2018 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.

Left to right in the group photo: Jack Herrick, Chris Frank, Rick Good (not coming), Bland Simpson, Rob Ladd (not coming), and Clay Buckner. Absent is Mark Roberts, who is part of the touring band.

Jack Herrick [trumpet, bass, whistle, bouzouki, etc.] has been a Red Clay Rambler for 39 years as the band’s “junk man,” meaning he plays whatever instrument is left over when the band arranges the tunes and songs. In between much far-flung touring, he has written shows with fellow Ramblers and other great collaborators such as Sam Shepard, Michael Bogdanov, and Doug Marlette. During the last few years he has put music and lyrics into Shakespeare plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Folger Library, Great River Shakes, and the Guthrie Theater. “We Ramblers had the pleasure of knowing Pat Conroy,” he says, “and we’re happy to be here celebrating his memory.”

Mark Roberts plays traditional music on the flute, tin whistle, 5-string banjo and bouzouki and has had a long and varied career in music. He has toured and recorded with the seminal band Touchstone, played the banjo with the Red Clay Ramblers on Broadway in the show Fool Moon, and his flute and pennywhistle can be heard in the Jon Salyes film The Secret of Roan Innish; he also brought his whistle on tour with Don Henley. Mark has performed on and produced many recordings, most recently The High Caul Cap, a flute CD with guitarist Dan Compton.

Chris Frank has been playing guitar, accordion, and tuba with the Ramblers since 1982. Born and raised in Iowa, he taught elementary music and toured nationally as a “sensitive singer-songwriter” before settling down in Carrboro, where he lives with his wife, Eli, and dog, Basie. Chris’s day job is accessibility consultation and document remediation.

Clay Buckner has performed with the award winning Red Clay Ramblers since 1980. He has appeared with them in a number projects for Sam Shepard on stage and film, and in the Tony Award winning Broadway hit “Fool Moon” with productions in Los Angeles, Europe and New York. He lives in Carrboro and continues to enjoy teaching fiddle.

Bland Simpson has been The Red Clay Ramblers’ piano player since 1986, and he is also Kenan Distinguished Professor of English & Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His books include Into the Sound Country, The Coasts of Carolina, and Little Rivers & Waterway Tales, and his theatrical collaborations include Diamond Studs, King Mackerel, Kudzu, and Fool Moon. Simpson’s awards include the North Carolina Award for Fine Arts (2005) and the N.C. Humanities Council’s John Tyler Caldwell Award in the Humanities (2017).

William A. Balk Jr., veteran bookseller and master gardener, is a contributing writer to Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy. Balk also writes for WeeklyHubris.com. He serves on the board of directors of South Carolina Humanities and on the advisory council of the Pat Conroy Literary Center, where he is the volunteer coordinator.

Rick Bragg is the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of All Over but the Shoutin’, Ava’s Man, The Prince of Frogtown, and The Best Cook in the World. Bragg, who has written for numerous magazines, including Sports Illustrated and Food & Wine, was a newspaper reporter for two decades, covering high school football for the Jacksonville News and, among other topics, Islamic fundamentalism for the New York Times. Bragg is also a contributing writer to Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy. He has won more than fifty significant writing awards in books and journalism, including, twice, the American Society of Newspaper Editors Distinguished Writing Award. A graduate of Jacksonville State University, Bragg was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He is currently Professor of Writing in the Journalism Department at the University of Alabama.

Katherine Tandy Brown is a workshop leader, writing coach, and freelance writer. She has led her “Write into Your Heart” workshops at Y.E.S. By Design Women’s Retreat and at the Art of Intuitive Living Retreat, both at Palm Key, and at Thera Vista and at Blissed Retreats & Wellness Center, both in Beaufort. Katherine also teaches memoir, travel writing, and writing practice at USC Beaufort and in her downtown cottage. She is writing her first novel, One to Go: An Equine Thriller.

Sandra Brown the author of more than sixty New York Times best-selling novels, including Mean Streak, Deadline, Low Pressure, Lethal, Rainwater, Tough Customer, Smash Cut, Smoke Screen, Play Dirty, and—most recently—Seeing Red and Tailspin. Her novels French Silk, Smoke Screen, and Ricochet have been adapted for feature films, and she has appeared on truTV’s Murder by the Book and the Investigation Discovery series Hardcover Mysteries. More than eighty million copies of her books are in print worldwide, and her work has been translated into thirty-four languages. She has served as president of the Mystery Writers of America, and in 2008 she was named Thriller Master, the top award given by the International Thriller Writers Association. She has also been honored with the Texas Medal of the Arts for Literature and the Romance Writers of American Lifetime Achievement Award. Brown is also one of the 67 contributing writers to Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy, recalling in her essay Pat Conroy’s empowering influence on her and her son, actor and writer Ryan Brown.

