North Carolina’s most interesting new authors

D.G. Martin One-on-one

March 24, 2014

There are three pieces of good news about my favorite television program, UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch.

First, upcoming new programs feature some of North Carolina’s most interesting authors.

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s Michael Parker’s new novel follows a North Carolina man who packs up a truck, runs away from his troubles here, and winds up in Texas. On a used car lot, he meets a woman who wants to buy the same 1984 Buick Electra that he had decided to buy. Inexplicably, they buy it together. Then Parker brings the stories of these two people and the car in to one surprising and satisfying saga titled “All I have in this World.”

Marisha Pessl’s debut novel, “Special Topics in Calamity Physics,” was one of The New York Times’s 10 best fiction books of the year, a Times best seller, and a critical success. We had to wait eight years for her second book, “Night Film.” Like her first book, it takes us on a wild and intriguing journey. This time the reader explores the world of a mysterious filmmaker whose cult followers and detractors collide after the apparent suicide of his talented daughter.

The University of North Carolina folklorist and scholar William Ferris has spent a lifetime collecting and celebrating voices of the South. In “The Storied South: Voices of Writers and Artists,” he shares his favorite memories of 26 Southern writers, scholars, artists and composers including Eudora Welty, Alex Haley, Alice Walker and Pete Seeger.

In “The Governor’s Lady,” former WBTV anchor Bob Inman takes us inside the government of a southern state that could be North Carolina. Cooper Lanier, the new governor, must deal with the possibility that her husband, the former governor, and current presidential candidate Pickett Lanier, is deeply involved in corrupt schemes to line the pockets of his supporters.

In “What I Came to Tell You” by Tommy Hays, Grover, a 12-year-old boy in Asheville, has lost his mom in a traffic accident. He struggles and finds solace in creating art in a bamboo forest on a lot near his home. Everything for him is threatened when the lot goes up for sale. Hayes wrote for a young audience, but his story has great appeal to readers of any age.

Real facts are the basis of North Carolina State University Professor Elaine Neil Orr’s fictional account, “A Different Sun: A Novel of Africa.” The daughter of a pre-Civil War Southern slaveholder travels to Africa as the wife of a Baptist missionary to bring the gospel to the Yoruba people in what is now Nigeria. Orr, herself the daughter of Baptist missionaries, uses her characters and setting to tell a richly complex tale filled with universal themes and conflicts.

The second good news item: with the end of Festival’s fundraising special programming, Bookwatch gets back its Sunday noon airtime on March 30 in addition to its regular Thursday at 5 p.m. slot.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For information, visit