Professor/Chair, Department of English
AUTHOR

Mark West

Novels Set in the Charlotte Area

A reader of my Storied Charlotte blog recently sent me an email in which she asked, “Are there any novels set in Charlotte?”  I responded by sending her a list of five novels that take place in Charlotte, but her question sparked my curiosity.  I started researching this topic, and I soon realized that my initial list of five novels was way too short.  I then decided to compile a list of ten novels set in Charlotte, and then I upped it to a dozen, and I finally settled on a list of...

Paula Martinac and the Queen City

In Paula Martinac’s recently published novel Clio Rising, the central character, a young woman named Livvie Bliss, leaves her home in North Carolina and relocates to New York in 1983.  She moves to New York so that she can pursue a career in publishing and because she feels that she can live openly as a lesbian in New York.  Paula’s story has connections to Livvie’s story, but there is a key difference.  Paula spent much of her adult life pursuing a publishing and writing...

T.J. Reddy: Charlotte’s Own Civil Rights Activist, Poet, and Artist

As I reflect on the on the recent demonstrations and protest marches in Charlotte and the rest of our country in response to the killing of George Floyd, I am reminded of the life and legacy of T.J. Reddy, one of Charlotte’s leading civil rights activists.  Reddy died on March 31, 2019, but he and today’s protesters are all part of a longer struggle for social justice.  As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends...

War Stories

With Memorial Day upon us, now is a fitting time not only to honor those who lost their lives while serving in the military but also to reflect on the power and significance of well-told war stories.  The type of war stories that I find most moving are those that focus on how individuals respond to the high-stakes situations associated with wars.  Two such books are Wynne’s War (2014) by Aaron Gwyn and Two Souls Indivisible:  The Friendship That Saved Two POWs in Vietnam (2004)...

The Forging of Andrew Hartley’s Impervious

In our roles as UNC Charlotte professors, Andrew Hartley and I were both on campus on April 30th of last year, the day that two UNC Charlotte students lost their lives in a shooting that took place in a campus classroom.  I had left campus about fifteen minutes before the shooting occurred.  Andrew, however, was in the middle of an end-of-year theatre departmental celebration when the shots rang out, so he and his students experienced first-hand the terror of huddling in a dressing...

Genre Fiction Set in Charlotte

Charlotte is not only the home of bestselling author Kathy Reichs, but it is also the setting for many of her popular Temperance Brennan mystery novels.   Reichs is one of many genre fiction writers who use Charlotte as a setting for their stories.  These authors show different sides of Charlotte, but they all draw attention to the Queen City.  For the purposes of this Storied Charlotte blog post, I am focusing on ten such authors.  Often these authors...

Shelton Drum, the Founder of Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find

For Charlotte’s readers of comic books, graphic novels and manga, Shelton Drum has achieved the status of a local legend.  Forty years ago, Shelton founded Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find, an independent comics shop, which is now located at 417 Pecan Avenue in Charlotte’s Plaza-Midwood neighborhood. Although he was only in his twenties at the time, he already had extensive experience collecting comic books.  His customers appreciated his expertise and enjoyed talking...

Of Gardens, Books, and Elizabeth Lawrence

Elizabeth Lawrence

Like many of my friends and family members, I have turned to gardening in an effort to relieve the stresses associated with living through our current pandemic.  It would be more accurate to say that I have returned to gardening since I once had a nice vegetable garden, but it turned into a weed patch many years ago.  Given my renewed interest in gardening, my wife and son gave me for my birthday an assortment of herbs to plant in my garden, and my sister...

Of Anchors, Books, and Juggling Women

My guess is that in other cities television news anchors and radio broadcasters don’t generally write books, but in Charlotte it’s another story.   This month Molly Grantham, a WBTV news anchor, published her second book, The Juggle Is Real:  The Off-Camera Life of an On-Camera Mom.  Grantham is not the only Charlotte-area anchor or broadcaster to have published multiple books.  Sheri Lynch of the Bob and Sheri radio show has also published...

Dannye Romine Powell and Her 45 Years as a Player in Charlotte’s Literary Scene

Photo credit:
Laurie Smithwick

Shortly after I moved to Charlotte in the summer of 1984, I subscribed to The Charlotte Observer.  At the time, Dannye Romine Powell served as the book editor for the paper.  Back in those days, the paper published a two-page book section every Sunday.  It included original book reviews, interviews with authors, and news about local literary events.  As a regular reader of the paper’s book section, I got to know Dannye...