Storytelling event to feature local, regional authors
Gilmer Arts proudly presents its fourth annual Meet the Authors event, “Storytelling in Ellijay,” at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 21, at the George Link Jr. Gilmer Arts Playhouse.
The keynote speaker for the event, which will spotlight both local and regional authors, is Georgia Hall of Fame writer Terry Kay. Other authors scheduled to appear include Michael K. Brown, Kathi Harper Hill, Preston Lawhorne and Rona Simmons.
Sponsored by the Georgia Writers Association, the Georgia Council for the Arts, the Ellijay Coffeehouse and Walls of Books, the afternoon of events is free and open to the public. Books will be available for purchase and signing following the featured authors’ presentations.
A Hall of Fame speaker
Kay, whose published works include The King Who Made Paper Flowers, Song of the Vagabond Bird, and The Greats of Cuttercane, was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame in 2006 and is a 2009 recipient of the Governor’s Award in the Humanities.
He’s been named Georgia Author of the Year four times, while also receiving both the Townsend Prize (considered the state’s top literary award) and the prestigious Appalachian Heritage Writer’s Award.
Kay’s signature book, To Dance With the White Dog, was made into a 1993 Hallmark movie starring Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. Over 2 million copies of the book were sold in Japan, resulting in the production of a Japanese film and stage version.
A native of Hart County, Kay began his career as an errand boy for the Decatur-DeKalb News. He later worked as a sports writer and film/theater critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a public relations executive and a corporate officer.
Kay’s 17 novels and two children’s books — The Seventh Mirror and To Whom the Angel Spoke — have been published in more than 20 foreign languages. He currently resides in Athens.
Author panel scheduled
A panel discussion featuring Brown, Hill, Lawhorne and Simmons will begin at 2:30 p.m.
Michael K. Brown is a past president of the Atlanta Writers Club and the author of three books. Raised in Birmingham, Ala., he graduated from the University of Alabama and spent most of his career in management positions for major companies before leaving the corporate world to open a flooring business and write.
Brown received the Georgia Author of the Year Award for his novel, Somewhere a River. His latest, Promise of the Hills, is set in a small town in north Georgia that sounds a lot like Ellijay. He currently lives in Loganville.
Kathi Harper Hill is a seventh-generation Ellijay native with a mix of Cherokee and Scotch/Irish roots. A member of the First Families of Gilmer County and the Gilmer Arts Authors Guild, she writes humorously about growing up and living in north Georgia. Hill has authored four novels, as well as books for children and young adults.
One of those, The Crow and the Wind, was first runner-up for the 2011 Georgia Author of the Year Award for Children’s Books. Her most recent work, Bensy and Me, was nominated for the 2017 Georgia Author of the Year Award for Literary Fiction.
Ellijay author and humorist Preston Lawhorne was raised in Lynchburg, Va. He graduated from Lynchburg College with a bachelor’s degree in history and education. Recently retired, Lawhorne had a 44-year career in the technology and network security industry that allowed him to travel the world.
Lawhorne utilized his newfound spare time to write Life is a Puzzle With a Few Missing Pieces, his first collection of stories about growing up in the South. The true tales Lawhorne recounts often involve his four brothers and assorted family members, as well as colleagues and others who’ve made a lasting impression on him.
Rona Simmons is a former Huffington Post blogger and author of The Martyr’s Brother, Postcards from Wonderland and Meryl’s Commitment, among others. In 2017, she co-authored and published a nonfiction book, Images from World War II, which celebrates the art of WWII veteran and artist Jack Smith.
Simmons was a finalist for the 2017 Atlanta Writers Club Terry Kay Prize for Fiction and was twice nominated for Georgia Author of the Year for Literary Fiction and Mystery/Suspense. When not writing or talking about writing, Simmons “slow blogs” about women in the creative arts at her online home, “From Acworth to Zebulon.”
KSU Tellers to be featured
To launch a new monthly event also called Storytelling in Ellijay, Gilmer Arts welcomes the KSU Tellers from Kennesaw State University at 4 p.m.
An undergraduate storytelling troupe sponsored by the college’s Department of Theatre and Performance Studies, the KSU Tellers’ diverse repertoire includes original personal narratives, devised theater, traditional folktales and classic fairytales.
Members engage in professional development opportunities by traveling to events to hone their craft and network with established artists and scholars.
The monthly schedule of Storytelling in Ellijay events will continue at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, and will follow the third Tuesday of each month at the playhouse.