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Ann J. Abadie is former associate director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi and coeditor of numerous scholarly collections from the Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference. Among those many volumes, Fifty Years after Faulkner was released in paperback in July 2020.
Kristen Arnett is the author of the New York Times-bestselling novel Mostly Dead Things and the story collection Felt in the Jaw. A queer writer based in Florida, she has written for The New York Times, Guernica, BuzzFeed, McSweeney’s, The Guardian, Salon, and elsewhere. She has been a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and a winner of the Ninth Letter Literary Award in Fiction and the Coil Book Award.
Mateo Askaripour’s work aims to empower people of color to seize opportunities for advancement, no matter the obstacle. He was a 2018 Rhode Island Writers Colony writer-in-residence, and his writing has appeared in Entrepreneur, Lit Hub, Catapult, The Rumpus, Medium, and elsewhere. His debut novel Black Buck was an instant New York Times bestseller and a Read With Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick. He lives in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @AskMateo.
Cynthia Barnett is the author of three previous books, including Rain, which was longlisted for the National Book Award and named a finalist for the PEN/E. O. Wilson Award for Literary Science Writing. She lives with her family in Gainesville, Florida, where she is also Environmental Journalist in Residence at the University of Florida. http://cynthiabarnett.net
Born in Saigon and raised on Boston’s north shore, Quan Barry is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the author of four poetry books; her third book, Water Puppets, won the AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and was a PEN/Open Book finalist. She has received NEA Fellowships in both fiction and poetry, and her work has appeared in such publications as Ms. and The New Yorker. Barry lives in Wisconsin.
Jennifer is a native of Milton, Florida but has lived in Jackson for 25 years. She attended Northland Baptist Bible College and later received her master’s degree in history from Florida State University. As an architectural historian with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jennifer has surveyed over 800 historic Mississippi schools, conducted building-by-building damage assessments in fourteen historic districts on the Coast after Hurricane Katrina, and more recently has documented scores of antebellum outbuildings in and around Natchez. In addition to publishing several scholarly articles about school architecture and segregation, she has written numerous National Register nominations for historic schools around Mississippi. In 2016, she authored the National Historic Landmark nomination for the Medgar and Myrlie Evers House in Jackson. As Chief Architectural Historian, she oversees the National Register of Historic Places and the Survey and Inventory programs and serves on the Review Committee for the Mississippi Landmark program.
Sandra Beasley is the author of four poetry collections-Made to Explode, Count the Waves, I Was the Jukebox, which won the 2009 Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Theories of Falling-as well as Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life, a disability memoir and cultural history of food allergies. She served as the editor for Vinegar and Char: Verse from the Southern Foodways Alliance. Honors for her work include the 2019 Munster Literature Centre’s John Montague International Poetry Fellowship, a 2015 NEA fellowship, and five DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities fellowships. She lives in Washington, D.C.
Kai Bird is a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and journalist. He is the acclaimed author of biographies of John J. McCloy and of McGeorge and William Bundy. He won the Pulitzer Prize for biography for American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer (co-authored with Martin J. Sherwin). His work includes critical writings on the Vietnam War, Hiroshima, nuclear weapons, the Cold War, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the CIA. He lives in New York City and Washington, D.C., with his wife, Susan Goldmark.
Richard Boada is the author of the poetry collections: We Find Each Other in the Darkness, The Error of Nostalgia, and Archipelago Sinking. He is the recipient of the 2020 Mississippi Arts Commission Poetry Fellowship and has been nominated for the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Award in 2013, 2015, and 2021. He is a graduate of the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. His poetry appears in The Southern Poetry Anthology, Urban Voices: 51 Poets / 51 Poems, Rhino, Crab Orchard Review, Poetry East, North American Review, and Third Coast, among others. Currently, he teaches creative writing at the West Virginia Wesleyan College MFA Low Residency Program.
William Boyle is the author of the novels Gravesend, The Lonely Witness, A Friend is a Gift You Give Yourself, City of Margins, and Shoot The Moonlight Out (forthcoming November 2021), all available from Pegasus Crime.
Betsy Bradley has been the director of the Mississippi Museum of Art since 2001. She served previously as the executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission. Bradley received her undergraduate degree in English literature from Millsaps College, and her master’s degree with continuing study in English from Vanderbilt University.
Jennifer Brannock is the Curator of Rare Books and Mississippiana at the University of Southern Mississippi. She has a BA in Art History and a MSLS from the University of Kentucky.
Elizabeth Miki Brina is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Bread Loaf Scholarship and a New York State Summer Writers Institute Scholarship. She currently lives and teaches in New Orleans.
Brian Broome is an award-winning writer, poet, and screenwriter, and K. Leroy Irvis Fellow and instructor in the Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh, where he is pursuing an MFA. He has been a finalist in The Moth storytelling competition and won the grand prize in Carnegie Mellon University’s Martin Luther King Writing Awards. He lives in Pittsburgh.
Carolyn J. Brown is a writer, editor, and independent scholar from Jackson, Mississippi. She is author of The Artist’s Sketch: A Biography of Painter Kate Freeman Clark (2017) and the award-winning biographies A Daring Life: A Biography of Eudora Welty (2012) and Song of My Life: A Biography of Margaret Walker (2014). Her most recent book is A De Grummond Primer: Highlights of the Children’s Literature Collection. All her books are published by University Press of Mississippi. Find Carolyn at www.carolynjbrown.net.
“Julie K. Brown’s important book offers not just a definitive account of the Epstein case, but a compelling window into her own experiences as a dogged reporter at a regional newspaper, facing off against both powerful interests set against her reporting.” - Ronan Farrow, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Catch and Kill.
Dauntless journalist Julie K. Brown recounts her uncompromising and risky investigation of Jeffrey Epstein’s underage sex trafficking operation, and the explosive reporting for the Miami Herald that finally brought him to justice while exposing the powerful people and broken system that protected him.
Mike Bunn is a historian and author who has worked with several cultural heritage organizations in the Southeast. He currently serves as Director of Historic Blakeley State Park in Spanish Fort, Alabama. He is author or co-author of several books, including Fourteenth Colony: The Forgotten Story of the Gulf South During America’s Revolutionary Era; The Assault on Fort Blakeley: “The Thunder and Lightning of Battle (forthcoming in 2021); Early Alabama: An Illustrated Guide to the Formative Years, 1798-1826; Alabama From Territory to Statehood: An Alabama Heritage Bicentennial Collection; Well Worth Stopping to See: Antebellum Columbus, Georgia Through the Eyes of Travelers; Civil War Eufaula; Battle for the Southern Frontier: The Creek War and the War of 1812; and Images of America: The Lower Chattahoochee River. Mike is editor of Muscogiana, the journal of the Muscogee County (Georgia) Genealogical Society. He is also Chair of the Baldwin County Historic Development Commission. Mike earned his undergraduate degree at Faulkner University and two masters degrees at the University of Alabama. Mike and his wife Tonya live in Daphne, Alabama with their daughter Zoey. www.mikebunn.net
Tori Bush is a writer, teacher and PhD candidate in the English department at Louisiana State University with an interest in the environmental humanities, postcolonial theory, and critical race studies. She is co-editor of the anthology, The Gulf South: An Anthology of Environmental Writing published by University Press of Florida in 2021. She also has an MFA in creative nonfiction and has forthcoming works in Southern Quarterly and ISLE.
