Carolina Mountains Lit Fest

Change and Tradition Co-exist in Burnsville This September

The quiet mountain town of Burnsville, NC, will burst with literature, flavor, and imagination on September 7th through September 9th, as the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival celebrates its 12th annual event. The natural beauty of the mountains will provide a perfect backdrop for the many events taking place in venues around town, where dozens of writers will give free readings and talk about their most current books.

This year’s theme is ‘Old Ways New Ways: Change and Tradition.’ The sessions will provide a smorgasbord of diversity, as there are so many aspects of our lives and culture that have changed over the years, guaranteeing there will be something for everyone!

Saturday’s Keynote speaker, James Reston, Jr. will debut his newest book, ‘A Rift in The Earth: Art, Memory and The Fight for a Vietnam War Memorial.’ This book is the latest in his diverse body of work, which includes 17 books, three plays, and numerous articles in leading national magazines, such as Rolling Stone, New Yorker, and Vanity Fair. Mr. Reston was David Frost’s advisor for the historic Watergate interviews in 1977 with Richard Nixon. His book, The Conviction of Richard Nixon, was the inspiration for the movie ‘Frost/Nixon,’ directed by Ron Howard and viewed by millions. The highly acclaimed author’s new book will be released September 9th – an event not to be missed!

Flavorful discussion of Appalachian cuisine and culture will be provided by Ronni Lundy at the Friday night Banquet, which will feature her book, ‘Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes.’ With the book’s prize for 2017 James Beard Award for Best American Cookbook, and Best Book of the Year, this event will be sure to delight anyone interested in good food and Appalachian culture. Lovers of Appalachian music will enjoy a free concert on Thursday night, where tradition will abound as we kick off the Festival and celebrate the NC Arts Council’s 50th Anniversary. Songcatching: An Evening of Sharing Music Old & New with Shelby Stephenson, Bruce Greene & Friends – will feature traditional music of the region, presented with the unique perspective of one who learned the art from local fiddlers, banjo players and singers in the early 1970s.

Free readings will be held in venues around the quaint town square and food lovers will not be disappointed. Bridgette A. Lacy’s ‘Sunday Dinner, a part of the Savor of the South’ series features cuisine in the local tradition. Those with more worldly appetites will love hearing Susi Gott Séguret in a ‘Conversation About Food-Old & New.’ An editor of a dozen cookbooks and contributor to several compilations, Susi spent over 20 years in France, where she earned a diploma in Gastronomy and Taste from the Cordon Bleu and Universite’ de Reims. Hailing from Madison County in North Carolina, hers is truly a story of change and tradition!

Keeping close to the change and tradition themes, Jeremy B. Jones’ award winning book, ‘Bearwallow: A Personal History of a Mountain Homeland,’ and winner of the 2014 Appalachian Book of the Year in nonfiction, takes you on a journey from 19th century Appalachia to Honduras, and back to modern day Appalachia. Marjorie Hudson’s highly acclaimed collection of short stories, ‘Accidental Birds of the Carolinas,’ explores experiences of newcomers, old and new, to the American South. Even the memoirs contrast change with tradition. Mimi Schlesinger Ormond’s memoir recounts her escape from the Nazis in Sudetenland to her relocation in England, where she spent her formative years during the war. Cat Pleska’s ‘Riding on Comets: a Memoir’ provides an insight into working class Appalachia, seen through the eyes of an only child growing up in the 1950s and ‘60s.

Mystery fans will be intrigued by Ann Ross’ Miss Julia mystery series. All 18 of the Miss Julia books have been New York Times Bestsellers! Brock Adam’s new science fiction novel, ‘Ember,’ will provide a surreal vision of a disturbing futuristic environment. Poetry will abound, as Jeanne Julian, John Lane, Anne Maren-Hogan, Ray McManus, Grace C. Ocasio, Adrian Rice, and Shelby Stephenson take the stage for free readings.

As if that is not enough, authors Jaye Robin Brown, Lucy Corin, and Mark Essig will touch on subjects ranging from Natural History to young adult novels and beyond! Early September is a wonderful time to be in the North Carolina Mountains, so plan a visit to Burnsville and escape into the world of books for a few days. The books you will hear about will be available to purchase and there will be time allocated for book signings by the authors.

Best of all, most of the events will be free! The Banquet, Saturday night Keynote, 4 three-hour writing workshops, and this year’s new Altered Bookmaking Workshop will be ticketed. Pre-registration is required and will be available July 1st.

Please visit our website, cmlitfest.org, for more details.


Maureen Thornton is a freelance writer and literary festival volunteer who currently splits her time between Little Switzerland, North Carolina and Melbourne, Florida. She established a series for the Mitchell News Journal on “People in the Arts and Sciences” and is a contributing writer. Ms. Thornton is a retired Business Development leader, Molecular Biologist, and former Pan Am flight attendant.
Mothornton17@gmail.com

Written by Maureen Thornton