Author Appearance

Holly Kays to Present Her Book Trailblazers & Traditionalists

Join Waynesville author Holly Kays as she presents her newest book, Trailblazers & Traditionalists: Modern-day Smoky Mountain People, on Saturday, Feb. 1, at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva. Drop by starting at 2 p.m. to get an autographed copy and chat with the author, or wait till 3 p.m. for a book reading and exploration of some of the many fascinating stories contained in the book's pages.

Trailblazers & Traditionalists is a compilation of 33 feature stories previously published in The Smoky Mountain News, where Kays works as a journalist. Each piece highlights the life of a different mountain resident, offering an intimate look into the lives of some of the diverse and fascinating people who call this region home. From the first entry — the story of Ella Bird, one of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ two living Beloved Women — to the last — which is that of Mike Creason, who for four decades has been teaching the children of Western North Carolina to swim — this book celebrates people from all walks of life.

“I wrote these stories over a period of about five years of full-time work as a newspaper reporter, in that span easily interviewing thousands of people and writing hundreds of stories,” said Kays. “The stories that made it into this book are the stories that stuck with me. They’re the stories that resonated with me personally as well as professionally, and I hope they’ll do the same for my readers.”

 Readers will meet Payson Kennedy, co-founder of paddling powerhouse Nantahala Outdoor Center; David and Susan Belcher, beloved former leaders of Western Carolina University; Jennifer Pharr Davis, who in 2011 set the unofficial record for the fastest thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail; and George Ellison, a celebrated writer and naturalist who makes his home in a remote cove adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

 In reading a pre-publication version of Trailblazers & Traditionalists, Ellison — himself a prolific and award-winning author — said he was impressed by the contents.

 “This collection will become a popular item in its designated niche, by which I mean the loosely-defined but widely-read category of books with journalistic origins in newspapers and magazines,” Ellison said. “The content and style of Kays’ stories are anything but folksy; indeed, they are remindful of the sort of lengthy and in-depth stories associated with The New Yorker magazine.”

While Trailblazers & Traditionalists features some well-known names, its pages also contain many lesser-known ones that nevertheless have riveting stories attached to them.

Subjects include alpaca farmer Joe Moore, who refers to his animals as “livestock you love”; Danny Gibson, who has spent the past 10 years leading pack mules up and town the trails of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; Jim Mills, whose passion for fly fishing has led him to become a sought-after rodmaker; and Darwin Thomas, a heating and air conditioning technician with a second life cultivating greenhouses full of carnivorous plants.

Regardless of their specific interest, readers are sure to find a story — or two, or more — that appeals to them over the course of this book’s nearly 200 pages.

Holly Kays is a journalist and author who makes her home in the mountains of Western North Carolina. In 2017, she published her debut title, a novel called Shadows of Flowers. Set amid the windswept prairies of Wyoming and rounded mountains of southwest Virginia, the novel follows the story of Virginia native Dana Stullman, whose world turns upside down when her boyfriend dies in a car accident. Becoming lonelier than she could have imagined, Dana finds solace in an unexpected friendship, but her life remains paralyzed until a crisis in the Wyoming wilderness forces her to confront the past and choose her path into the future.

Dan Pierce’s New History of NC Moonshine

UNCA professor, Dan Pierce will visit City Lights Bookstore on Friday, November 1st at 6:30 p.m. He will present his new book, Tar Heel Lightnin': How Secret Stills and Fast Cars Made North Carolina the Moonshine Capital of the World.  Wiley Cash, the author of The Last Ballad, said of the book, “Tar Heel Lightnin' is by turns illuminating and hilarious. Daniel Pierce is the rare academic who distills history to its most essential elements, ensuring that his readers will come away enlightened and entertained. For North Carolinians, the region we call home may influence our preferences in cuisine and sports teams, but there is no doubt that moonshine is as essential to our culture as pork and basketball. As usual, Pierce holds a mirror up to the South, allowing us to see ourselves, our culture, and our history through the clarity of his prose.”