Jimmy Cajoleas was born in Jackson, Mississippi. He earned his MFA from the University of Mississippi and is the author of five novels for children and young adults. He now lives in New York.
Tracy Carr is the Mississippi Center for the Book Director and the Library Services Director at the Mississippi Library Commission.
Adam Clay was born and raised in Mississippi. He is the author of four book of poems. His most recent collection, To Make Room for the Sea, was published by Milkweed Editions in 2020. His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Denver Quarterly, Tin House, Bennington Review, Georgia Review, Boston Review, Iowa Review, and elsewhere. He is a recipient of a fellowship from the Mississippi Arts Commission. He directs the Center for Writers at The University of Southern Mississippi, where he teaches creative writing and edits Mississippi Review.
M Shelly Conner is an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Central Arkansas. She and her wife live on their central Arkansas homestead with their dog Whiskey where she writes about DIY, black queer womanhood, self-sustainable living and their interesting intersections. Her debut novel everyman (Blackstone Publishing) is available for pre-order from all retailers and will be released July 20, 2021.
Karen L. Cox is an award-winning historian, Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, and professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. A successful public intellectual, she has written opeds for the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, TIME, and more.
Dr. Cox regularly gives media interviews on the subject of southern history and culture and is the author of four books, including No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice (April 2021), Dreaming of Dixie: How the South Was Created in American Popular Culture, and Goat Castle: A True Story of Murder, Race, and the Gothic South.
Jim Crockett is Professor Emeritus of Accountancy at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), and an Adjunct Professor of Accountancy at The University of Mississippi. He earned the BBA and MBA degrees from the University of Mississippi and the DBA from Mississippi State University. Dr. Crockett has served on the faculty of the University of West Florida and as Chairman of the its Department of Finance and Accounting. He also served as Professor and Director of the School of Professional Accountancy at USM. In 2012 he served as Visiting Professor of Accountancy at Western Kentucky University (WKU. Crockett has been an active member of the Mississippi Society of CPAs (MSCPA), the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the Institute of Management Accounting (IMA), and the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). He was the MSCPA’s Educator of the Year in 2005 and Treasurer of the MSCPA in 2006-2007. Crockett has presented many continuing professional education programs on a national basis. He has published three books with the University Press of Mississippi (Operation Pretense, Hands in the Till, and Power Greed Hubris), two monographs, and numerous articles in professional and academic journals. Crockett retired as a Lt. Colonel from the U.S. Air Force Reserve. He is married to the former Dorothy Douglas and they have two grown sons and four grandchildren. Jim is a life-long sports fan.
Patrick Dean writes on the outdoors, outdoor athletes, and the environment. He has worked as a teacher, a political media director, and is presently the executive director of a rail-trail nonprofit. An avid trail-runner, paddler, and mountain-biker, he lives with his wife and dogs on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee.
A native of Holly Springs, Mississippi, Roy is the Executive Director and one of the founders of the Hill Country Project . He was active as a high school student in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, and then as a general organizer. Roy earned his Bachelor’s degree in Sociology at Brandeis University in 1970. Continuing his education at Brandeis, he went on to earn a Masters and later a Doctorate in Political Science in 1978. He has also pursued additional studies at Jackson State, Duke, Carnegie-Mellon, Michigan and Harvard Universities.
Active in many community, civic and professional organization, Roy has received numerous awards and has been cited for outstanding achievements and contributions, including National Alumni of the Year Award from Brandeis. Roy retired 2008 as Vice President for Jackson State University. During his ten year tenure at Jackson State, he also served as Executive Vice President.
He has a wife, Rubye and one daughter, Aisha Isoke.
Alda P. Dobbs is the author of the upcoming novel Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna. She was born in a small town in northern Mexico but moved to San Antonio, Texas as a child. Alda studied physics and worked as an engineer before pursuing her love of storytelling. She’s as passionate about connecting children to their past, their communities, different cultures and nature as she is about writing. Alda lives with her husband and two children outside Houston, Texas.
Deborah D. Douglas is the Eugene S. Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Professor of Journalism at DePauw University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project, leading thought leadership fellowships and programs that include the University of Texas at Austin, Yale University, Dartmouth College, Columbia University, Urgent Action Fund in South Africa and Kenya, and the McCormick Foundation-supported Youth Narrating Our World (YNOW). While teaching at her alma mater, Northwestern University’s Medill School, she spearheaded a graduate investigative journalism capstone on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and taught best practices in Karachi, Pakistan. She is an award-winning journalist, including the 2019 Studs Terkel award, and founding managing editor of MLK50: Justice Through Journalism. Douglas is author of “Moon U.S. Civil Rights Trail: A Traveler’s Guide to the People, Places, and Events That Made the Movement” (Moon Travel, 2021) and is among 90 contributors to “Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019,” edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain (Random House/One World).
Lee Durkee is a graduate of the Mississippi public school system and was bussed to various schools throughout the Hattiesburg area. He later attended Pearl River Junior College, the University of Southern Mississippi, the University of Arkansas, and Syracuse University. He is the author of the novels Rides of the Midway (WW Norton, 2000) and The Last Taxi Driver (Tin House Books, 2020). His work has appeared in Harper’s Magazine, The Sun, The Best of the Oxford American, Zoetrope: All Story, Tin House, and Mississippi Noir. In 2022 Scribner will publish Stalking Shakespeare, a memoir about his obsession with trying to find a lost portrait of William Shakespeare. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi.
John T Edge, who lives and works in Oxford, has written or edited more than a dozen books including The Potlikker Papers. A history of the modern South, told through food, the book was named to more than a dozen “best book of the year” lists. Edge directs the Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi and serves as a faculty member for the MFA Program in Narrative Nonfiction at The University of Georgia. Winner of the 2018 nonfiction prize from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters, Edge was elected to the Georgia Writer’s Hall of Fame in 2019.
Helen Ellis is the author of Southern Lady Code, American Housewife and Eating the Cheshire Cat. Raised in Alabama, she lives with her husband in New York City. You can find her on Twitter @WhatIDoAllDay and Instagram @American Housewife.
Photo by Lara Magzan Photography
Anjali Enjeti is a former attorney, award-winning journalist, and activist. She writes a political column for ZORA magazine and teaches creative writing in the MFA program at Reinhardt University. Her recent essays and articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Newsday, The Nation, Longreads, The Georgia Review, Guernica, Al Jazeera, and The Paris Review. She lives with her family near Atlanta.
