Submitted by Ben Jennings
ABINGDON, Virginia – The Friends of the Washington County Public Library in Abingdon will feature a number of regional writers during their annual “Sunday with Friends” series. The free entertainment of course takes place on Sundays at 3 p.m. from January to June in the conference room of the Abingdon Library.
Here’s a look at what’s on offer in this year’s series:
Meet Molly Walling, originally from Bristol, Virginia, who has written two personal stories that explore her family history. His first book, “Death in the Delta,” investigates a long-standing family secret that his father – as a young man in the 1940s in Mississippi – was involved in the death of a man. black, Simon Toombs. In her new book, “For Simon”, Walling finds out that Toombs had a daughter, and she travels to Los Angeles to seek more truth. This multigenerational story is about the struggle for “truth and reconciliation” that Walling believes is necessary for racial understanding and healing.
Meet Kingsport native Robert Gipe known for the whimsical illustrations in his novels, which complement his serious depictions of poverty, violence, drug addiction and hopelessness in the forgotten coal towns of eastern Kentucky.
His latest novel, “Pop”, completes a trilogy of books on the Jewell family. Dawn Jewell was the teenage narrator in “Trampoline”, then a young mother in “Weedeater”. Now in “Pop,” his daughter Nicolette is a teenage girl representing an Appalachian region where young people are launching businesses rooted in local food culture and working to build communities out of the tragedies of the past.
Meet Mark Powell, one of the most accomplished and prolific young writers in the Appalachians. Most of his seven novels are political thrillers, reminiscent of Robert Stone. “Firebird” (2020), set during the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, takes you into the world of arms dealers, political agents, Ivy League criminals and a hedge fund billionaire who aspires to the Presidency. Her new novel, “Lioness” (2022), deals with an act of eco-terrorism and is set in southwest Virginia. Powell was educated at the Citadel, the University of South Carolina, and Yale Divinity School. He directs the Creative Writing Program at Appalachian State University.
Meet Francis Gary Powers, Jr., who partnered with historian Keith Dunnavant to write “Spy Pilot,” a book that attempts to dispel misinformation surrounding the U-2 incident during the Cold War when the His father’s plane was shot down in the Soviet Union, and his father was jailed. Based on many new documents, the book is a son’s journey to understand his father and one of the central incidents of the Cold War.
Powers is the founder of the Cold War Museum and has been a consultant on Steven Spielberg’s recent “Bridge of Spies”, the film about his father’s liberation.
Meet Julie Zickefoose, an acclaimed nature writer, wildlife rehabilitator and wildlife illustrator, who will discuss her latest book, “Saving Jemima: Life and Love with a Hard-Luck Jay”. Jemima was an orphaned young Blue Jay who was brought to Zickefoose. Starving and very ill, Jemima thrives under her care, ultimately taking control of the author’s house and the rest of the summer as she gains strength to be released back into the wild. The book is filled with the wonder, humor, and relentless curiosity that Zickefoose is known for from other books and her commentary on NPR’s “All Things Considered”.
Friends’ annual celebration of poetry features Jeff Mann, who co-edited “LGBTQ: Fiction and Poetry from Appalachia,” which brings together original and previously published fiction and poetry by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people of the Appalachian Mountains. The collection confronts the complex intersections of place, family, sexuality, gender and religion that LGBTQ Appalachians often grapple with. Mann teaches creative writing at Virginia Tech. He will be accompanied in this celebration by local poets from the Appalachian Center for Poets and Writers.
Meet Lisa Alther and her brother, John Shelton Reed, both natives of Kingsport, to learn more about their new works.
Alther’s book, “Swan Song,” takes place on a cruise ship. This is a female doctor in charge of the ship’s clinic. She is recovering from the loss of a longtime companion, who was a much admired writer.
Reed, a retired University of North Carolina sociologist, has written numerous books and articles on Southern culture. In his new book, “On Barbecue,” he writes with conviction about the look, smells and tastes of southern barbecue varieties.
Meet Lee Smith, the beloved Southwest Virginia writer, who will celebrate her two recent works set in Florida.
The new “Blue Marlin” follows adventurer Jenny, 13, to Key West for a patched up family vacation after the discovery of her father’s illicit affair. Jenny grapples with the fragility of family life while competing for the attention of actor Tony Curtis, who is working on a nearby film.
“Silver Alert” describes the adventures of the irascible Herbert Atlas, whose family tries to force him into an assisted living facility. He runs away with a manicure as desperate as him for a new life.
Meet Tanya Carroll Richardson, who will share her thoughts on self-love, the subject of her new book, “Love Notes to My Self: Meditations and Inspirations for Self-Compassion and Self-Care”.
Richardson is an intuitive professional and a regular contributor to MindBodyGreen.com. She is the author of eight books, including “Angel Intuition”, “Forever in My Heart: A Grief Journal”, “Zen Teen” and “Self-Care for Empaths”. Her “A Year of Self-Love” daily calendar is an annual bestseller. Richardson is the wife of Michael Wartella, artist and filmmaker, who grew up in Abingdon. They currently reside in Austin, Texas.
The Friends of the Washington County Public Library is a voluntary, non-profit organization dedicated to helping strengthen the library’s resources and make it a vibrant force in the community.
To learn more about the series, contact Ben Jennings at [email protected]