Tar Heel Lightnin': How Secret Stills and Fast Cars Made North Carolina the Moonshine Capital of the World Cover Image
ISBN: 9781469653556
Availability: No new copies on our shelves but maybe in used, now or arriving soon. Ask us.
Published: University of North Carolina Press - October 21st, 2019

Corn from a Jar: Moonshining in the Great Smoky Mountains Cover Image
By Daniel S. Pierce, Steve Kemp (Editor), Kent Cave (Editor)
ISBN: 9780937207758
Availability: We can probably get this title but the price is subject to change.
Published: Great Smoky Mountains Association - April 19th, 2013

Paige Christie’s New Legacies of Arnan Novel

Paige L. Christie will return to City Lights Bookstore on Friday, November 8th, at 6:30 p.m.  She will present the latest in her Legacies of Arnan series, book three, Long Light. Janny Wurts, author of the Wars of Light and Shadow series, said of the book, "A superbly crafted sequel, Long Light sets the stage on fire for the finale of Paige L. Christie's series--a story that engages and upends the very fabric of myth and stereotype."

Long Light (Legacies of Arnan #3) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781943419890
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Prospective Press - September 10th, 2019

Wing Wind (Legacies of Arnan #2) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781943419869
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Prospective Press - December 18th, 2018

Draigon Weather (Legacies of Arnan #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781943419845
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Prospective Press - October 19th, 2018

Jen Thomas Book Signing and Reading

Jen Thomas will visit City Lights Bookstore on Saturday, November 9th at 3 p.m.  She will present her historical young adult novel, Our Hearts are the Same.  Kate, the plantation owner’s daughter, and Adamina "Addie," the recently freed slave girl form a beautiful friendship during a treacherous time of havoc. It is 1869, the Civil War is over, and Savannah, GA is looking to be restored again after considerable mayhem. Kate’s relatives are as opposed to this friendship as Addie’s are encouraging. Together, and through unimaginable tragedy, they take life one day at a time being the best of friends and determined not to let tensions tear them apart. Some girls go through a lifetime and do not find this bond within a friendship. Meet Kate and Addie, the girls who defied the odds.

To reserve copies of Our Hearts are the Same please call City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, NC at 828-586-9499.

Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green to read at Western Carolina University

North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green will read from her work and take questions from the audience at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 30th, in the Blue Ridge Conference Room at Western Carolina University.  Her work is lively and accessible, both personal and universal.  


Jaki Shelton Green is the first African American and the third woman to be appointed as the North Carolina Poet Laureate. When he appointed her in 2018, Governor Cooper stated that "Jaki Shelton Green brings a deep appreciation of our state's diverse communities to her role as an ambassador of North Carolina literature. Jaki's appointment is a wonderful new chapter in North Carolina's rich literary history."


Jaki Shelton Green is the author of eight collections of poetry: Dead on Arrival, Masks, Conjure Blues, singing a tree into dance, Breath of the Song, published by Carolina Wren Press and Blair Publishers. Her other publications; Feeding the Light, I Want to Undie You are published by Jacar Press. Her poetry has been published in over eighty national and international anthologies and featured in magazines such as Essence and Ms. Magazine


Her collegiate and professional experiences include currently teaching Documentary Poetry at the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies and serving as Visiting Professor for the Carlow University MFA Program; Writer-in-Residence at Lenoir-Rhyne University; Teaching for Equity Fellow at Duke University; serving on the NC African America Cultural Heritage Commission; and a host of other positions from the regional to the international. She is the owner of SistaWRITE and co-partner with Dream Yourself Awake and Vertikal Creative Ventures providing writing retreats and travel excursions for women writers.


Her awards include the 2019 NC Humanities Council Caldwell Award, the 2019 American Academy of Poets Laureate Fellowship, 2014 induction into the NC Literary Hall of Fame Inductee, service as the Poet Laureate of the Piedmont, the 2007 Sam Ragan Award for Contributions to the Fine Arts of North Carolina, and the 2003 Carolina Award for Literature (the highest award the state can bestow for significant contributions in science, literature, fine arts, and public service). 


The Poet Laureate’s presentation is co-sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Programs, the Office of Intercultural Affairs, and the Department of English.  For more information, please contact the Department of English at (828) 227-3268 or Dr. Catherine Carter at 227-3931.