W. Ralph Eubanks is the author of A Place Like Mississippi: A Journey Through A Real and Imagined Literary Landscape (Timber Press, March 2021). A native of Mount Olive, Mississippi, he is the author of two other books: Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey Into Mississippi’s Dark Past and The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South. His essays have been published in the Hedgehog Review, Vanity Fair, The American Scholar, The Georgia Review, and The New Yorker. A 2007 Guggenheim Fellow, he is currently a visiting professor of English and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi. He divides his time between Oxford, Mississippi, and Washington, DC.
Beth Ann Fennelly, a 2020 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow, is the former poet laureate of Mississippi and teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Mississippi. She’s won grants and awards from the N.E.A., the United States Artists, a Pushcart, and a Fulbright to Brazil. Fennelly has published three books of poetry and three of prose, most recently, Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs, which was a Goodreaders Favorite and an Atlanta Journal Constitution Best Book. She lives with her husband, Tom Franklin, and their three children In Oxford, MS. www.bethannfennelly.com
William Ferris is the Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History Emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (1997-2001), Ferris has written or edited 16 books and created 15 documentary films. He co-edited with Charles Wilson the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His books include: Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues, The Storied South: Voices of Writers and Artists, and The South in Color: A Visual Journal. His most recent publication Voices of Mississippi received two Grammy Awards for Best Liner Notes and for Best Historical Album. Ferris curated “I Am a Man:” Civil Rights Photographs in the American South-1960-1970, which is on exhibit at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and is accompanied by his latest book “I Am a Man”: Civil Rights Photographs in the American South-1960-1970.
His honors include the Charles Frankel Prize in the Humanities, the American Library Association’s Dartmouth Medal, the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award, and the W.C. Handy Blues Award. In 1991, Rolling Stone magazine named him among the Top Ten Professors in the United States. He is a Fellow of the American Folklore Society. Ferris received the B. L. C. Wailes Award, given to a Mississippian who has achieved national recognition in the field of history by the Mississippi Historical Society. In 2017, Ferris received the Mississippi Governor’s Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Gilbert Ford holds a BFA in Illustration from Pratt Institute and an MFA in Writing For Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. He is the author and illustrator of picture books Flying Lessons, The Marvelous Thing That Came from a Spring, and How the Cookie Crumbled. The Mysterious Messenger marks his middle grade novel debut that he has authored and illustrated.
Monika Gehlawat is Associate Director of the School of Humanities and Professor of English at the University of Southern Mississippi. Her critical monograph In Defense of Dialogue: Reading Habermas and Postwar American Literature (2020) is a featured title in Routledge’s Press Research in American Literature and Culture Series. She writes and teaches about contemporary literature, visual art, and critical and aesthetic theory, and has published essays in Post45, Contemporary Literature, The James Baldwin Review, and Literary Imaginations, among others. She is the 2021 recipient of USM’s Faculty Research Award and the 2020 recipient of the Faculty Senate Teaching Award. Along with serving as the Series Editor of Literary Conversations, Gehlawat is also Critic for the Center for Writers and Post-Chair of the University Graduate Council. Her next project focuses on twenty-first century ekphrastic novels and reflects her career-long commitment to working in the interdisciplinary mode.
Melissa Ginsburg is the author of the novels The House Uptown and Sunset City, the poetry collection Dear Weather Ghost, and two poetry chapbooks, Arbor and Double Blind. A second poetry collection, Doll Apollo, will be published in 2022 by LSU Press, and the poetry chapbook Apollo is forthcoming in July from Condensery Press. Her poems have appeared in the New Yorker, Guernica, Kenyon Review, Fence, Southwest Review, and other magazines. Originally from Houston, Texas, Melissa studied poetry at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She is Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Mississippi, and serves as Associate Editor of Tupelo Quarterly. She lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with two dogs, eleven chickens, and the writer Chris Offutt.
Phillip “Pip” Gordon was born in Memphis and grew up in West Tennessee. He graduated in 2005 from the University of Tennessee at Martin and holds an MA and PhD from the University of Mississippi where he was awarded the Francis Bell McCool Fellowship for Faulkner Studies. He has published essays on AIDS narratives, on representations of bullying and suicide in LGBTQ+ fiction for Young Adults, and on “EthnoHeteroNationalism” in the age of Trump. He’s also published essays on Harper Lee, Alice Walker, and Hubert Creekmore, in addition to numerous essays on William Faulkner. His first book, Gay Faulkner: Uncovering a Homosexual Presence in Yoknapatawpha and Beyond, was published by the University Press of Mississippi in January 2020. His most recent projects include an essay on the how the 1918 Influenza pandemic influenced Faulkner’s writing in the Fall 2020 issue of the Mississippi Quarterly and forthcoming essay on trans studies approaches to Faulkner’s works in the Faulkner Journal.
He currently lives in Platteville, Wisconsin, where he is an Associate Professor of English and Gay Studies Coordinator for the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
Michael Gorra is the Mary August Jordan Professor of English, at Smith College, where he has taught since 1985. His books include The Saddest Words: William Faulkner’s Civil War (2020), described by Drew Gilpin Faust as “rich, complex, and eloquent” and Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece (2012), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A 2007 Guggenheim Fellow, he is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books and other journals, and his travel essays have twice been included in the annual volumes of Best American Travel Writing. Earlier books include The Bells in Their Silence: Travels through Germany (2004); After Empire: Scott, Naipaul, Rushdie (1997); and The English Novel at Mid-Century (1990).
Gorra is the editor of the newly-published Library of America edition of the Mississippi-born writer Elizabeth Spencer (Novels and Stories, 2021) and has also edited Norton Critical Editions of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury. Born in New London, Connecticut, Gorra was educated at Amherst College and Stanford University. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts with his wife, the art historian Brigitte Buettner. They have one grown daughter.
John Caleb Grenn, a native of Hattiesburg, MS and graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, loves books. In early 2020, he started the Instagram-based “Coronavirus Book Club” that has virtually promoted primarily debut authors, connecting them with readers from around the world. He is a physician in Jackson, MS practicing Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, currently serving as a Chief Resident in Pediatrics at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He lives with his wife, Emily, and dogs Mr. BoJangles and Ellie Bean in Fondren, not too far from his favorite bookstore, Lemuria.
Sarah Frances Hardy is the author/illustrator of three children’s picture books: Puzzled by Pink, Paint Me!, and Dress Me!. When she’s not in her Oxford, Mississippi, studio painting and creating, Sarah Frances spends her time volunteering with the Friends of the University of Mississippi Library, the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Kristin Harmel is the New York Times bestselling, USA Today bestselling, and #1 international bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including The Forest of Vanishing Stars, The Book of Lost Names and The Winemaker’s Wife. Kristin, whose books have been translated into 29 languages, is also the co-founder and co-host of the popular web series and podcast Friends & Fiction. She lives in Orlando with her husband and son. Visit her at www.KristinHarmel.com.
