On Saturday, I attended the Southern Voices Festival at the Hoover Public Library. I was excited to hear so many Southern authors talk about their work, and I was especially looking forward to seeing Wiley Cash, who wrote A Land More Kind Than Home, my favorite book of 2012.
As each author spoke, I found myself inspired by their stories. Dorothea Benton Frank told her story about becoming a writer after years in the workforce. Grant Jerkins and Wiley Cash both encouraged fellow writers to be persistent when it comes to getting your book published. Tayari Jones shared her memories of growing up while the Atlanta child murders were being committed and how that influenced her book. Michel Stone discussed learning about the harsh realities of crossing the US/Mexican border illegally. Wendy Wax reminisced about the ups and downs of a writing career. Finally, Ron Rash told an incredible story about researching eagles for his book Serena.
In the end, all these wonderful authors had two very important things in common:
- They were funnier than hell. Every single one of them had the audience in stitches at one time or another. They peppered their advice and their serious points with quips and jokes, just like any good Southern storyteller.
- They each had an abiding love for the places they grew up. Each was formed and inspired by their Southern upbringings, and they in turn inspired the audience.
After the sessions with the authors, all I could talk about or think about was writing. I still feel re-energized and am even more committed to writing about my home and the people here. We had an opportunity to get books signed by each of the authors, and I was itching to ask Ron Rash a question.
"Which do you prefer writing: novels or short stories?"
He said he preferred writing "the stories," but that there were "pleasures in both." I so wanted to hear that, because, as I told him, I seem to be incapable of writing more than 45K words. He suggested that maybe I'm a short story writer and that short story writers are having more success lately.
All the authors were really nice during the signing. Each of them took time to talk to us, and I really appreciated their spending some of their time with their readers and fellow writers. And I came home with a nice new stack of books.
Have you seen or met an author who inspired you?