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Southern Voices Festival 2014

A Celebration of Writing, Music and Art

An Evening With

Ann Patchett

Friday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m.
The Library Theatre

Reception follows Southern Voices warmly welcomes best-selling novelist Ann Patchett to our festival. After the presentation, we invite you to join Ms. Patchett on the Library Plaza for a book signing and reception. Books will be available for purchase.

Ann Patchett is a celebrated author, devoted reader and champion of literary culture. She has written nine books including The Patron Saint of Liars, State of Wonder and the Orange Prize and PEN/Faulkner Award Winner, Bel Canto.

In 2011, when the last of her hometown of Nashville’s independent bookstores closed, Ms. Patchett declared, “I have no interest in living in a city without a bookstore.” In November of that year, she opened Parnassus Books, a new refuge for the written word in the old “Athens of the South.”

TIME magazine named Ann Patchett one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012 for her efforts on behalf of the literary community.

Along with being a prized novelist, Ms. Patchett is a frequent contributor to many publications, including The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly and The Wall Street Journal, and has served on the board of the Nashville Public Library Foundation. She also writes nonfiction. The true story of her friendship with author and childhood cancer survivor Lucy Grealy, Truth & Beauty, won the Heartland Prize for Nonfiction in 2004. Additionally, the world-renowned Lyric Opera Company of Chicago has commissioned a production based on her novel, Bel Canto, to premiere in 2014.

Most recently, Ms. Patchett released a portrait of her life, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Examining her deepest commitments such as writing, friends, family, dogs, books and her husband, the book gives us a glimpse into the very real world of the author. From stories of a failed marriage to a successful bookstore, Ann Patchett shares the experiences that shaped her. The Hoover Public Library is honored to welcome back Southern Voices alumna Ann Patchett. We look forward to hearing more about the life and work of this literary icon.


Authors Conference

Saturday, Feb. 22 - Registration: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. - The Library Theatre & The Library Plaza- Book sales and signings will follow the afternoon session. - Lunch on your own

Claire Cook

Claire Cook penned her first novel in her minivan at age 45. At 50, she walked the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of the film adaptation of her second novel, Must Love Dogs, starring Diane Lane and John Cusack. She is now the best-selling and critically acclaimed author of ten novels, including Wallflower in Bloom and Time Flies. She is a frequent speaker at literary festivals and her books have been translated into 14 languages. Ms. Cook has been heralded as one of the “sassiest and funniest creators of women’s fiction.” She currently divides her time between Atlanta and Boston, and is hard at work turning Must Love Dogs into a five-book series.


Therese Anne Fowler

Therese Anne Fowler grew up in the Midwest, but migrated to North Carolina in 1995 to pursue a B.A. in sociology and cultural anthropology from North Carolina State University. She followed that with an MFA in creative writing, a position teaching creative writing to undergraduates and the publication of four novels. Her most recent book, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, is a poignant tale of one of Alabama’s most famous women. Named to The New York Times best-sellers list and recommended by O Magazine, Publisher’s Weekly and People, Z captures both the animated and insecure side of Zelda Fitzgerald, as well as the grandeur and franticness of the Jazz Age.


Susan Gregg Gilmore

Susan Gregg Gilmore’s 2008 debut novel Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen was called a “stand-out coming of age novel” by NPR’s Alan Cheuse and was a Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) 2009 Book Award Nominee. Born in Nashville, Ms. Gilmore is a longtime lover of the written word. She began her writing career as a reporter for her college paper at the University of Virginia and has worked for several papers, including the Los Angeles Times and The Christian Science Monitor. Since the success of her first novel, she has penned two additional books, including The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove and The Funeral Dress.


Bill Roorbach

Bill Roorbach is the author of eight books of fiction and nonfiction, including the Flannery O’Connor Prize and O. Henry Prize winner Big Bend, Into Woods and Temple Stream. His latest novel, Life Among Giants, begins in 1970 when a high school football star’s parents are murdered. What ensues is a plot-twisting narrative mixed with rich characterization. Mr. Roorbach’s short fiction has appeared in Harper’s, The Atlantic and Playboy. A former cake judge on The Food Network and a former professor at Columbia University, Ohio State, Holy Cross and Colby College, Bill now writes full time from his home in Maine.


Jeffrey Small

Jeffrey Small is the author of two novels. His debut, the best-selling thriller Breath of God, was hailed as “visionary fiction” by Library Journal and won the 2012 Nautilus Book Award Gold Medal for fiction. His second novel, The Jericho Deception, received similar acclaim and won the Gold Medal for Best Thriller/Suspense by the IPPY Book Awards. In addition to his work as a novelist, Mr. Small is a popular blogger on the Huffington Post, an acclaimed speaker on religion and spirituality and holds degrees from Yale, Harvard and Oxford Universities. He currently lives in Atlanta with his wife and daughter and enjoys hiking, yoga and travel to exotic locales.


John Searles

John Searles is an editor-at-large for Cosmopolitan, a literary commentator for the Today Show and a novelist. His most recent novel, Help for the Haunted, is the haunting tale of an unusual family, an unspeakable tragedy and a daughter’s discovery of a dark and unexpected mystery. Born and raised in Monroe, Connecticut, this son of a truck driver and stay-at-home mom is known for his early championing of books such as The Help, Water for Elephants and The Lovely Bones. His essays have appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post. TIME magazine has named Mr. Searles, who now lives in New York, as a “Person to Watch.”


Steve Yarbrough

Steve Yarbrough has been called “wickedly observant, funny, cynical and evocative” by John Grisham. He is the author of nine books including Safe from the Neighbors, The End of California and Prisoners of War, which was a finalist for the 2005 PEN/Faulkner Award. His latest novel, The Realm of Last Chances, makes a departure from his usual Deep South setting, creating a story of a reinvented marriage in a small Northeastern town.

The son of Mississippi Delta farmers, Steve is currently a professor in the Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing at Emerson in Boston. He currently lives in Stoneham, Massachusetts.


Concert Event

Liz Story

“Story has an extraordinary gift.” ~ People Magazine

One of the foremost pioneers of contemporary solo piano, Liz Story’s musical style defies traditional description and has inspired countless artists since the release of her debut album, Solid Colors, on the Windham Hill label in 1983. With a dozen albums now to her credit, Story’s works cross many musical genres, including classical piano, jazz, folk, pop and impressionistic music, painting a spectacular musical panorama. Lisa Downing, whose most recent album is currently atop the New Age charts, will open for this renowned and innovative artist.

Tickets $25

Wednesday, February 19 at 8 pm
Thursday, February 20 at 8 pm

The Art of

Melanie Morris

“I have no choice but to paint – it is like breathing for me,” Melanie Morris says. Melanie has painted in oil and watercolor, but prefers the versatility of acrylic. “After a trip to Big Sur, California, I became frustrated when I couldn’t capture the feel of the area with a brush. It was then that I switched to a palette knife and never looked back. I love the interesting textures and looseness that I achieve with a knife.”

Melanie applies layers of exquisite color with a palette knife to create her dreamlike paintings. Her colorful landscapes have been said to “evoke a range of emotion from the viewer, from quiet contemplation to bubbling-over joy.” She was recently named an Emerging Artist by Art Galleries & Artists of the South magazine.

Melanie’s contemporary landscapes and florals are in several corporate collections including Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine, The Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau, Energen Corporation, Peace College and Southern States Bank.

Melanie lives in Birmingham, Alabama. Her work has been featured in Cottage Journal magazine and Birmingham Home & Garden magazine. Melanie shows her work at Bennett Galleries in Nashville, Tennessee, at her studio in Homewood, Alabama and online at or