Artist and model maker based in Oxford, MS. Created small models of old Oxford during the pandemic and with the help of photographer Pableaux Johnson, put the collection together in book form, tiny oxford.
Derrick Harriell is the author of Stripper in Wonderland (LSU Press, 2017). He is an Associate Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi.
Kristy Woodson Harvey is the New York Times bestselling author of six novels, including Feels Like Falling, The Peachtree Bluff series, and Under the Southern Sky. A Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s school of journalism, her writing has appeared in numerous online and print publications including Southern Living, Traditional Home, USA Today, Domino, and O. Henry. Kristy is the winner of the Lucy Bramlette Patterson Award for Excellence in Creative Writing and a finalist for the Southern Book Prize. Her work has been optioned for film and television, and her books have received numerous accolades including Southern Living’s Most Anticipated Beach Reads, Parade’s Big Fiction Reads, and Entertainment Weekly’s Spring Reading Picks. Kristy is the co-creator and co-host of the weekly web show and podcast Friends & Fiction. She blogs with her mom Beth Woodson on Design Chic, and loves connecting with fans on KristyWoodsonHarvey.com. She lives on the North Carolina coast with her husband and son where she is (always!) working on her next novel.
Lauren Hough was born in Germany and raised in seven countries and West Texas. She’s been an airman in the U.S. Air Force, a green-aproned barista, a bartender, a livery driver, and, for a time, a cable guy. Her work has appeared in Granta, The Wrath-Bearing Tree, The Guardian, and HuffPost. She lives in Austin.
Erika Howard leads the direction for impact and public programs for the documentary series. She joined FRONTLINE from POV/American Documentary, where she served as the Senior Director of Station Marketing and Audience Engagement, and created engagement campaigns and partnerships for such titles as Dark Money, Bill Nye: Science Guy, Whose Streets, and Minding the Gap. She previously served as the Marketing Manager for Women Make Movies, and has presented on panels at the Cannes Film Festival, SXSW, the Athena Film Festival, NYU, PBS conferences and other festivals around impact, audience engagement, and multicultural audience growth.
Howard Hunter is a native of New Orleans and a history teacher 38 years. He has published articles on New Orleans and the Civil War for both academic and general audiences. He is past president of the Louisiana Historical Society. Tearing Down the Lost Cause with co-author James Gill is his first book.
Melissa Iwai is a children’s book author and illustrator who incorporates both traditional and digital media into her art. When she’s not working, Melissa cooks and develops her own recipes. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son.
Ashley M. Jones holds an MFA in Poetry from Florida International University, and she is the author of Magic City Gospel and dark / / thing. Her poetry has earned several awards, including the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, the Silver Medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards, the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry, a Literature Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize, and the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award. She was a finalist for the Ruth Lily Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship in 2020. Her poems and essays appear in or are forthcoming at CNN, POETRY, The Oxford American, Origins Journal, The Quarry by Split This Rock, Obsidian, and many others. She teaches at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, she co-directs PEN Birmingham, and she is the founding director of the Magic City Poetry Festival.
Robert Jones, Jr. is a writer from New York City. He received his B.F.A. in creative writing, and M.F.A. in fiction from Brooklyn College. He has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times, Essence, and The Paris Review. He is the creator and curator of the social-justice, social-media community Son of Baldwin, which has over 275,000 members across platforms. The Prophets is his debut novel.
Robert Khayat is Chancellor Emeritus at the University of Mississippi. As a student at Ole Miss, he was a two-time All-SEC baseball player. He was selected as an Academic All American football player and he led the nation in scoring among all college kickers. He played in the National Football League with the Washington Redskins for three seasons and was selected for the Pro Bowl in 1960. While still playing in the NFL, he enrolled in law school and earned a Juris Doctor degree in 1966. He was appointed to the University of Mississippi law faculty in 1969 and earned an LL.M. from Yale University. He has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the NFL and the Distinguished American Award from the National Football Foundation. He was named chancellor of the University of Mississippi in 1995.
His first book, The Education of a Lifetime, was a New York Times bestselling education book. The Mississippi Library Association named him 2013 Author of the Year, and the book earned a national IPPY Award for best memoir.
Marisa Kwiatkowski is an investigative reporter at USA TODAY. She previously worked for media outlets in Michigan, South Carolina and Indiana. Marisa’s work has spurred federal and state investigations, criminal charges, resignations and changes to federal law and state policy. She and her IndyStar colleagues earned national and state awards for their investigation into USA Gymnastics’ handling of child sexual abuse allegations, including those against former doctor Larry Nassar. Marisa has earned more than 50 other journalism awards. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Grand Valley State University and a master’s degree in business administration from Indiana University. Marisa can be reached at email@example.com or @byMarisaK.
Mitch Landrieu is an American Politician, Lawyer, author, speaker, nonprofit leader and CNN political commentator. He served as the 61st Mayor of New Orleans (2010-2018). Landrieu gained national prominence for his powerful decision to take down four Confederate monuments in New Orleans, which also earned him the prestigious John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. In his best-selling book, In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History, Landrieu recounts his personal journey confronting the issue of race and institutional racism that still plagues America. He recently launched E Pluribus Unum, an initiative in the South created to fulfill America’s promise of justice and opportunity for all by breaking down the barriers that divide us by race and class. Prior to serving as Mayor, Landrieu served two terms as lieutenant governor and 16 years in the state legislature. He also served as President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Anne Geddie Landrum is the wife of Tom Landrum. They were married for sixty-seven years, and they have five children, sixteen grandchildren, and ten great grandchildren. Anne worked with Tom in the Youth Court system, in real estate, and with Primerica Financial Services. Thirty-eight years ago they retired and founded Landrum’s Country - a retail store manufacturing handcrafted pine furniture. A few years later, they established Landrum’s Homestead & Village - a living history museum which attracts visitors from around the country. Today, Anne and her children continue the legacy she and Tom began with the homestead. They encourage others to remember and learn the history of our ancestors, to value family dependence on each other, and to preserve our heritage.
Mike Landrum is one of Tom and Anne Landrum’s sons, and he serves as the Landrum family spokesperson. Mike is a graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi, and he is also an NFL alumni as he played with the Atlanta Falcons from 19884-1986. Mike and his wife Amy are thirty-one year veterans with the NYSE financial services company Primerica. Mike and his wife Amy have five children and five grandchildren, and they reside in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Ariel Lawhon is a critically acclaimed, New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction. She is the author of The Wife The Maid and The Mistress, Flight of Dreams, I Was Anastasia, and the Code Name Hélène. Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, Indie Next, Costco, Amazon Spotlight, and Book of the Month Club selections. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four sons. Ariel splits her time between the grocery store and the baseball field.
Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Kiese Laymon, Ottilie Schillig Professor in English and Creative Writing and the University of Mississippi, is the author of the novel Long Division, the memoir Heavy, and the essay collection How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America.
Robby Luckett received his BA in political science from Yale University and his PhD in history from the University of Georgia. A native Mississippian, he returned home, where he is a tenured Professor of History and Director of the Margaret Walker Center and COFO Civil Rights Education Center at Jackson State University. His books include a collection of essays, Redefining Liberal Arts Education in the 21st Century (University Press of Mississippi, 2021), and a monograph, Joe T. Patterson and the White South’s Dilemma: Evolving Resistance to Black Advancement, (University Press of Mississippi, 2015).
Robby is an Advisory Board member for the Mississippi Book Festival, and he serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors of Common Cause Mississippi and as Secretary of the Board for the Association of African American Museums. In 2017, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba appointed him to the Board of Trustees of Jackson Public Schools, and, in 2018, he received a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership Network Fellowship for his work in racial equity. Robby has three children: Silas, Hazel, and Flip.
John F. Marszalek III is the author of Coming Out of the Magnolia Closet: Same-Sex Couples in Mississippi (2020, University Press of Mississippi), named the 2020 Digital Book World Best Nonfiction Book and Best Book Published by a University Press. He is also a host of the podcast Queer Voices of the South on the New Books Network. John is a National Certified Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor in Mississippi. He has been a counselor educator for over 20 years and is currently clinical faculty of the online clinical mental health counseling program at Southern New Hampshire University. He received his PhD in counselor education at Mississippi State University.
Before moving back to Mississippi, John lived in Buffalo, NY, Washington, DC, Fort Lauderdale, FL, and New Orleans, LA. John lives with his husband in Starkville, Mississippi.
Melissa M. Martin grew up on the Louisiana coast and has lived in New Orleans for 20 years. After graduating from Loyola University in New Orleans, she worked as an adult literacy teacher until she evacuated to Northern California during Hurricane Katrina. While living there, she worked at some of the top Napa Valley vineyards and restaurants, and this is where she honed her self-taught culinary skills to a professional level. Martin returned to New Orleans three years later and opened Satsuma Café, a casual farm-to-table restaurant, and worked at Café Hope, a nonprofit restaurant, teaching at-risk youth to cook seasonal food. In 2014, she opened Mosquito Supper Club, where she serves family-style meals to small groups of guests who reserve a place at her table months in advance. Find her on Instagram @mosquitosupperclub.
Michael Massing is a former executive editor of the Columbia Journalism Review and a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The American Prospect, Politico, The Guardian, and The Intercept. He is the author of The Fix, a critical study of the U.S. war on drugs; Now They Tell Us: The American Press and Iraq; and Fatal Discord: Erasmus, Luther, and the Fight for the Western Mind (a New York Times notable book of 2018). In 1992 he was named a MacArthur Fellow, and in 2011 he was a fellow at the Leon Levy Center for Biography at the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the co-founder of the Committee to Protect Journalists and sits on its board as well as on the board of the Alicia Patterson Foundation, and he is a member of the New York Institute for the Humanities. He has a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is currently at work on a book about the hidden world of money, power, and influence.
Storytelling is the heart and soul of Elizabeth McCain’s life. Originally from Mississippi, she is the author of a compelling memoir, A Lesbian Belle Tells OUTrageous Southern Stories of Family, Loss, and Love, an expansion of her award-winning one-woman play. Elizabeth’s true tales are about her Mississippi roots, coming out in Washington, DC as a lipstick lesbian, experiencing family rejection, and finding love and belonging. Her stories take readers and audiences on a wild ride through a Southern Belle’s life of soul-searching, rule breaking, and truth telling. Filled with heart and humor, as only this belle can tell, her memoir was nominated for Best Lesbian Memoir of 2021 by the Lambda Literary Society and the Golden Crown Society. As a transformational storyteller, story coach, spiritual counselor, and Interfaith minister, Elizabeth’s mission is to inspire people to share their own stories for personal growth, transformation, and community building. She lives in the Washington, DC area with her spouse, Marie, and their two spoiled dogs. Elizabeth will perform her play in October in Provincetown, MA, for Women’s Week. She will also be performing and doing book readings throughout the South soon. www.elizabethmccain.com.
Chris McLaughlin is founder and executive director of the Animal Rescue Front. A graduate of the University of Massachusetts Boston with a BA in earth sciences, she lives in Massachusetts with two cats. This is her first book.
Lisa McNair is the younger sister of Denise McNair, victim of the 16th Street Baptist church bombing. A lifelong resident of Birmingham, Lisa is a professional photographer and national public speaker with a personal memoir due out in 2021.
The stories of Clarion-Ledger investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a suspected serial killer behind bars. His stories have also exposed injustices and corruption in Mississippi, helping lead to investigations, exonerations, firings and reforms of state agencies. A winner of a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant and more than 30 other national awards, including being named a Pulitzer Prize finalist, he is finishing his memoir about his pursuit of civil rights cold cases, Race Against Time, for Simon & Schuster.
Jennifer Moffett is the author of the novel Those Who Prey (a 2021 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Youth Literature nominee) and a forthcoming novel (2022) published by Atheneum/Simon & Schuster. After working in New York for several animated television series, which included Arthur and Disney’s Doug, she received an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Mississippi and wrote for regional publications, including Jackson Free Press. Her short stories and poems have appeared in various literary journals, including New Orleans Review and descant, where she is an Associate Fiction Editor. She won the Gary Wilson Short Story Award and published work in Sundress Publications’ Not Somewhere Else But Here: A Contemporary Anthology of Women and Place. She teaches creative writing at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, where she is their 2021 Mississippi Humanities Council Instructor of the Year. Learn more at jbmoffett.com.
Allison Moorer is a singer/songwriter, producer, and author who has released ten critically acclaimed albums. Her first memoir, Blood, was released in October 2019 to high praise and received starred reviews in Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, and Booklist. She has been nominated for Academy, Grammy, Americana Music Association, and Academy of Country Music Awards. Allison holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School; her work has been published in The Wall Street Journal, American Songwriter, Guernica, No Depression, Literary Hub, and The Bitter Southerner. She received the Hall-Waters Prize for Excellence in Southern Writing in 2020. Her second memoir will be released in October 2021. She lives in Nashville.
Michael Morris is the director of public engagement at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, where he has worked since 2016. Previously, Morris worked at the Fannie Lou Hamer Institute on Citizenship and Democracy and the Margaret Walker Center at Jackson State University (JSU). He earned his BA in history and his MA in political science from JSU. Morris is a life-long resident of Jackson, Mississippi.
