James Grissom photographed by Michael Lionstar.
Most people who write to celebrities get an autographed 8 x 10. James Grissom got a vocation.
In 1982, as a college student, Grissom sent a letter soliciting advice on a writing career to fellow Louisianan Thomas Lanier “Tennessee” Williams III. The famous playwright responded by phone with an entreaty of his own.
“ ‘Perhaps you can be of some help to me.’ These were the first words Tennessee Williams spoke to me in that initial phone call to ...
Jamie Kornegay photographed by Matt Eich.
Jamie Kornegay has an Oxford education. He studied creative fiction under Barry Hannah at Ole Miss and learned the bookseller’s trade at famous indie retailer Square Books.
To ply it, Kornegay moved 80 miles southwest to Greenwood, a small city on the Mississippi Delta that proved fertile ground for both entrepreneurship and imagination. In 2006, he and his wife, Kelly, founded TurnRow Book Co. on Howard Street, and, today, Simon & Schuster publishes his debut novel, Soil.
“We’ve even more ...
Jill Ciment photographed by Arnold Mesches.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a phosphorescent fungus threatens the health and happiness of identical twin sexagenarian sisters, their Filipino-American Shakespearean actress landlord and the enterprising Russian girl squatting in her Brooklyn townhouse closet.
“Every writer I know wants one compliment,” says Jill Ciment, author of the aforementioned Act of God. “Some of my friends who are writers want you to say, ‘God, that was so intelligent!’ And others want you to say ...
Katherine Heiny photographed by Leila Barbaro
Katherine Heiny has a great story: in 1992, when she wanted to be a writer, her friend told her to submit “How to Give the Wrong Impression” to The New Yorker’s fiction editor, and he accepted it the next day.
Twenty-two years later, Heiny’s long-awaited debut collection nears publication. In a starred review, Kirkus likens the experience of reading Single, Carefree, Mellow to “sitting at a dive bar tossing back deceptively pretty, surprisingly strong drinks with a pal who may ...
M.O. Walsh photographed by Sam Gregory.
M.O. Walsh may live in New Orleans, but his heart is with his hometown. Baton Rouge, Louisiana is the state’s second-largest city, its capital and the setting of his powerful Southern gothic debut, My Sunshine Away.
“You have to understand. When people think of Louisiana, they think exclusively of New Orleans. We are okay with that. New Orleans has the culture, the allure. They are The Big Easy. The Crescent City. The Birthplace of Jazz,” Walsh writes. The ...
Brooke Davis photographed by Ailsa Bowyer.
Soon after her father’s death, a seven-year-old Australian girl in bright red gumboots is abandoned by her mother in the big ladies’ underwear section of a department store. With the aid of two lately acquired octogenarian friends, she’ll set out cross-country to find her.
This quirky matchup makes for a multifaceted meditation on loss and grieving in Brooke Davis’ bighearted debut, Lost & Found. The novel, available stateside today, is already an international bestseller.
“It’s been the biggest surprise,” ...
Jennifer Niven photographed by Louis Kapeleris.
In an arresting author’s note at the end of her teen novel All the Bright Places, Jennifer Niven discloses her status as a survivor of loved one’s suicide.
“Several years ago, a boy I knew and loved killed himself. I was the one who discovered him,” Niven writes. “The experience was not something I wanted to talk about, even with the people closest to me. To this day, many of my family and friends still don’t know much, if ...
Paula Hawkins photographed by Kate Neil.
For years, Paula Hawkins lived on London’s fringe and commuted by train to a journalism job. Twice daily she passed the backs of the houses lining the tracks.
“I loved to be able to see inside,” she says. “Most of the time you’re looking at quite boring things. You’re looking at people’s kitchens and it’s like, There’s a nice kitchen, or whatever. But the thought did occur to me—it was a long time ago—what would you do if ...