named for Atlanta Magazine founding editor, the late Jim Townsend. This year's award was sponsored by the Writer's Institute at Georgia Perimeter College, The Atlanta Writer's Club, the Margaret Mitchell House, and the Georgia Center for the Book (see the links on this blog).

It is worth mentioning, too, that Ms. Stockett's book is, at this posting, Number 2 on the current New York Times bestseller list. She and her new book are also featured in the April/May edition of Garden & Gun Magazine. The article is written by Monte Burke, author of the book Sowbelly-The Obsessive Quest for the World-Record Largemouth Bass, which is reason enough to read the article.

Other nominees for this year's Townsend Prize included Phillip Lee Williams, for The Campfire Boys, Joshilyn Jackson, for The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, and Susan Rebecca White, for Bound South. Ms. White's new book, A Soft Place to Land, was blurrbed by Ms. Stockett. For a complete list of the nominees, visit the Georgia Center for the Book's website. You'll be asking, "ALL of these people are from Georgia?"

The 2010 Townsend Prize was awarded last week at a ceremony held at the Margaret Mithcell House in Atlanta.

And look what's coming (or just came out) from Georgia authors, and authors with Georgia connections:

George Washington Perry by Augusta newspaperman Bill Baab (just out in February)

Superbug: The Fatal Menace of MRSA by Maryn McKenna (just out last month). She'll be at the Georgia Center for the Book tonight.

A Soft Place to Land by Susan Rebecca White (just out)

The Turning--What Curiosity Kills by Helen Ellis (May 1)

Zero, Zilch, Nada by (illust.) Laura Knorr (May 1)

The Food, Folklore, and Art of Lowcountry Cooking by Joseph E. Dabney (May 1)

In Dooley's Garden by Vince Dooley (coming soon)

Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson (June 8)

The Flower Seeker by Phillip Lee Williams (September 1)

Ellen Craft's Escape from Slavery by (illust.) Mark Braught (September 28)

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin (May 11)

The Council of Dads by Bruce Feiler (today)
Photos: Phillip Lee Williams, Susan Rebecca White & Joshilyn Jackson, The Margaret Mitchell House (The "Dump").

More to come!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Congratulations 2010 Georgia Writers Hall of Fame Inductees

Congratulations to Judith Ortiz Cofer and Philip Lee Williams, who were both inducted this week into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, located on the campus of the University of Georgia in Athens. This honor could not have been bestowed upon two more deserving authors (or terrific people).

Because their collective work is simply too much to even summarize in such a short space, I invite readers to look up their titles on-line, at their local bookstore, or library. And not just Georgia readers, either.

Judith Ortiz Cofer is about as colorful a person as you might want to read, providing a perfect Puerto Rican/New York City/Southern/Latina/literary/motherly perspective on life. She is a delight to hear in person.

Phil Williams personafies the right Southern male. He is Atticus Finch in the flesh--proving (like Pat Conroy, Terry Kay and Jim Kilgo) that a good book, poem, or musical score is as much a manly art as fighting, sport, and the outdoors. In fact, they compliment each other. I will always remember the way this Georgia author presented a reading to a crowd of folks who were obviously in need of a litttle comfort. They had come out to hear him read from an historical comedy he'd written. And he managed to make them laugh, on September 13, 2001.

Congratulations also to Phil Williams, who will retire (semi-) this week from the University of Georgia, after a long and destiguished career with that institution.

Congratulations to both Phil and Judith on their having been recognized by the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame.

There's so much coming this year, bookwise, here in Georgia.

Phil Williams' new book, The Flower Seeker, arrives in the fall. The Georgia Literary Festival will be in Statesboro (GO EAGLES!!!!) this year, thank you very much, Georgia Center for the Book.

New books are coming from Susan Rebecca White, Joshilyn Jackson, Joe Dabney, ....and so many more.

Collegiate athletics legend Vince Dooley has a new gardening book coming this spring. Dooley is a certified Master Gardener, and has had a lifelong love affair with his garden. I'll bet not even Bear Bryant cultivated his own unique hydrenga.

There is a new Book Festival coming to Suwanee, Georgia which is promising to be quite an affair.

The Decatur Book Festival will be back again this year, the largest independent book festival in the entire USA.

Some good news.