Scott Naugle is the co-owner of Pass Christian Books/Cat Island Coffeehouse on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He is the President of Consumer Solutions for BXS Insurance, a division of BancorpSouth. Scott is a graduate of Penn State University, Millsaps College, and Tulane University. He resides in Pass Christian, Mississippi.
Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the New York Times best-selling author of World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, & Other Astonishments, finalist for the Kirkus Prize in non-fiction, and recently named the Barnes and Noble Book of the Year. She is also the author of four books of poetry, and is poetry editor of Sierra, the national magazine of the Sierra Club. Awards for her writing include a fellowship from the Mississippi Arts Council, Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for poetry, National Endowment of the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Her writing has appeared in NYTimes Magazine, ESPN Magazine, and twice in Best American Poetry. She is professor of English and Creative Writing in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program.
Chris Offutt is the author of the novels The Killing Hills, Country Dark, and The Good Brother, the short-story collections Kentucky Straight and Out of the Woods, and three memoirs: The Same River Twice, No Heroes, and My Father, the Pornographer. His work has appeared in Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays, among many other places. He has written screenplays for Weeds, True Blood, and Treme, and has received fellowships from the Lannan and Guggenheim foundations.
Martin Padgett has an MFA from the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and received a 2019 Lambda Literary Fellowship. He has written for Oxford American, Gravy, Details, and Business Week. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Timothy Pakron is a passionate cook, artist, photographer, and creator of the popular blog Mississippi Vegan. Before devoting himself to the culinary arts, he spent time as a fine artist in Charleston, South Carolina, and New York City. While living in NYC, he created the concept of Mississippi Vegan, merging his past and his present while celebrating kindness to animals through delicious food. His cookbook was released in the fall of 2018 with Avery. Pakron currently lives and works in New Orleans.
Dustin Parsons is the author of Exploded View: Essays on Fatherhood, With Diagrams. His work appears recently in The Georgia Review, Brevity, Waxwing, and many other magazines. He teaches writing and literature at the University of Mississippi.
Torrey Peters is the author of the bestselling novel Detransition, Baby (Random House, 2021), which was longlisted for the Women’s Prize and was a Roxane Gay’s Audacious Book Club Pick. She is also the author of the novellas Infect Your Friends and Loved Ones and The Masker. Peters holds an MFA from the University of Iowa and a Masters in Comparative Literature from Dartmouth. She splits her time between Brooklyn and an off-grid cabin in Vermont.
Ashleigh Bryant Phillips is from rural Woodland, North Carolina. She’s a graduate of Meredith College and earned an MFA from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. Her stories have appeared in The Oxford American, The Paris Review and others. Sleepovers is her first book.
Gin Phillips is the author of six novels, ranging from historical fiction to literary thriller to middle grade. Her work has been sold in 29 countries.
Gin’s debut novel, The Well and the Mine, won the 2009 Barnes & Noble Discover Award. Her recent novel, Fierce Kingdom, was named one of the Best Crime Novels of 2017 by the New York Times Book Review. GiIt was also was named one of the best books of 2017 by Publishers Weekly, NPR, Amazon, and Kirkus Reviews. A Kirkus starred review called it “poignant and profound,” adding that “this adrenaline-fueled thriller will shatter readers like a bullet through bone.”
Born in Montgomery, Al., Gin graduated from Birmingham-Southern College with a degree in political journalism. After time spent in Ireland, New York, and Washington, D.C., she currently lives with her family (plus a schnoodle and a mini golden mountain doodle) in Birmingham.
Charles Pickering started practicing law in 1961. He served as Jones County Prosecuting Attorney From 1964 until 1968 and served in the Mississippi State Senate representing Jones County from 1972 1980. After practicing law for 30 years he served as United States District Judge for the Southern District of Mississippi for 13 years before being appointed to the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which sits in New Orleans. Upon retirement from the 5th Circuit Judge Pickering returned to the practice of law with the Baker Donelson law firm in Jackson. He retired from the practice of law in 2019, but he continues to work on his timber farm. Judge Pickering served as President of the Mississippi Baptist Convention, as Chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, William Carey University, President of Catfish Farmers of America, and as President of Wildlife Mississippi, a non-profit conservation organization. He served for some 12 years on the Board of Mission Mississippi which promotes racial reconciliation through Christian Faith, as well as 12 years on the Board of Alliance Defending Freedom which promotes religious liberty. He served on the original Board of Directors of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi. He continues to serve on the Boards of William Carey, Wildlife Mississippi and Magnolia State Bank. After retiring from the Bench Judge Pickering prepared the petition and led the effort that resulted in the exoneration of Clyde Kennard who was convicted of stealing chicken feed to prevent his being the first Black to be enrolled at the University of Southern Mississippi He is the author of two books, SUPREME CHAOS and A PRICE TOO HIGH. He was featured in a segment of CBS’s 60 Minutes with Mike Wallace and appeared on numerous national television and radio programs. He and his wife of 62 years, Margaret Ann, have 4 children, Paige Dunkerton, Chip Pickering, former U. S. Congressman, Allison Montgomery and Christi Chapman, with 24 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.
Catherine Pierce is the author of four books of poems: Danger Days (2020), The Tornado Is the World (2016), The Girls of Peculiar (2012), and Famous Last Words (2008), winner of the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. Each of her last three books received the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Prize. She is a two-time Pushcart Prize winner and the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mississippi Arts Commission. Pierce’s work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, The New York Times, American Poetry Review, The Nation, The Southern Review, the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series, and elsewhere. She is professor of English and co-director of the creative writing program at Mississippi State University.
Christian Pinnen is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and Political Science at Mississippi College. Dr. Pinnen joined MC’s faculty in 2012 after receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Southern Mississippi. He has published articles and book chapters on colonial Mississippi, specifically the Natchez District. His first book, Complexion of Empire in Natchez: Race and Slavery in the Mississippi Borderlands was published by the University of Georgia Press in 2021. His second book, a co-authored volume with Charles Weeks entitled Colonial Mississippi: A Borrowed Land was published my University Press of Mississippi in 2021 as well. He currently teaches U.S. History, History of the Old South, Latin America Survey, the American Revolution, and American Slavery. His research focuses on race and slavery in the Spanish-American borderlands and capitalism in early America. Currently he is researching the history of the Forks of the Road Slave Market in Natchez for the National Park Service with Max Grivno.
Brian A. Pugh currently serves as executive director of the Stennis Center for Public Service and as adjunct professor at Mississippi State University. Prior to working at the Stennis Center, Pugh worked in state government for over a decade for the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration, Governor’s Office, and the Legislative Budget Office.
Meg Reid is the Director of Hub City Press in Spartanburg, South Carolina. A book designer and editor, she also writes extensively about all areas of design. She holds an MFA in Nonfiction from University of North Carolina Wilmington and moved to Spartanburg in 2013. She lives in a bungalow with her husband, two cats, and a short-legged terrier mix.
