David Madden - 9:15-10:00AM
Born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1933, Madden graduated from the University of Tennessee, served in the Army, earned
an M.A. at San Francisco State, and attended Yale School of Drama on a John Golden Fellowship. Writer-in-residence at
LSU from 1968 to 1992, Director of the Creative Writing Program 1992-1994, Founding Director of the United States
Civil War Center 1992-1999, he is now LSU Robert Penn Warren Professor of Creative Writing Emeritus.
In l961, Random House published his first novel, The Beautiful Greed, based on his Merchant seaman experiences.
For Warner Brothers, he adapted his second novel, Cassandra Singing (1969), to the screen (not yet produced).
The Suicide’s Wife (1978) was made into a CBS Movie of the Week in 1979. It was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize,
as was Sharpshooter: A Novel of the Civil War (1996). The Shadow Knows, a book of stories, won a National Council
on the Arts Award, judged by Hortense Calisher and Walker Percy. His second collection, The New Orleans of
Possibilities, appeared in 1982. On the Big Wind (1980) is a short story cycle. His fourth collection is The
Last Bizarre Tale (2014).
His stories have been reprinted in numerous college textbooks and twice in Best American
Short Stories. A Rockefeller Grant, recommended by Robert Penn Warren and Saul Bellow, enabled him to work in Venice
and Yugoslavia on his third novel, Bijou, a 1974 Book of the Month Club Alternate Selection. Madden’s other novels are
Hair of the Dog (1967), Pleasure-Dome (1979), Abducted By Circumstance (2010), and London Bridge in Plague and
Bren McClain - 9:15-10:00AM
Bren McClain is a writer, who never gave up. After winning a handful of awards over the last two decades for novel excerpts
and short stories, her literary novel, ONE GOOD MAMA BONE, found a home with Pat Conroy’s Story River Books.
The novel received a starred review in “Booklist,” named a winter Okra pick by the Southeastern Independent Booksellers Alliance and
made a Pulpwood Queens selection for May. “Deep South” magazine included it in its recommended list of upcoming Fall/Winter
Bren is a two-time winner of the South Carolina Fiction Project and the recipient of the 2005 Fiction Fellowship by
the South Carolina Arts Commission.
She is at work on her next novel, Took, which was named the gold medal winner for
the 2016 William Faulkner –William Wisdom Novel-in-Progress.
Workshop 9:30-11:00AM: Christopher Hebert
Christopher Hebert is the author of the novels Angels of Detroit (Bloomsbury, 2016) and The Boiling Season (HarperCollins, 2012),
winner of the 2013 Friends of American Writers award.
He is also co-editor of Stories of Nation: Fictions, Politics, and the American Experience (UT Press, 2017).
His short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in such publications as FiveChapters, Cimarron Review, Narrative, Interview, and the Millions.
He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and is a former senior editor for the University of Michigan Press.
Currently he lives in Knoxville, TN, where he is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Tennessee.
Workshop 9:30-11AM: ABC's of Writing for Children
Have you ever wanted to create a children’s book? Here is an opportunity to learn from professionals.
Hear the ups and downs of traditionally publishing your first children’s book; and what to avoid.
Learn to master the elements of a children’s book, including plot, character, and voice. Get tips and insights into creating a series.
The techniques discussed will also work for stand alones. Bring paper.
Debbie Dady recently full-filled the dream of living in a log cabin by moving to Sevierville, TN.
A former teacher and librarian, Debbie is also the author and co-author of 166 traditionally published
books such as the Adventures of the Bailey School Kids and the Mermaid Tales.
Her newest book from Simon and Schuster is Ready Set Goal!
Rick Starkey, a Sevier County native, is the author of Blue Bones with Leap Books.
Rick lives in a 200-year-old log cabin in the Great Smoky Arts and Community in Gatlinburg
Tennessee where he and his wife own Make It Magic, a magic shop and craft store.
Program 10:15-11:00AM: Kathryn Smith
Kathryn Smith Author of The Gatekeeper; Missy LeHand, FDR, and the Untold Story of the Partnership that Defined a
Presidency; Kathryn is a journalist and writer with a life-long interest in FDR and his circle.