Patti Callahan is a New York Times best-selling author of more than a dozen novels, including her most recent, Becoming Mrs. Lewis and The Bookshop at Water’s End. A finalist in the Townsend Prize for Fiction, an Indie Next Pick and Okra pick, and a multiple nominee for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Novel of the Year, she now lives in both Mountain Brook, Alabama, and Bluffton, South Carolina, with her husband.

Cassandra King Conroy is the award-winning author of five novels, a book of nonfiction, numerous short stories, essays, and magazine articles, most recently in Coastal Living and Southern Living. Her New York Times and USA Today best-selling second novel, The Sunday Wife, was a People magazine Page-Turner, a South Carolina’s Readers Circle choice, and one of Book Sense’s top reading group selections. Also a New York Times and USA Today best seller, The Same Sweet Girls was a number-one Book Sense selection on release. Both novels were nominated for Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance’s Book of the Year. Moonrise was a SIBA Okra Pick and best seller, as was The Same Sweet Girls Guide to Life: Advice from a Failed Southern Belle. Recently honored as a 2017 Alabama Humanities Foundation Fellow, Conroy is currently working on a memoir and a cookbook about life with her late husband, Pat Conroy. She is also a contributing writer to Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy.

Tim Conroy is a former special education teacher and school administrator. His first book of poetry, Theologies of Terrain, was edited by Poet Laureate of Columbia, South Carolina, Ed Madden and published in Muddy Ford Press’s Laureate Series. A founding board member of the Pat Conroy Literary Center, established in his brother’s honor, Conroy lives and writes in Columbia. He is a contributing writer to Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy.

Debbi Covington is an award-winning chef, caterer, and writer. A food columnist for Beaufort, South Carolina’s, Lowcountry Weekly, Covington is the author of the cookbooks Celebrate Everything! (Gold Medal Winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award), Dining under the Carolina Moon, and, most recently, Celebrate Beaufort. She has been featured as a “Master of Entertaining” in Southern Living magazine, and her recipes have been published in multiple cookbooks, including Southern Living’s Best Kept Secrets of the South’s Best Cooks and The Best of The Best of South Carolina. She is a contributing writer to Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy.

James A. “Andy” Crank is the author of Understanding Sam Shepherd and Understanding Randall Kenan, the editor of New Approaches to Gone with the Wind and The Collected Short Prose of James Agee. A professor of English at the University of Alabama, Crank focuses his research on representations of class, race, and sexuality in southern culture and literature. His current book-length project explores images of trash and disposability in southern culture.

Pam Durban is the author of Soon: Stories, published by Story River Books. Durban is also the author of the novels The Laughing Place (winner of the Townsend Prize), So Far Back (winner of the Lillian Smith Award), The Tree of Forgetfulness, and the short story collection All Set About with Fever Trees. Her short fiction has been published in Georgia Review, Tri-Quarterly, Southern Review, Shenandoah, Crazyhorse, Epoch, New Virginia Review, Ohio Review, and elsewhere. Durban has received a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship and a Whiting Writer’s Award as well as a James Michener Creative Writing Fellowship from the University of Iowa. A native of Aiken, South Carolina, she is the Doris Betts Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Walter Edgar, South Carolina’s preeminent historian, is the Neuffer Professor of Southern Studies Emeritus and Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus at the University of South Carolina. The host of the popular SC-ETV Radio program Walter Edgar’s Journal, Edgar is the author of the landmark South Carolina: A History and editor of the South Carolina Encyclopedia and Conversations with the Conroys: Interviews with Pat Conroy and His Family. He is also a contributing writer to Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy. His numerous awards and honors include the South Carolina Order of the Palmetto, the South Carolina Governor’s Award in the Humanities, and induction into the South Carolina Hall of Fame.

Stephanie Austin Edwards, a former dancer and costumer, is a novelist, writing teacher, and author consultant. Her twenty-two-year career in theater began in San Diego and moved her to New York City. She worked on Broadway and in film and on television with such talents as Liza Minnelli, Michael Jackson, Lauren Bacall, Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Hal Prince, Stephen Sondheim, Bill Cosby, and Michael Bennett. Later, she returned to her roots in the South Carolina lowcountry where she now facilitates writers’ groups, teaches writing workshops, and volunteers at the Pat Conroy Literary Center. Her debut novel, What We Set in Motion, won a Best Submission Award at the Atlanta Writer’s Club Conference. Stephanie is also a contributing writer to Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy.

