Sunday, August 25, 2013

Murder She Wrote

If you're a fan of murder mysteries or true crime or both, in the authors' tent on Oct. 5, you'll likely find a book that interests you.

Some authors will have books involving actual murders. Pamela Chase Hain (who will also be singing at the festival with Ladies of the Lake) will have Murder in the State Capitol: The Biography of Lt. Col. Robert Augustus Alson (1832-1879). Read more about Hain and her book in this article from Laker Weekly.


a collection of 25 stories of murders committed in Mount Airy from 1892-1976.
UPDATE: Donna G. Smith will be unable to make it to this year's festival.

Was a murder actually committed in the "Murder Hole" in Catawba, VA? You can read some of the legends in a Roanoke Times article here. Or you can buy the book from author Marian McConnell, who owns the property on which the infamous cave is located. The Roanoke Star published this article about the book in March.  

As for fiction, Sally Roseveare (mentioned in an earlier post) writes Smith Mountain Lake murder mysteries, and she'll have both her novels with her on October 5—Secrets at Spawning Run and Secrets at Sweetwater Cove. She's currently working on her third book in the series. Maybe she'll have that one in 2014.


Not only can you buy books at the festival, but you can also talk to the authors about why they wrote their books.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Memoirs 2013

The authors' tent features a lot of books about local and regional history. Sometimes this history is up-close and personal—the authors have either lived it or folks they know lived it. If you're looking for this kind of personal perspective on history, you're in luck—a lot of our authors have published memoirs of their lives in the Blue Ridge region.

Some authors are returning from last year: Tom Howell will again have his mother's memoir, Life With Charlie, which chronicles Lillian Hannabass Howell's memories of growing up in Moneta before the lake was built. Charles Lytton will have his three books about growing up on River Ridge: New River: bonnets, apple butter, and moonshine,  The Cool Side of the Pillow, and The View From the White Rock. Oma Boyd will not only have Round This Mountain, but also a new collection of mountain stories, Blue Ridge Shadows. Avis Turner will have In the Land Where Fairies Cried Tears of Stone, her grandmother's memories of growing up in the Patrick County/Henry County area.

Peggy Shifflett will return for the third year with her four memoirs of growing up in Appalachia: The Red Flannel Rag, Mom's Family Pie, The Living Room Bed, and On the Way to Tow Town. And we'll have some moonshine memories too—Morris Stephenson will have his popular A Night of Makin' Likker book and he'll be accompanied by Jack Allen Powell, who'll have some of his memoirs of being an agent. At his table, Morris will also have a few other buddies who'll be glad to tell you their moonshine stories.

We'll also have some authors making their first visit to Mountain Spirits. Retired physicist Aaron McAlexander will have his two memoirs, The Last One Leaving Mayberry and So Much to Learn. (There really used to be a Mayberry in SW Virginia. Aaron spent time there with his grandparents when he was a child. He attended the Meadows of Dan School where there was so much to learn.)

Otis L. Lee, Jr., a retired attorney from the Charlottesville area, will have his print copies of his brand new e-book memoir, From South Boston to Cambridge: The Making of One Philadelphia Lawyer. Lee, who can trace his family back to Patrick Moon of Halifax County in 1795, dedicates his book "to all the forgotten and unsung members of the Lee, Penick, Williams, and Moon family." In his memoir, Lee traces his family history, tells of his childhood in Charlottesville in the 1960s, and tells many of his personal accomplishments.

Finally, Jean Schaeffer will have copies of This Pleasant Land, written by her late father, Max S. Thomas. While this book is about area history, it's also memoir of a sort.

The book, a 250-year history of the Franklin, Floyd, and Patrick County border areas is based on stories that Thomas heard from his elders while he was growing up. As Max Thomas wrote: 

“I am a fifth-generation descendant of the first settlers in this part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I have lived all of my life on the same piece of land on a high plateau on the Floyd–Franklin County line in southwestern Virginia. Since I was a boy, I have been told stories about my ancestors and their neighbors, men and women who came to and lived in a pleasant and rugged land during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. No matter who told the stories, they were always the same. It is also my story, for I was born in 1908 and witnessed events through most of the twentieth century, including the building of the Blue Ridge Parkway in the 1930s. . . . So in 1997 at age 89, I began writing this history in longhand.”

If you enjoy regional history and mountain memoirs, you'll enjoy visiting with some of the authors under the big tent.