Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Trapped in the Dusk

Erica Waters’ Ghost Wood Song is a suspenseful story about grief, bravery, and growing up

In Nashville writer Erica Waters’ debut novel, Ghost Wood Song, a riveting coming-of-age thriller, Shady Grove sets out on a quest to unearth her family’s most sinister secrets so that she can finally lay the past to rest and protect the ones still living. Waters will appear at the 2020 Southern Festival of Books, held online October 1-11.

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Grief, Guilt, and Greed

Communing with the dead is good business in Helene Dunbar’s Prelude for Lost Souls

“St. Hilaire was all about guiding the living through contact with the dead,” explains 17-year-old Russ in Helene Dunbar’s new young adult novel, Prelude for Lost Souls. “We simply relayed the words of the dead to those who needed to hear them.” Russ is one of three troubled teens whose lives intersect one summer in a mysterious New York town. Dunbar will discuss the book at YA-hoo Fest, an online celebration of young adult literature hosted by the Southern Lit Alliance in Chattanooga, September 14-17.

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Battered by the Bomb

Within a love triangle, broken characters seek healing from the wounds of war

The war is over, but deep and debilitating scars remain in Jennie Fields’ novel, Atomic Love, set in 1950s Chicago. When an FBI agent asks a former Manhattan Project nuclear physicist to investigate her former lover, who is accused of treason, her quiet life is turned upside down. Jennie Fields will discuss Atomic Love at a virtual event hosted by Parnassus Books in Nashville on August 18.

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A House that Binds

In Angela Flournoy’s first novel, members of a large Detroit clan clash and thrive in a city under stress

Set in Detroit, Angela Flournoy’s critically celebrated first novel follows the struggles—with relationships, addiction, finances, even a ghost—of thirteen siblings and their parents. Flournoy discussed The Turner House with Chapter 16 prior to her 2016 appearances at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville and the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville.

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Of Facts and Fables

Maurice Carlos Ruffin discusses his mesmerizing debut novel, We Cast a Shadow

Maurice Carlos Ruffin casts a satirical spell in his debut novel, We Cast A Shadow. Its unnamed narrator, driven by fierce love for his son, makes decisions that expose his family to the dangers of a world that may seem dystopian but in fact lies excruciatingly close to our own. Ruffin will appear at the 2019 Southern Festival of Books, held in Nashville on October 11-13.

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Teaching and Unteaching—and Entertaining All the Way

For more than three decades, Patricia McKissack has been writing children’s books that bring to life the stories, and the truth, of her ancestors

As she was coming of age in Nashville in the 1950s, there were many places award-winning children’s author Patricia McKissack was not allowed to go. She remembers hotels and restaurants that forbade African Americans entry, and movie theaters with a separate doorway in the alley for black patrons. The farthest reaches of the Grand Ole Opry’s balcony, known as the buzzard’s roost, was the only seating open to African Americans, McKissack recalls. She never partook: “My grandfather said that watermelons would bloom in January if any of his children went down there. ‘We don’t sit in no buzzard’s roost,’ he said. ‘We’re human beings, not buzzards.'”

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