Nathaniel Rich is the author of Losing Earth: A Recent History, which received awards from the Society of Environmental Journalists and the American Institute of Physicists and was a finalist for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award; and the novels King Zeno, Odds Against Tomorrow, and The Mayor’s Tongue. He is a writer at large for The New York Times Magazine and a regular contributor to The Atlantic, Harper’s, and The New York Review of Books. His new book is Second Nature: Scenes from a World Remade. Rich lives in New Orleans.
Lyn Roberts has been a bookseller at Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi since 1988. Sometime after that she became the general manager of what is now four stores on five floors in three buildings on Oxford’s town square in the center of town. She lives in Taylor with her husband Douglas.
Ellen Hunter Ruffin, associate professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, has been curator of the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection since 2006. She has served on the Newbery Medal Committee, the Children’s Literature Legacy Award, and the Schneider Family Book Award. She also serves as an administrator of the Ezra Jack Keats Award.
Maurice Carlos Ruffin is the author of The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You, which will be published by One World Random House in August 2021. His first book, We Cast a Shadow, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the PEN America Open Book Prize. It was longlisted for the 2021 DUBLIN Literary Award, the Center for Fiction Prize and the Aspen Words Literary Prize. The novel was also a New York Times Editor’s Choice. Ruffin is the winner of several literary prizes, including the Iowa Review Award in fiction and the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition Award for Novel-in-Progress. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the LA Times, the Oxford American, Garden & Gun, Kenyon Review, and Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America. A New Orleans native, Ruffin is a professor of Creative Writing at Louisiana State University, and the 2020-2021 John and Renee Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi.
Gordy Sauer is a native Texan and transplant Missourian. He holds an MFA from Columbia University and an MA from Clemson University. His writing has appeared in Narrative Magazine and Boulevard, among other places, and he received a 2013 artist’s grant for residency at the Vermont Studio Center. A lifelong educator, he has taught snowboarding, fly fishing, middle school math and science, and now works as a speechwriter at Mizzou. This is his first novel.
Carrie is the author of the new acclaimed tween novel HORSE GIRL (Penguin Random House) as well as the bestselling Audible adventure series THE FLYING FLAMINGO SISTERS, which was hailed by the New York Times as a Best Audiobook for Road Trips with Kids.
An alum of The Groundlings comedy theater, she’s served as a staff writer for several Nickelodeon comedy variety specials and has appeared on Inside Amy Schumer, the Today show and the Comedy Central Stage. You can hear her voice in several audiobooks, animated series and commercials - where she’s played everything from an evil robot to a sassy pickle.
As a journalist and essayist, she’s contributed to The New York Times, The Atlantic, Architectural Digest, Cosmopolitan, The New York Post, McSweeney’s, and the book Mortified: Love is a Battlefield. Her comedic essay, Outsourcing Love - about hiring a virtual assistant to manage her love life - was optioned for a feature film. Carrie grew up writing plays and riding horses with her sister, actress Lindsay Seim, in the windswept plains of Nebraska.
Seetha Srinivasan is director emerita of the University Press of Mississippi. She joined the press in 1980 as its first acquiring editor and advanced to become director in 1998, from which position she retired in 2008. Srinivasan played a leading role in establishing the excellence of UPM’s editorial program with its national reputation for books for varied audiences.
Throughout her publishing career, Srinivasan also served the Association of American University Presses in a range of leadership positions and was its president in 2003-2004. In 2002 she received the association’s Constituency Award for her “outstanding service to the university press community.” On the occasion of her retirement, the Mississippi Legislature passed a concurrent resolution commending her career and her contributions to the state.
Millsaps College awarded Srinivasan an honorary doctorate in humane letters in 2013. That same year she was recognized by the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi as one of the state’s ten Women of Vision.
Deanne Love Stephens is professor of history at the University of Southern Mississippi. She is author of Plague Among the Magnolias: The 1878 Yellow Fever Epidemic in Mississippi.
Katherine St. John is a native of Mississippi and a graduate of the University of Southern California who spent over a decade in the film industry as an actress, screenwriter, and director before turning to penning novels. When she’s not writing, she can be found hiking or on the beach with a good book. Katherine’s novels are The Lion’s Den and The Siren.
Nic Stone was born and raised in a suburb of Atlanta, GA, and the only thing she loves more than an adventure is a good story about one. After graduating from Spelman College, she worked extensively in teen mentoring and lived in Israel for a few years before returning to the US to write full-time. Growing up with a wide range of cultures, religions, and backgrounds, Stone strives to bring these diverse voices and stories to her work.
A forward-thinking arts professional and Jackson native, Sarah Story became executive director of Mississippi Arts Commission in November 2020. She leads the state agency in its mission to be a catalyst for the arts and creativity in Mississippi.
Story believes the arts are essential because they bring people from diverse lifestyles and backgrounds into conversations about creative expression, allowing contemplation, participation, and discussion. Having spent much of her career in museum administration, she previously served as the executive director of the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum in Austin, Texas.
Prior to her stint at the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden and Museum, Story served as deputy director of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art from 2015-2018, and as project coordinator from 2012-2014. Before the Ogden Museum, she worked as curator of education at the University of Mississippi Museum and Historic Houses in Oxford, MS.
She received a BFA in painting from the University of Mississippi and a Master’s in Arts Administration from the University of New Orleans.
Danielle Bishop Stoulig grew up just outside of Hattiesburg, MS, and received two degrees from Southern Miss. She is a former Assistant Curator at the de Grummond Collection and considers herself very fortunate to have been a member of the staff there for eighteen years. She is currently an Assistant Librarian and Head of Archival Processing at LSU Libraries Special Collections and resides in Gonzales, LA with her husband and fur children.
The biographer Annalyn Swan and her husband and co-author, Mark Stevens, have spent decades in the art and publishing worlds of New York, Mark as a veteran art critic-for Newsweek, The New Republic and New York magazine—and Annalyn as the former arts editor of Newsweek and a former music critic.
Their first book, de Kooning: An American Master, won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 2005, as well as the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times book award for biography. The New York Times named it one of the 10 best books of 2005. Their second biography, Francis Bacon: Revelations, was published in the U.K. in January of 2021 and in the U.S. in March, 2021. The Observer called it “a magnificent triumph” and The Times “the definitive life of Bacon.”
Swan is a former trustee of Princeton University and a long-time board member of the Works and Process series at the Guggenheim Museum. She taught biographical writing at Princeton University in 2013, and currently teaches in the Biography and Memoir M.A. program at the Graduate Center of the City of New York, as well as at the Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English.