Margaret Evans is the editor and publisher of Lowcountry Weekly, where she pens her South Carolina Press Association Award–winning column Rants & Raves. Her articles and essays have appeared in publications throughout the South, most recently State of the Heart: South Carolina Writers on the Places They Love, volume 2, Southbound magazine, and Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy. She is the former editor of Beaufort magazine and former assistant to Pat Conroy. Evans lives in Beaufort, where she is a member of the Pat Conroy Literary Center’s advisory council.

Melissa Ginsburg is the author of the poetry collection Dear Weather Ghost and the noir novel Sunset City, as well as two poetry chapbooks, Arbor and Double Blind. Her poems have appeared in Boulevard, Guernica, Fence, Denver Quarterly, Blackbird, and other magazines. She has received support from the Mississippi Arts Council and the Ucross Foundation. Originally from Houston, Texas, Ginsburg attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She is an assistant professor of creative writing and literature at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.

Author and attorney Scott Graber lives and writes in Beaufort, South Carolina, with his wife, the artist Susan Graber. A Citadel classmate and longtime friend of Pat Conroy’s, Graber is the author of the novels Malachi and Ten Days in Brazzaville and a contributing writer to Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy.

Cliff Graubart was born and raised in New York City. He attended the University of Toledo and is a graduate of Georgia State University. He boxed in the Golden Gloves, sold furs in Manhattan in his father’s store, and once parachuted out of a perfectly good airplane in celebration of his fortieth birthday—all material for his short stories, which have appeared in the Atlanta Journal magazine, GOODlife magazine, Atlanta magazine, and the Atlanta Gazette. Graubart is owner of the Old New York Book Shop in Atlanta, where he lives with his wife, Cynthia, and their two children. He is the author of The Curious Vision of Sammy Levitt and Other Stories and a contributing writer to Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy.

Cynthia Graubart, a former producer for the Food Network, is coauthor, with Nathalie Dupree, of Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking, which won a James Beard Book Award for American Cooking. Among Graubart’s other books are Slow Cooking for Two, Sunday Suppers, and Chicken in the Savor the South series. She is also a contributing writer to Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy.

Anthony Grooms’s latest novel, The Vain Conversation, was selected by Pat Conroy for his Story River Books imprint for publication in spring 2018. Like much of Grooms’s fiction, The Vain Conversation explores the complexity of race relations in the South during the Jim Crow years. His novel Bombingham, set against the civil rights movement, is often taught in high schools and colleges. It was a Washington Post notable book and was chosen as a citywide common read for Washington, D.C. His collection of short stories, Trouble No More, likewise has been widely adopted by teachers. Grooms has twice won the Lillian Smith Prize for Fiction and was a finalist for the Hurston-Wright Foundation Award. He holds fellowships from Yaddo, Bread Loaf, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Fulbright. Grooms is also a contributing writer to Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy.

F. Rutledge Hammes is the author of A Curious Matter of Men with Wings and the 2019 South Carolina Arts Commission Fellow in Prose. He earned his Master of Fine Arts in fiction from Old Dominion University and studied with several New York Times bestselling authors, Pulitzer Prize finalists, National Book Award winners and NEA and Guggenheim fellows, like Janet Peery, Sheri Reynolds, Tim Seibles, Pat Conroy, Bob Shacochis and Dorothy Allison. He is a contributing writer in Encyclopedia of Literary Biographies (Volume One and Volume Two) as well as Postwar Literature 1945-1970. He was a 2013 Pushcart Prize nominee and the winner of the Cypress Dome Fiction Award well as a finalist for both the Montage Poetry Award and the Paul Laurence Dunbar Award for Poetry. He is director of the Creative Writing program and writer-in-residence at the Charleston County School of the Arts, where his writing

Jonathan Haupt is the executive director of the Pat Conroy Literary Center, the founding director of the annual Pat Conroy Literary Festival, and the former director of the University of South Carolina Press. He serves on the boards of the South Carolina Academy of Authors and the Friends of South Carolina Libraries and on the advisory board of the South Carolina Humanities and the affiliates steering committee of the American Writers Museum. Haupt’s book reviews and author interviews have appeared in the Charleston Post and Courier; Lowcountry Weekly; Fall Lines; Shrimp, Collards & Grits magazine; and the Conroy Center’s Porch Talk blog. He is coeditor with Nicole Seitz of Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy.

