Virginia Highlands Festival
335 Cummings Street
Abingdon, VA 24210
Contact: Becky Caldwell, Executive Director
Office: (276) 623-5266
High-resolution photos may be downloaded from the
website or requested via email
Link to access google doc of this press release, click HERE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ADRIANA TRIGIANI HEADLINES 70TH ANNUAL
VIRGINIA HIGHLANDS FESTIVAL WRITERS’ DAY
FRIDAY, JULY 27 BEGINNING AT 8 AM
FESTIVAL DATES: FRIDAY, JULY 27-SUNDAY, AUGUST 5, 2018
ABINGDON, Va./July 10, 2018/ This year’s Virginia Highlands Festival Writers’ Day features local favorites such as writers Adriana Trigiani and Rita Quillen, as well as actor/songwriter Eugene Wolf, who will be conducting workshops on Writers’ Day of this year’s Virginia Highlands Festival. They will be joined by young adult novelist RJ Harris, children’s author Joan Donaldson, and historian Kathy Shearer. The event is Friday, July 27, beginning with registration from 8-9 am, then continuing throughout the day, culminating in “An Evening of Words and Music.”
Adriana Trigiani will begin the day’s events at 9 am, with a workshop where she will give attendees an overview of the writing life, practical steps to create a sacred space to work, and tips for the daily care and feeding of their imagination to tell their own stories through the craft of writing. Trigiani has become much beloved around the world for her novels including the “Big Stone Gap” and the “Valentine” trilogies, “The Shoemaker’s Wife,” “Lucia, Lucia,” “All the Stars in the Heavens,” and the recent “Kiss Carlo.”
Rita Quillen is one of the region’s finest poets. Her new volume, “The Mad Farmer’s Wife,” is a response to a life lived on a mountain cattle farm in Southwest Virginia and also to a poetic persona created by noted Kentucky poet and essayist Wendell Berry: the Mad Farmer. One of Quillen’s workshops will focus on using two poetic forms: the ghazal and the pantoum, as a stimulus to branch out in your writing. She says, “Moving out into unfamiliar forms is often just the stimulus the writer needs to come up with new poems, even if they wind up abandoning the form.” Her second workshop will be a “lightning round” of writing prompts to generate some ideas that writers can develop later into poems, stories, or essays. The benefits to the writer of pursuing both prose and poetry will be discussed.
RJ Harris has developed a trilogy of young adult novels, the Native Guardian series, based on the Appalachian Mountain landscape, along with the legends, myths, and folklore of the area. One of her workshops will be on how to use one’s family past to inspire stories. She says that that she will instruct participants on “how different types of history (including family genealogy, local history, folklore, legends, and superstitions) can flow through your writing to create complicated characters, unique settings, and haunting plotlines that not only appeal to readers but also showcase who you are and where you come from.” Her other workshop will discuss how the use of point of view, verb tenses, and word choice can help control character.
Joan Donaldson is the author of two picture books, two young adult novels, and a collection of essays. “On Viney’s Mountain” won the 2010 Friends of American Writers Award and represented the State of Tennessee at the 2010 National Book Festival. One of her workshops will be on how authors create compelling stories. She and participants will explore elements of craft as displayed by various children’s authors and consider how these writers shaped their stories. Her second workshop will be on creative non-fiction, examining how storytelling techniques can be employed by nonfiction writers to fashion essays with drama and meaning.
Eugene Wolf is an actor/singer/storyteller who performed for many years with Johnson City’s Road Company Theater and a 20-year member of Barter Theatre’s acting company. He is probably best known for his signature role as A. P. Carter in “Keep on The Sunny Side.” He will conduct a workshop on “How do you shape your stories and songs into a cohesive work of art?” This year Wolf has been touring an autobiographical play “The Book of Mamaw,” a hilarious one-man show of songs and stories about his formative years living with his grandparents, specially the influence of his life of what he calls his “Church of Christ M.amaw.” He will talk about the power of using “the dirt you come from to make a satisfying mudpie that can feed the multitudes.”
The final workshop will be “The Business of Independence: Are You Ready to Self-Publish?” led by Kathy Shearer, along with Rita Quillen, Rebekah Harris, and Joan Donaldson. Whether writers want to publish and sell locally or distribute across multiple markets—or if you’re trying to decide if self-publishing is the right path for you—learn how to get your project from your computer to your target audience. Shearer has published four books of Southwest Virginia oral history, plus a few books for other people, handling all the facets of the production from the writing to the marketing, and she is eager to share her methods with aspiring self-publishers.
Participants can pre-register online, and select the workshops of their choice, at vahighlandsfestival.org. The registration fee is $40, but high school, college, or university students may attend for free.
For more information, contact the chair of the event: Deborah Prescott at (276) 466-4002.
As the culminating event of Writers’ Day, “An Evening of Words & Music” will feature the locally popular Wolf Hills Jazz Quartet and Writers’ Day authors: Rita Quillen, RJ Harris, Joan Donaldson, and Eugene Wolf. The band will provide jazz interludes for readings and performances by the authors throughout their set.
The event will take place at Heartwood on the campus of Virginia Highlands Community College at 7 pm. Admission is $10, but attendees at Writers’ Day are admitted free of charge.
Heartwood’s Brew Bar Bites, Treats and Beverages will be available for purchase throughout the event. The wolf Hills Jazz Quartet consists of Ed Davis on bass, Ernie Braganza on guitar, Joe Pendergast on drums, and Tom Peterson on saxophone.
For a complete listing of Festival programs, visit vahighlandsfestival.org or pick up a program guide at a Food City store near you.
About the Virginia Highlands Festival: Founded in 1948, the Virginia Highlands Festival is an annual, ten-day event devoted to the celebration of Southwest Virginia heritage and rich Appalachian tradition. Held in historic Abingdon, Virginia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Festival attracts thousands of visitors each year. The Festival was selected as the “Best Art Event” by the readers of Virginia Living magazine in 2018, recognized as a Top 20 Event by the Southeastern Tourism Society and was named as Blue Ridge Country’s Best Non-Music Festival in 2018. The 70th Virginia Highlands Festival will run from July 27-August 5 (Antiques Market July 28- August 5) and feature live concerts, a juried arts and crafts show, and an antique market, as well as workshops, lectures and tours. To learn more about the Virginia Highlands Festival and this year’s events, please visit http://www.vahighlandsfestival.org
Writers’ Day Instructor Photos