She has lived all her life in Georgia and South Carolina, and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University
of Georgia. She worked as a daily newspaper reporter and editor, and has been the book columnist for the Anderson
Independent Mail for twenty years.
She has been involved through Rotary International in the worldwide effort to eradicate polio, called PolioPlus, and
she has lectured and spoken on FDR’s leadership in that arena. Smith is the author of an oral history of World War II
told by living veterans and civilians called “A Necessary War.”
Program 10:15-11:00AM: RB Morris
RB Morris a Knoxville native, has published several books of poetry, including “Early Fires,” “Littoral Zones” and
“The Mockingbird Poems.” He has served as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Tennessee.
As a singer-songwriter, he has released a half-dozen acclaimed albums and EPs, and his songs have been recorded by John Prine and Marianne Faithfull,
Lucinda Williams once called him “the greatest unknown songwriter in the country,” and Steve Earle said,
“R.B. Morris is the reason I started writing poetry.”
He is currently serving as Poet Laureate of Knoxville.
Featured Speaker 11:15-12:00AM: Mark Powell
Mark Powell has been called the " best Appalachian novelist of his generation" by Ron Rash, and a writer "on the verge of greatness" by Pat Conroy.
He is the author of five novels, including Echolocation, forthcoming from Tyrus/Simon & Schuster
in June, 2017. Powell has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Breadloaf
and Sewanee Writers' Conferences, and in 2014 was a Fulbright Fellow to Slovakia.
In 2009 he received the Chaffin Award for contributions to Appalachian literature.
He holds degrees from Yale Divinity School, the University of South Carolina, and the Citadel.
He lives in the mountains of North Carolina where he teaches at Appalachian State University.
Program 11:15-12:00AM: Jennifer McGaha
A native of western North Carolina, Jennifer lives with her husband, five dogs, numerous chickens, herd of dairy goats, and one high-maintenance cat in a
wooded Appalachian hollow where she farms and writes about family, farming, and Appalachian culture.
Her creative nonfiction, essays, and humor pieces have appeared in dozens of blogs, magazines,
and journals including The Good Men Project, PANK, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Baltimore Fishbowl,
Your Impossible Voice, The Brooklyner, Switchback, Little Patuxent Review, Lumina, and others.
She is also a regular contributor to The Huffington Post.
An experienced teacher and workshop facilitator, Jennifer is currently at work on a memoir about her life in the woods.
Luncheon Keynote Speaker 12:30-2:00PM: Wiley Cash
Wiley Cash holds a B.A. in Literature from the University of North Carolina-Asheville,
an M.A. in English from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.
He has received grants and fellowships from the Asheville Area Arts Council,
the Thomas Wolfe Society, the MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo.
His stories have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Roanoke Review and The Carolina Quarterly,
and his essays on Southern literature have appeared in American Literary Realism, The South Carolina Review, and other publications.
Wiley is writer-in-residence at the University of North Carolina-Asheville and
teaches in the Low-Residency MFA Program in Fiction and Nonfiction Writing at
Southern New Hampshire University. A native of North Carolina, he lives in Wilmington, NC with his wife and their two young daughters.
Panel Discussion 2:15-3:30PM
Bill Landry is the voice, host, narrator, and co-producer of The Heartland Series, which has aired on WBIR-TV for nearly thirty
years. Since its beginnings in 1984, over 1,900 short features have been produced, including 150 half-hour specials. Bill has
written, produced, and acted in many of the episodes.Receiving an MFA from Trinity University at the Dallas Theater Center
and a BA in literature from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Bill has gone on to receive two Emmy Awards for
directing The Heartland Series, the Education in Appalachia Award from Carson-Newman University, and an Honorary Doctorate in
Humanities from Lincoln Memorial University.For over thirty years Bill has written, produced, and performed his one-man play,
Einstein the Man.
He has presented the play over 1,000 times in thirty-eight states and two provinces of Canada. In 2009,
Bill premiered his DVD production of William Bartram – An Unlikely Explorer for the seventy-fifth anniversary of the founding
of The Great Smoky Mountain National Park, which tells the tale of the little known eighteenth-century explorer, adventurer,
and naturalist.In 2011, Governor Bill Haslam appointed Landry to the Tennessee Historical Commission. Deeply rooted in the
Appalachian region, Bill has served on the boards of Fish Hospitality Pantries, Beck Cultural Exchange, the Clarence Brown
Theater, the Princess Theater Foundation in Harriman, and the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum in Vonore, Tennessee. In 2011,
his book, Appalachian Tales & Heartland Adventures was published by Celtic Cat Publishing, and is now in its third printing.