Writer and teacher Elijah Heyward Jr. was born and raised in Beaufort, South Carolina. A graduate of South Carolina State University and veteran of the U.S. Air Force, he is an ordained minister who taught in Beaufort County schools for more than thirty years. His books include Stories and Poems of a Gullah Native and Shade: An Awakening.

Valinda Littlefield is the director of the African American Studies Program and an associate professor of history at the University of South Carolina, where she teaches course in African American history, women’s history, and the history of education. A member of the South Carolina Academy of Authors board of governors, Littlefield is coeditor of the three-volume series South Carolina Women: Their Lives and Times.

Ellen Malphrus, the author of the novel Untying the Moon, lives and writes in her native Carolina lowcountry and southwest Montana. Her fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy, Southern Literary Journal, Review of Contemporary Fiction, William and Mary Review, Georgia Poetry Review, Savannah Literary Journal, Yemassee Literary Journal, and Essence of Beaufort and the Lowcountry. Malphrus is the deputy director of the Pat Conroy Literary Festival and an adviser to the Pat Conroy Literary Center. A student of James Dickey, she is writer-in-residence and professor of English at the University of South Carolina Beaufort.

Quitman Marshall was born in Columbia, South Carolina, and grew up there and in Barcelona, Spain. He was the founding coordinator of the Literary Series at Spoleto Festival USA. Marshall is the 1996 winner of the Writers Exchange Award sponsored by Poets & Writers, and his book of poems You Were Born One Time won the 2013 South Carolina Poetry Archives Book Prize. He lives in Beaufort.

L.K. (Laurie) McCall taught high school English in alternative school settings for seventeen years. A South Carolina native, McCall has a bachelor’s degree from Clemson University and a Master’s in Education from Southern Wesleyan University. Her focus in education was to improve reading fluency and comprehension among high school students struggling to succeed in literacy rich classes. After releasing her first novel, Sway of the Siren, a love story set against the backdrop of the Lowcountry sea islands, she left education to pursue a second career in publishing with Pink Magazine. McCall is currently working on co-authoring a book with Gullah artist and author, Leroy Campbell. She and her husband and their two teenage sons live in Bluffton.

Bren McClain is the author of One Good Mama Bone, a novel published by Pat Conroy’s Story River Books. The novel was long-listed for the 2018 Crook’s Corner Book Prize, received a starred review in Booklist, was named a 2017 winter Okra pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA), and selected as the 2018 Pulpwood Queens Book of the Year. A contributing writer to Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy, McClain is a two-time winner of the South Carolina Fiction Project and the recipient of the 2005 Fiction Fellowship from the South Carolina Arts Commission. She is at work on her next novel, Took, which received the gold medal for the 2016 William Faulkner–William Wisdom Novel-in-Progress.

As immortalized in Pat Conroy’s memoir My Losing Season, Joseph Monte was Conroy’s sophomore English teacher at Washington, D.C.’s Gonzaga High School, a Jesuit school and Monte’s own alma mater. While a student at Gonzaga, Monte joined the Jesuit order, the Sodality of St. John Berchmans. Following graduation, he entered the St. Isaac Jogues and Companion Martyrs Novitiate, where he studied for the priesthood before reconsidering his path and opting instead for a future with a wife and children. He earned degrees from St. Joseph’s College and George Washington University. Monte’s remarkable career in education spanned fifty years; he retired as a long-serving guidance counselor at Albert Einstein High School in Kennsington, Maryland. Monte also served as president of the National Association of College Admission Counseling, of the Montgomery County Federation of Teachers, of the Montgomery County Youth Orchestra Association, and of the Parish Council at Our Lady of Lourdes in Bethesda. He was also the co-founder and president of two education unions: the Montgomery County Federation of Teachers and the Maryland chapter of the American Federation of Teachers. With his wife, Monte lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and still teaches Sunday School.

Chris Offutt is the author of Country Dark, Kentucky Straight, Out of the Woods, The Same River Twice, No Heroes, The Good Brother, and My Father the Pornographer. He also wrote screenplays for True Blood, Treme, and Weeds. His writing has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Whiting Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the NEA, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The international magazine Granta included him in its list of the “Top 20 Young American Writers.” His work is in many anthologies, inc