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Meet the Writers of Southeast Atlanta Saturday Afternoons in 2019

By Linda Bernard

Join your neighbors and friends on January 12, 2019 from 3:30pm to 5:00pm at Ormewood Church Fellowship Hall for the first of three Saturday afternoon gatherings with writers from the Southeast Atlanta neighborhoods. The authors scheduled to participate on January 12 are Trudy Nan Boyce, Julia Franks, and Jessica Handler. On February 9, poet Danielle Hanson and novelists David Fulmer and Jim Gallant will present, and on March 16, Charlene Ball, Mickey Dubrow, Dawn Peterson, and Libby Ware will read from their writings.

January 12 featured guests:

Trudy Nan Boyce received her Ph.D. in community counseling before becoming a police officer for the City of Atlanta. After a more than thirty-year career, serving as a beat cop, homicide detective, hostage negotiator, and lieutenant, Boyce retired in 2008. In 2016 she published her first novel, Out of the Blues, a detective story set in Atlanta. She has written two more novels featuring Detective Sarah “Salt” Alt, the protagonist introduced in Out of the Blues.

In Out of the Blues, Salt is at the beginning of her career as a detective, having done her beat patrol years in the city’s poorest, most violent housing project, The Homes. It is here that Salt has come to know a cast of misfits and criminals that will profoundly impact both her personal life and her investigations. Subsequent novels delve further into the lives of residents of The Homes as well as into Salt’s own fascinating past.

Julia Franks, an outdoors-woman with roots in the Appalachian Mountains, is the author of Over the Plain Houses, winner of several local and national awards for fiction. Franks has published essays in the New York Times andThe Atlanta Journal Constitution, among other places, and is an avid crusader for greater book choice in school curricula.

Franks’ novel is set in the North Carolina mountains circa 1939, when the federal government has sent Virginia Furman to instruct families on the modernization of homes and farms. There she meets Irenie and her Bible-haunted husband, Brodis. Cracks are emerging in the fragile marriage between Irenie and Brodis, and Irenie has taken to night ramblings through the woods that lead her husband to suspect her of practicing black magic. This is the story of a woman intrigued by the possibility of change, escape, and reproductive choice—stalked by a man who fears his government and stakes his integrity on an older way of life.

Jessica Handler, a writer who earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte, North Carolina, and a B.S. in Communication from Emerson College in Boston, is the oldest of three sisters. By the time she had reached her early thirties, Handler had lost both younger siblings. Their father, a Civil Rights attorney in Atlanta in the 1960s, lived with the question of how to help others, even though he couldn’t help his own family. Handler has written a memoir of their experiences as well as a second non-fiction book, Braving the Fire, and a novel, The Magnetic Girl, which comes out this spring.

In her memoir Invisible SistersHandler tells of the struggle to answer truthfully the common question, “Do you have any brothers or sisters?” Telling the truth honored the memory of her sisters while acknowledging that a story of loss is sometimes more than a listener bargained for. Braving the Fire, the second non-fiction book, came after teaching workshops about the challenges and rewards in writing about grief and loss. In sharing experiences with other writers of memoirs, talking with journalists about ethics, and with doctors and others about taking care of oneself while grieving, the author learned about the human way of making sense of the world: “shaping what we know into stories we can understand.”

February 9 Featured Guests:

Nominated for ten Pushcart Prizes, Danielle Hanson, author of two volumes of poetry, received her MFA from Arizona State University and her undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She is the author of Ambushing WaterandFraying Edge of Sky,which won the Codhill Press Poetry Prize in 2017. In her poems Hanson uses a kind of magical realism to catalogue the minutiae of an ordinary scene and imbue it with a new and striking meaning. One reviewer said of her work, “the precise language of the poems conjures up the overlooked details of a world that, in its hurry, will miss them.” Danielle Hanson is currently the Poetry Editor for Doubleback Books and is on the staff of the Atlanta Review.

David Fulmerhas won numerous awards over the years and his critically acclaimed titles have been selected for several “best of” lists in national publications. His debut novel, Chasing the Devil’s Tail, introduced readers to Creole detective Valentin St. Cyr and was set in Storyville, the red-light district of early twentieth century New Orleans. Mixing real-life figures with invented characters, Fulmer entertains with vivid descriptions of the Delta city and its fascinating mix of sex, alcohol, drugs, and jazz intermingled with murder, intrigue, and mystery. He has since written nine additional novels and a novella. The Day Ends at Dawn, the seventh and final installment in his Storyville, New Orleans series, will be released in January.

