This year’s Literacy Is Key “Book & Author Affair” will bring three novelists with singular personalities — one from Memphis, two from Atlanta — to the podium at the Holiday Inn, University of Memphis on Thursday.
The authors who will speak and sign books at the event include Courtney Miller Santo, who wrote “The Roots of the Olive Tree” and teaches creative writing at the University of Memphis; Mary Kay Andrews, who wrote the Callahan Garrity mystery series and whose recent novel is “Spring Fever”; and Claire Cook, who wrote “Must Love Dogs” and “Wallflower in Bloom.”
Andrews’ real name is Kathy Hogan Trocheck. Her mysteries have been nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, Agatha and Macavity awards, and her “escapist” novels written under her pen name include “The Fixer Upper” and “Savannah Breeze.”
She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and covered the murder trials that were the basis of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” while a reporter in Savannah, Ga. She also worked 10 years as a reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Claire Cook, whose newest book, “Time Flies,” will be published in June, describes herself as a midlife bloomer. “After a lifetime of fear and procrastination and 16 years as a teacher, I wrote my first novel in my minivan at 45,” she writes on her website. Then, she was filling time while her daughter was in swim practice; now she lectures not just on writing but on the art of “reinvention.”
“At 50, I walked the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of the adaptation of my second novel, “‘Must Love Dogs.’ ”
While Cook chants “Midlife rocks!” on her site, Miller Santo’s confessional online biography says, “I enjoyed being 30 until I went to my first class in graduate school and realized everyone else was 22.” Still, she adds: “Now that I teach undergrads, I wish I were old enough to look professorial.”
Miller Santo majored in journalism at Washington and Lee University, and received her master’s in fine arts at the University of Memphis. Her debut novel is about five generations of women living in a house in a California olive grove.
The Memphis Alumnae Association of Kappa Kappa Gamma organizes the annual Literacy is Key luncheon to benefit Literacy Mid-South. The 2013 event begins Thursday at 10 a.m. with a “prologue party,” where guest authors will sign their books. The lunch and program at the Holiday Inn, 3700 Central, begins at 11 a.m.
Tickets start at $45. For information, see memphiskkg.org or firstname.lastname@example.org.