Don Tate is an award-winning author, and the illustrator of numerous critically acclaimed books for children. He is also one of the founding hosts of the blog The Brown Bookshelf - a blog designed to push awareness of the myriad of African American voices writing for young readers, with book reviews, author and illustrator interviews—and a one-time member of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature. Don’s books include Carter Reads The Newspaper (Peachtree Publishing, 2019), No Small Potatoes: Junius G. Groves and his Kingdom in Kansas (Knopf, 2018), Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions (Charlesbridge, 2016), The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch (Eerdmans, 2015) and many others. He is also the author of Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton (Peachtree,2015); It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started To Draw (Lee & Low Books, 2102), both books are Ezra Jack Keats award winners, and recently, Strong As Sandow: How Eugen Sandow Became The Strongest Man on Earth (Charlesbridge, 2017), Par-Tay! Dance of the Veggies (and their friends), written by Eloise Greenfield (Alazar, 2018), and Stalebread Charlie and the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band, written by Michael Mahin (Clarion, 2018). Don’s latest titles include William Still and his Freedom Stories: Father of the Underground Railroad (Peachtree Publishing Company, Nov. 2020), and Swish! The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters, written by Suzanne Slade (Little Brown, Nov. 2020). He lives in Austin, Texas, with his family.
Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi, as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She can also still rap if needed. Angie is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Myers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her debut novel, The Hate U Give, started as a senior project in college. It was later acquired by the Balzer+Bray imprint of HarperCollins Publishers in a 13-publisher auction and debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, winning the ALA’s William C. Morris Debut Award and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award (USA), the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize (UK), and the Deutscher Jugendliterapreis (Germany). The Hate U Give was adapted into a critically acclaimed film from Fox 2000, starring Amandla Stenberg and directed by George Tillman, Jr.
Angie’s second novel, On The Come Up, is a #1 New York Times bestseller as well, and a film is in development with Paramount Pictures with Angie acting as a producer. In 2020, Angie released Find Your Voice: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Truth as a tool to help aspiring writers tell their stories. In 2021, Angie returned to the world of Garden Heights with Concrete Rose, a prequel to The Hate U Give focused on seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter that debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
Sami Thomason-Fyke (she/her) is a Youth Services Specialist at the Lafayette County and Oxford Public Library. She was formerly a bookseller, events coordinator, and social media coordinator at Square Books in Oxford, MS. You can keep up with her reading recommendations at samisaysread.com. @SamiSaysRead
Eric L. Tribunella is the author of Melancholia and Maturation: The Use of Trauma in American Children’s Literature, the co-author of Reading Children’s Literature: A Critical Introduction, and the editor of Edward Prime-Stevenson’s Left to Themselves. He is a Professor of English at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he teaches children’s and young adult literature.
Heather Truett is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Memphis and serves as the Development Director for The Pinch literary journal. She is #actuallyautistic and passionate about bringing more neurodivergent voices to the publishing table. Heather was born in Kentucky, sharing a hometown with Loretta Lynn, and grew up in South Carolina. She moved from there to Alabama and now resides in Mississippi with her husband, teenage sons, and three cats. She works as a copywriter and as a writing consultant for University students. Kiss and Repeat is her debut novel.
Vincent Venturini is a native of Jackson, having grown up in the southern section of the city. He attended school at St. Therese elementary School and St. Joseph High School. He earned degrees at Mississippi State University (BA) the University of Southern Mississippi (MSW) and the University of Alabama (Ph.D.) Dr. Venturini is the retired Chair of Social Work and Associate Provost at Mississippi Valley State University. He remains busy in his retirement working on local histories of the Jackson area.
A Chicago-born writer based in Pittsburgh, PA, Marisel Vera is the author of The Taste of Sugar and If I Bring You Roses. Through her work, Vera explores the particular burdens that Puerto Ricans carry as colonial subjects of the most powerful country in the world.
Dawnie Walton is a writer, editor, and author of the novel The Final Revival of Opal & Nev. She earned her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (2018) and holds a journalism degree from Florida A&M University (1997). Formerly an editor at Essence and Entertainment Weekly, she has received fellowships in fiction writing from MacDowell and the Tin House Summer Workshop. Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, she lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband.
Lawrence Wells, author of In Faulkner’s Shadow, is the director of Yoknapatawpha Press in Oxford, Mississippi, which he established with his late wife Dean Faulkner Wells. Wells cofounded the quarterly literary journal The Faulkner Newsletter and Yoknapatawpha Review. Author of two historical novels, Rommel and the Rebel and Let the Band Play Dixie, Wells was awarded the 2014 Faulkner-Wisdom gold medal for narrative non-fiction at the Words and Music Festival in New Orleans. He scripted the Emmy-winning 1994 PBS regional documentary Return to the River narrated by James Earl Jones.
With almost two million books in print in fifteen different languages, Karen White is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 28 novels, including the popular Charleston-set Tradd Street mystery series, The Last Night in London, Dreams of Falling, The Night the Lights Went Out, and Flight Patterns. She is the coauthor of All the Ways We Said Goodbye, The Glass Ocean and The Forgotten Room with New York Times bestselling authors Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig. She grew up in London but now lives with her husband and two spoiled Havanese dogs near Atlanta, Georgia and on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Besides writing, Karen spends her time reading, playing piano, and avoiding cooking.
Rebecca Lee Wiggs is a member of Butler Snow’s litigation department and is an experienced trial attorney who now focuses her practice on pharmaceutical product liability litigation. She tried over 40 cases to jury verdicts in state and federal courts in Mississippi. She served on teams defending manufacturers of prescription and OTC products. As a result of her work deposing sensitive witnesses, she is a frequent trainer for deposition practice and jury decision-making.
Mississippi Business Journal selected her as one of its 2015 50 Leading Business Women. She also received the Mississippi Women Lawyers Association 2016 Women Lawyer of the Year Award and the Mississippi Bar’s 2012 Lawyer Citizenship Award. She is a member of PORTICO Legacy Lawyers’ Class of 2016 and Leadership Mississippi’s Class of 1995. She is a Fellow of the Mississippi Bar Foundation and a Life Fellow of the American Bar Association.
Rebecca currently serves on the Board of Visitors of Wake Forest University Divinity School, and previously served in leadership roles with the Mississippi Economic Council, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and the Mississippi Bar.
She obtained her J.D. from University of Virginia School of Law and undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University.
Curtis Wilkie covered civil rights activity in Mississippi in the 1960s and afterward served as a national and international correspondent for a quarter century at the Boston Globe. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi.
Jerid P. Woods, also known as Akili Nzuri, is a writer, educator, PhD Candidate, and literary influencer. He was born and raised in Natchez, MS and survives on an unwavering passion to ignite a love for reading in the youth. He exists as a living testimony to the power of shared stories and knowing one’s self. He is the owner and creator of Ablackmanreading.com and the Instagram blog: @ablackmanreading. He is also a part of the Instagram show: @booksarepopculture where he and his cohost discuss books in a new revolutionary way that centers reading as part of popular culture.