Advanced Search | Search A!:
Volume 26, Number 7 — July 2019

Writers' Day held at the Virginia Highlands Festival

Christopher Scotton
Christopher Scotton

July 01, 2015

This year's Writers' Day of the Virginia Highlands Festival allows participants to learn about a wide genre of literary genres and issues related to publishing. The event is Friday, July 31 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Keyser-Aday Theatre at Virginia Highlands Community College in Abingdon, Virginia.

Headlining the day is the best-selling novelist Christopher Scotton, a native of northern Virginia, whose acclaimed new Appalachian novel, "The Secret Wisdom of the Earth," earned him a first-run print order of 100,000 copies for that first novel. The book is a coming-of-age story as well as a murder mystery set in eastern Kentucky coalfields in the 1980s and is being compared to "To Kill a Mockingbird."

For sci-fi and fantasy buffs, Andy Duncan has won a Nebula Award and three World Fantasy Awards, the most recent in 2014 for his novella "Wakulla Springs," co-written with Ellen Klages. He writes weird fiction inspired by history, folklore and oral storytelling, especially of the South and of Appalachia in all their diversity.

Jesse Graves, Tennessee native and an associate professor at East Tennessee State University, conducts poetry workshops. He has published two acclaimed volumes of poetry, "Tennessee Landscape with Blighted Pine," which won the Weatherford Prize from the Appalachian Studies Association, and Basin Ghosts," which received the James Still Award for writing about the American South from the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

Barter Theatre veteran John Hardy conducts workshops on playwriting. He has been involved with theatre for more than 30 years-as an actor, director, playwright, teacher and dramaturge. Over the course of his career he has directed more than 100 productions at theaters around the country, and as a playwright has had professional productions of 15 plays.

Local writers Linda Hoagland and Joe Tennis lead a workshop on how to get published. Hoagland has won acclaim for her 10 mystery novels, which include the recent "Snooping Can Be Dangerous" and "The Best Darn Secret." She is also the author of six works of nonfiction, a collection of short writings, along with a volume of poems. She is the president of Appalachian Authors Guild which has a membership of more than 60 members and meets in Abingdon every month.

Tennis is the author of the recently released "Virginia Rail Trails: Crossing the Commonwealth," a statewide history and guide to trails that were all once railroads in Virginia. Tennis is an award-winning features writer and columnist for the Bristol Herald Courier. Tennis has released seven other regional history books, including "Haunts of Virginia's Blue Ridge Highlands" and "Washington County, Virginia: Then & Now."

There are three sets of workshops at 10 a.m., 1:15 p.m., and 3 p.m. The cost of the event is $30, $20 for students. Pre-registration is encouraged and can be done online on the festival's website, For further information, call the festival office at 276-623-5267.

As a bonus, participants in Writers' Day get in free for "An Evening of Words and Music" at 7 p.m. at Heartwood in which the featured writers will read from their work, interspersed with music by Claiborne Woodall and Wyatt Rice.

Topics: Literature