A! Magazine for the Arts

NYT Best Selling author Sharyn McCrumb headlines Writers' Day

June 29, 2021

Writers’ Day at the Virginia Highlands Festival provides opportunities to learn from regionally and nationally renowned authors about the craft of writing. It’s not only for serious writers; avid readers and those curious about the writing process should also find it rewarding. The event is Friday, July 30, beginning with registration from 8-9 a.m. at the Executive Auditorium at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon.

This year’s theme is “Telling Our Story: Using memories to write poetry, fiction, and drama.” The day’s events begin at 9 a.m. with writers presenting their perspectives on tapping into personal memories, regional folklore and family legends in writing about Appalachian culture.

Sharyn McCrumb is the author of Appalachian “Ballad” novels, including the New York Times best sellers “The Ballad of Tom Dooley,” “The Ballad of Frankie Silver” and “Ghost Riders,” which won the Wilma Dykeman Award for Literature from the East Tennessee Historical Society.

“My books are like Appalachian quilts,” McCrumb says. “I take brightly colored scraps of legends, ballads, fragments of rural life and local tragedy, and I piece them together into a complex whole that tells not only a story, but also a deeper truth about the culture of the mountain South.”

Also featured are Jim Minick, Rita Quillen, Bekah Harris, and Eugene Wolf.

Minick is the author of five books, the most recent, his novel “Fire Is Your Water.” “The Blueberry Years,” his memoir, won the Best Nonfiction Book of the Year from Southern Independent Booksellers Association.

Quillen has become one of western Virginia’s leading writers over the last two decades. Her poetry collections include “October Dusk” and “Counting The Sums,” as well as the recent “The Mad Farmer’s Wife,” which was a finalist for the Weatherford Award. She was a semi-finalist for the 2012-14 Poet Laureate of Virginia.

Harris’s books highlight the beauty of her home in the Appalachian Mountains. The legends, myths and folklore of the area inspire the plots and settings in her young adult fiction.

Barter Theatre favorite Wolf discusses crafting family memories into engaging stories. He explores how to know which details to tell, and which ones are better left to memory.

The end of the day features a publishing panel, with local authors discussing the different pathways to publishing today.

The cost for Writers’ Day is $30, students attend free. Registration is online at VaHighlandsFestival.org or the day of the event. Detailed descriptions of all the workshops as well as full biographies of the writers can be found on the festival’s website www.VaHighlandsFestival.org/writers-day.