Jim Gallanthas for the past three years been the author of an online column at the Fortnightly Reviewin the UK: “Verisimilitudes: Essays and Approximations.” Originally from Ohio, he is a graduate of Denison University and the University of Minnesota, and has lived in the South for over thirty years. Gallant is the author of a number of published works of short fiction and two novels, and often writes about UFOs, occult materializations, and the paranormal. An e-book published last spring, Whatever Happened to Ohio?was initially inspired by the infamous local case of “runaway bride” Jennifer Wilcox who got cold feet and scooted out of town on a Greyhound), but to up the ante, Gallant had the groom disappear simultaneously – in another direction. Gallant’s third book, a collection of essays and stories, some first published in his column, appeared in 2018 from Fortnightly Reviewpress. It bears the same title as his column.

March 16 featured guests:

Charlene Ballis a writer who retired from Georgia State University in 2009. Writing, bookselling, and volunteering have since then kept her busier than ever. Her first novel won the Story Circle May Sarton Award for Historical Fiction in 2018.Dark Lady: A Novel of Emilia Bassano Lanyeris a period piece about the “Dark Lady” of Shakespeare’s Sonnets who was also an author in her own right, publishing a book of poetry in 1611 that argues for women’s equality. The novel portrays Emilia’s struggle to survive and become one of the first women writers in England. Charlene also writes bibliomysteries with fellow panelist Libby Ware (see below) under the name “Lily Charles.” Their first mystery novel, Murder at the Estate Sale, will be published in 2019.

Mickey Dubrowwas a writer and television producer for over thirty years. His clients included CNN, TNT Latin America, Cartoon Network Marketing, HGTV, and SRA/McGraw Hill. His essays have appeared in Full Grown People and The Good Men Project. Dubrow’s stories offer fresh perspectives and entertainment, as well as perhaps a touch of anxiety. American Judas, his debut novel, is a dystopian tale about a young couple’s life in the U.S. after politicians abolish the wall of separation between Church and State. Seth and Maggie Ginsberg must strain their wits to survive oppression in a future America where democracy has become theocracy and where fundamental Christianity is the only legal religion; a world where abortion, homosexuality, and adultery are outlawed. American Judasmixes political satire, suspense, and family drama.

Dawn Petersonholds a PhD in Early North American and U.S. History and is currently an associate professor in the Department of History at Emory University. Her research includes roles of race, gender, and kinship within the institutions of colonialism, slavery, and capitalism in the U.S. Her book, Indians in the Family, published by Harvard Press in 2017, opens a window into the forgotten history of Indian adoption in early nineteenth-century America. One of the most fascinating stories told in the book is that of the future U.S. president Andrew Jackson, who discovered a Creek infant orphaned by his troops during Jackson’s invasion of Creek Indian territory in 1813. Moved by an “unusual sympathy” – or was it something else? – Jackson sent the child to be adopted into his Tennessee plantation household. Through the stories of nearly a dozen other white adoptive parents, adopted Indian children, and their Native parents, Petersonoutlines the role that adoption played in efforts to subdue Native peoples in the name of nation-building.

Libby Wareis the owner of Toadlily Books, an antiquarian book business. She is also a book collector, a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, the Georgia Antiquarian Booksellers Association, the Atlanta Writers Club,the Georgia Writers Association, and is a fellow of The Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences. Lum, Ware’s award-winning debut novel, is about an intersex woman who, after being told she cannot expect to marry, is shuttled from one house to another as she is needed by her relatives. When the battle over the encroachment of the Blue Ridge Parkway through her family’s farmland turns her world upside down, the reader learns that although the battle brings violence and betrayal, it also brings new opportunities.

Ormewood Church Fellowship Hall is located at 1071 Delaware Avenue, where there is ample parking along the street and in the Fellowship Hall parking lot adjacent to the church. www.ormewoodchurch.org.

Note: These gatherings are presented in partnership with the Friends of the East Atlanta Library, and are free and open to the public. Some readings may not be appropriate for young children, and childcare will not be provided. Parents should check out the individual authors before bringing young adult members of the family.

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