Breath of the Song: New and Selected Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9780932112491
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Carolina Wren Press - July 30th, 2005

Dead on Arrival: Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9780932112385
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Carolina Wren Press - January 1st, 1983

Conjure Blues: Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9780932112378
Availability: We can probably get this title but the price is subject to change.
Published: Carolina Wren Press - June 1st, 1996

Singing a Tree Into Dance (Carolina Wren Press Poetry #4) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780932112453
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Carolina Wren Press - August 15th, 2004

Feeding the Light- by Jaki Shelton Green Cover Image
ISBN: 9780989795234
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Jacar Press - September 1st, 2014

Meagan Lucas: In Conversation with Benjamin Cutler & Andrew K. Clark

Meagan will visit City Lights Bookstore on Friday, September 6th at 6:30 p.m. She will be joined by Benjamin Cutler and Andrew K. Clark and they will discuss her debut novel, Songbirds and Stray Dogs.  Taylor Brown, author of Gods of Howl Mountain said of Songbirds and Stray Dogs, “Meagan Lucas is a brave new voice in Southern fiction. Songbirds and Stray Dogs packs a double shot of grit and heart, with a story stretching from the beaches of the Carolina Lowcountry to the Land of the Sky and a heroine who doesn’t know the word quit. An unflinching portrait of motherhood, trauma, and the family we make along the way.”

Meagan is a Canadian who found a home in the mountains of North Carolina. Born and raised on a small island in Northern Ontario, she now lives with her husband and their children in Hendersonville, North Carolina. She teaches English at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and is the Fiction Editor at Barren Magazine.

Songbirds and Stray Dogs Cover Image
ISBN: 9781599487526
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Main Street Rag Press - August 1st, 2019

Nancy Werking Poling Book Signing

Black Mountain author, Nancy Werking Poling will visit City Lights Bookstore on Saturday, August 17th at 3 p.m. He will present her novel, While the Earth Still Speaks. Set in the mountains of North Carolina, Wayne Caldwell said of her novel, “Nancy Poling has crafted a surprising mix—While Earth Still Speaks is part adventure, part environmental activism, part visionary tale. Uniting it is Elizabeth McNair, who breaks from a stifling marriage ultimately to become her own woman and leave a legacy of courage.”

While Earth Still Speaks Cover Image
ISBN: 9780998565118
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Nancy Werking Poling - June 15th, 2019

Anna Fariello’s Folk Book on the John C. Campbell Folk School

Anna Fariello will present her book, Craft & Community: John C. Campbell Folk School 1925-1945 on Friday, August 23rd at 6:30 p.m.  John C. Campbell Folk School is a thriving educational institution in the Southwestern corner of North Carolina that serves thousands of students from all over the world who sign up for classes in folk arts, writing, and local lore. This book features the first twenty years when those who created and sustained the Folk School now appear quite larger than life. It features ten individuals who affected its future and provides an overview of how it came into being. 

Anna Fariello is a research associate professor at Western Carolina University’s Hunter Library. She has curated over 30 exhibitions, mostly focusing on American crafts and authored three books on Cherokee crafts. To reserve copies of Craft & Community please call City Lights Bookstore at 828-586-9499.

Craft & Community: John C. Campbell Folk School 1925-1945 Cover Image
ISBN: 9780976892342
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Western Carolina University - July 23rd, 2019

Marly Youmans Returns with Her New Poetry Collection

Former Cullowhee resident, Marly Youmans will make her return to City Lights Bookstore on Saturday, September 7th at 3 p.m. She will be presenting her new poetry collection The Book of the Red King. The book is a collection of connected poems telling the story of the mysterious Red King, the metamorphosing Fool, and the ethereal Precious Wentletrap. The book features beautiful illustrations by famed Welsh artist, Clive Hicks-Jenkins.

Vietnam Photographs From North Carolina Veterans

Award-winning photojournalist, Martin Tucker will visit City Lights Bookstore on Tuesday, September 24th at 6:30 p.m. He will present his book, Vietnam Photographs from North Carolina Veterans.  When American soldiers returned home from Vietnam, most put their memories away. Decades later, North Carolina veterans contributed thousands of dusty and faded personal photographs to what started as a class project at the Sawtooth School for Visual Art in Winston-Salem. It evolved into a national traveling exhibition and then a permanent collection of the North Carolina Museum of History called "A Thousand Words: Photographs by Vietnam Veterans." For many of these men and women, this was their first opportunity to show what they couldn't say. Photographer and Vietnam-era vet Martin Tucker presents selected glimpses of those unforgettable experiences.

Martin Tucker is a photojournalist, documentary filmmaker, and speaker. His work has been published via the Associated Press, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The New York Post, Charlotte Magazine, Our State, Humanities Magazine, Vietnam Veterans of America Magazine, US Weekly and, People Magazine. Martin currently teaches photography and digital media at Summit School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1967 to 1969 and is a lifetime member of the Navy UDT-SEAL Museum Association.

Vietnam Photographs from North Carolina Veterans: The Memories They Brought Home Cover Image
ISBN: 9781467142199
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: History Press - August 12th, 2019


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