2022 Festival Presenters
The Pat Conroy Literary Festival’s list of scheduled presenters is subject to change without notice, but every effort will be made to announce changes through the this festival’s website and Facebook feed.
Angelique Medow mentored under Native Cherokee and Oconee leaders and world-renowned cosmologist John Dobson to learn the ways of life and the forest. She’s also spent months alone in the quiet depths of the woods, learning directly from nature. She is the founder of willyougrow.com, an inspirational multimedia company that provides personal growth and joy through education, conversations and adventures in nature. Having received her Bachelor’s degree from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism with a minor in philosophy, she writes books, articles, a weekly blog post and scripts for broadcast publication on topics related to personal growth and the human condition, and she mentors individuals in kind.
Mindy Friddle’s novel Secret Keepers won the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction. The Garden Angel, her first novel, was selected for Barnes and Noble’s Discover Great New Writers program. Mindy’s short fiction has appeared in storySouth, Orca, Sinking City, LitMag, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Southern Humanities Review, and many others. Regal House is publishing Mindy’s third novel, Her Best Self, in 2024. She lives on Edisto Island, South Carolina.
Nathan Harris holds an MFA from the Michener Center at the University of Texas. The Sweetness of Water, his first novel, was a selection of Oprah’s Book Club, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction. Harris was a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree in 2021. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
De’Shawn Charles Winslow is the author of In West Mills, a Center for Fiction First Novel Prize winner, an American Book Award recipient, a Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction winner, and a Los Angeles Times Book Award, Lambda Literary Award, and Publishing Triangle Award finalist. His second novel, Decent People, is forthcoming in January 2023. He was born and raised in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
Bren McClain’s critically acclaimed debut novel, One Good Mama Bone, published by Pat Conroy’s Story River Press, won the 2017 Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction and the 2018 Patricia Winn Award for Southern Literature. It was also named Pulpwood Queen 2017 Book of the Year, a 2017 Great Group Reads by the Women’s National Book Association, a Southeastern Independent Booksellers Association (SIBA) Okra pick, longlisted for SIBA’s Southern Book Prize and a finalist for the 2018 Crook’s Corner Prize. Most recently, the French translation (retitled Mama Red) was selected for the 2021 Prix Maya, an award given for the novel that best honors animals. Bren also is a contributing essayist in Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy. You can find Bren now with butt in chair, working on her next novel, which has already received acclaim, the gold medal for the William Faulkner Novel-in-Progress. Bren hails from upstate South Carolina, Anderson, where her novel is set. She now lives in the state’s Lowcountry.
Chef and culinary historian Sallie Ann Robinson is a sixth-generation native of Daufuskie Island, South Carolina. She attended the Mary Fields School as a student of Pat Conroy’s, and she is featured as the character Ethel in Conroy’s 1972 memoir The Water Is Wide. She is the author of three cookbooks: Sallie Ann Robinson’s Kitchen, Gullah Home Cooking the Daufuskie Way, and Cooking the Gullah Way, Morning, Noon, and Night, and coauthor of Daufuskie Island. Her life and work have been showcased in O: Oprah’s Magazine, National Geographic, Southern Living, Bon Appetit, Garden & Gun, and The South Magazine, among other publications. She has also appeared on the Food Network, the Travel Channel, SC ETV, and Georgia Public Broadcasting. Robinson also operates her own tour company on her native Daufuskie Island.
Judy Goldman is the award-winning author of seven books – three memoirs, two novels, and two collections of poetry. Her new memoir, Child, was named a Katie Couric Media Must-Read Book for 2022. Her recent memoir, Together: A Memoir of a Marriage and a Medical Mishap, was named one of the best books of 2019 by Real Simple magazine and received a starred review from Library Journal. Her work has appeared in USA Today, Washington Post, Charlotte Observer, Real Simple, LitHub, and many literary journals and anthologies. She has won numerous awards, including the Fortner Writer & Community Award for “outstanding generosity to other writers and the larger community,” the Hobson Award for Distinguished Achievement in Arts & Letters, and several awards for her books, including all three annual prizes awarded for a book of poetry by a North Carolinian. Born and raised in Rock Hill, South Carolina, she lives with her husband in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Thrity Umrigar is the best-selling author of the novels Bombay Time, The Space Between Us, If Today Be Sweet, The Weight of Heaven, The World We Found, The Story Hour, Everybody’s Son and The Secrets Between Us. Her new novel, Honor, is a selection of Reece’s Book Club and an Indie Next List Pick for January 2022. Umrigar is also the author of the memoir, First Darling of the Morning and three children’s picture books, When I Carried You in My Belly, Sugar in Milk and Binny’s Diwali. Her books have been translated into several languages and published in over fifteen countries. She is a Distinguished University Professor of English at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
George Dawes Green, founder of The Moth, is an internationally celebrated author. His first novel, The Caveman’s Valentine, won the Edgar Award and became a motion picture starring Samuel L. Jackson. The Juror was an international bestseller in more than twenty languages and was the basis for the movie starring Demi Moore and Alec Baldwin. Ravens was chosen as one of the best books of 2009 by the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Daily Mail of London, and many other publications. His most recent novel is The Kingdoms of Savannah. Green grew up in Georgia and now lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Valerie Sayers is the author of a collection of stories, The Age of Infidelity, and six novels, including her most recent, The Powers. Who Do You Love and Brain Fever were both named New York Times “Notable Books of the Year, and a film, “Due East,” was based on her novels Due East and How I Got Him Back. Sayers’s stories, essays, and reviews have appeared widely, in such publications as the New York Times, Washington Post, Commonweal, Zoetrope, and Ploughshares, and have been cited in Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays. Her literary prizes include a National Endowment for the Arts literature fellowship and two Pushcart Prizes for fiction. She is honored to be a member of the South Carolina Academy of Writers.
Author of the Christmas-themed children’s book Stars of Wonder, Rebecca Dwight Bruff is the author of the award-winning historical novel Trouble the Water, and the non-fiction book Loving the World with God. Bruff earned her Bachelors degree in education at Texas A&M University and Master and Doctorate degrees in theology, both from Southern Methodist University. In 2017, she was a scholarship recipient for the prestigious Key West Literary Seminar. She volunteers at the Pat Conroy Literary Center in Beaufort, South Carolina.
Children’s author Susan McElroy Montanari spent the majority of her life on the beach and tidal creeks surrounding Savannah, Georgia. She was a finalist in two categories for the 2010 Tassy Walden Award for New Voices in Children’s Literature: one for her picture book, My Dog’s a Chicken, and the other for her middle grade novel, The Day Sasquatch Ate My Journal. Susan’s publishing credits include: from Schwartz & Wade at Penguin Random House—My Dog’s a Chicken, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf (Northern Lights Humor Award and South Carolina Picture Book of the Year nominee); Who’s the Grossest of Them All? illustrated by Jake Parker; Hip-Hop Lollipop , illustrated by two-time Caldecott Honor recipient Brian Pinkney (School Library Journal starred review), and Goldilocks for Dinner? illustrated by Jake Parker ( a Junior Library Guild Selection and International Literacy Association Children’s Choice 2020 Reading List recommendation); and, from Source Books—The Halloween Tree , illustrated by Theresa Martinez. Susan now lives in Beaufort, SC, with her husband, Dan, and a cat named Tybee.