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

Thrity Umrigar

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.

Nathan Harris

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.

George Dawes Green

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.

DeShawn Charles Winslow

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.

Judy Goldman

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.

Mindy Friddle

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.

Bren McClain

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.

Valerie Sayers

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.

Angelique Medow

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.

Sallie Ann Robinson

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.

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.

Miho Kinnas

Miho Kinnas is a Japanese poet/translator living in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. She is the author of two books of poetry: Today, Fish Only and Move Over Bird (Math Paper Press, 2014 and 2019). Her poems, translations and book reviews appeared in many journals including Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Literary Shanghai, Quixotica: Poems East of La Mancha, The Museum of American Poetics and a Seattle-based Belltelist journal that nominated her poem “End” for the Pushcart Prize. She gave poetry workshops at Shanghai Literary Festival, Singapore Writers’ Festival, Pat Conroy Literary Center, Arnold Arboretum/Harvard Art Museum, and at local schools, among others.

Cassandra King

Cassandra King Conroy is a best-selling novelist whose fiction has won the hearts of readers everywhere, especially in the American South. The Same Sweet Girls was the national number one Booksense Selection, and spent several weeks on both the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. Both The Sunday Wife and The Same Sweet Girls were nominated for Southern Independent Booksellers Association’s book of the year award. A fourth novel, Queen of Broken Hearts, set in King’s home state of Alabama became a Literary Guild and Book-of-the-Month Club Selection as well as a SIBA bestseller. The fifth novel, Moonrise, was a SIBA Okra Pick and a Southern Booksellers bestseller, as was her book of non-fiction, The Same Sweet Girls Guide to Life. Her memoir, Tell Me a Story: My Life with Pat Conroy, was released from William Morrow in October 2019 and won SIBA’s Southern Book Prize for nonfiction in 2020. She resides in Beaufort, where she is the honorary chair of the Pat Conroy Literary Center. www.cassandrakingconroy.com

Ellen Malphrus

Ellen Malphrus lives and writes beside the May River in her native South Carolina Lowcountry and beneath the mountains of western Montana. She studied under James Dickey and was also mentored by her beloved friend Pat Conroy. She is a professor of English and the writer-in-residence at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, as well as deputy director of the annual Pat Conroy Literary Festival. Her debut novel Untying the Moon was published by Pat Conroy’s Story River Books. Malphrus’s fiction, poetry, essays, and articles have appeared in publications including Southern Literary Journal, Review of Contemporary Fiction, William & Mary Review, James Dickey Review, Haight Ashbury Review, Georgia Poetry Review, Essence of Beaufort and the Lowcountry, SCG Lifestyle Magazine, and Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy. She is most at home in nature, and her concern for wild places and creatures, particularly when it comes to coastal conservation, is evident in the fabric of her writing. http://ellenmalphrus.com.

Elizabeth Robin

Elizabeth Robin, retired high school teacher, has two collections through Finishing Line Press: Where Green Meets Blue (2018) and Silk Purses and Lemonade (2017); To My Dreamcatcher will be out in 2022. She is the 2021 winner of the Cary McCray Nickens Fellowship. Of her work in that competition judge Tiana Clark said: “I see a lunar lyricism reflected by this poet. The language is mystical, mythic, sublime, and romantic. The haunting imagery is fresh and allows for strangeness, devastation, and delight in a way that captures me as a reader.” As a poet of witness and discovery, Robin tells the stories of those pushed into margins. She will or did appear most recently in Ukweli, Poetry Society of South Carolina Yearbook 2021, COMET buses, Catfish Stew 2021, Drunk Monkeys, Ripples, The Broadkill Review, i am not a silent poet, and Blue Mountain Review. Robin emcees an open mic and literary programs on Hilton Head Island. www.elizabethrobin.com

Estelle Ford-Williamson

Estelle Ford-Williamson is a novelist and memoirist whose most recent book, set in Rising Fawn, GA, has won awards from the Sandhills Writers Conference and the Atlanta Writers Conference. Her previous books were Abbeville Farewell: A Novel of Early Atlanta and North Georgia, and Seed of South Sudan: Memoir of a Lost Boy Refugee, written with Majok Marier. She has received Poets and Writers grants for readings and workshops in Atlanta and New York, and has presented memoir workshops through the Pat Conroy Literary Center in Beaufort, SC, as well as for the Lou Walker Senior Center in DeKalb County, GA. A short story drawn from Rising Fawn was a finalist for the Short Story America Festival in 2017. Born in Chattanooga, TN, Ford-Williamson graduated from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN and worked as a reporter for UPI in Atlanta, where she later worked as a management trainer and career specialist before writing her first novel. She moved to the Beaufort SC area in 2016. www.estelleford-williamson.com