Bill works as a spokesman for WBIR-TV and for several other companies including Hallsdale
Powell Utility District. He continues to write, direct, and produce video documentaries,
and gives lectures and speeches, including his popular presentations of “An Evening with Bill Landry.”
Sam Venable has written for the Knoxville News Sentinel since 1970, first as outdoors editor
and since 1985 as a columnist who specializes in humor. He is a graduate of the University of
Tennessee and author of 12 books. His most recent two books are “WARNING! This Product Contains
Nuttiness: A Fun Look at the Bizarre World in which We Live” and “How to Tawlk and Rite Good: A guide to the language of Southern Appalachia.”
He is a humor columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel. He assumed that position in 1985
after serving as the newspaper’s outdoors editor for fifteen years. In September 2014, he
retired from daily duties at the News Sentinel but continues to write regular columns for both the Local News and Sports sections.
Sam is a native of Knoxville. He is a 1969 graduate of the University of Tennessee with a
degree in journalism and minor studies in forestry and wildlife management. Prior to joining
the News Sentinel’s staff, he worked as a police reporter and feature writer for the Knoxville Journal and the Chattanooga News-Free Press.
Sam is a member of the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame (Class of 2009) and Tennessee
Journalism Hall of Fame (Class of 2014). He has won more than three dozen national and regional
writing awards, including the national feature writing award from the Society of Professional
Journalists for his 2014 series, “Fragments of Hate.” The series also was nominated for the
Pulitzer Prize. Sam has also been widely published outside the newspaper field. He sold his
first magazine article as a senior in college and since has compiled more than 150 periodical credits to his record.
In 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2005, his humorous commentaries were judged “best in state” by the
Tennessee Press Association. Twice, (2010 and 2012) he won the 11-state Southeast “Green Eyeshade”
humor-writing award from the Society of Professional Journalists.
Linn Stepp is on adjunct faculty at Tusculum College where she teaches research and has
taught a wide variety of psychology and counseling courses for over 16 years.
Her business background includes over 25 years in marketing, sales, production art, and
regional publishing. She has editorial and writing experience in regional magazines and in the academic field.
Stepp has nine published novels each set in different locations around the Smoky Mountains.
Stepp and her husband have published a Smokies hiking guide.
Stephen Lyn Bales
Stephen Lyn Bales is senior naturalist at Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. He has written for Smithsonian magazine
and is a regular contributor to The Tennessee Conservationist magazine. Bales is also a regular speaker at Wilderness Wildlife
Week and other venues.
His first book "Natural Histories," published by UT Press, covered the natural history of the
Tennessee Valley. Bales' second book, "Ghost Birds: Jim Tanner and the Quest for the Ivory-billed
Woodpecker, 1935-1941" is the compelling story of Jim Tanner and his fieldwork on the "Lord God Bird"
in the late 1930s. Tanner was the only ornithologist to conduct an in-depth study of the largest woodpecker
to live in the United States, the legendary ghost bird of the South. This species became the subject of
considerable controversy during the past decade. Tanner's fieldwork in the 1930s while a grad student at
Cornell University provide a detailed look into the natural history of this species that may or may not be extinct.
"Everyone who is interested in the ivory-billed woodpecker will want to read this book--from scientists who wish to
examine the data from all the places Tanner explored to the average person who just wants to read a compelling story,
"Tim Gallagher, author of The Grail Bird: The Rediscovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker "Ghost Birds resembles the
recollections and musings of a man at the bedside of a friend struggling against a fatal illness...fascinating in its
detail of the day-to-day existence of the last known group of these magnificent birds, the book also records a dogged
scientist's frustrating search through southern swamps for other ivory-bills," writes Frank Graham Jr. in Audubon
magazine"Ghost Birds" was also reviewed in Living Bird and excerpted on the Audubon online edition. Bales keeps a
natural history blog at http://stephenlynbales.blogspot.com.