Professor/Chair, Department of English
AUTHOR

Mark West

UNC Charlotte Graduates Find Success Writing for Children and Young Adults

In the fall of 1984, I joined UNC Charlotte’s English Department with the understanding that I would focus my teaching and scholarship on children’s literature.  During the early years of my career as an English professor, I took a lot of pride and satisfaction in my successes in publishing articles and books.  I remember, for example, when I sold a piece to the New York Times Book Review, I used the honorarium to throw a party for the entire English Department. I started...

Allegra Westbrooks, Charlotte’s Pioneering African American Librarian

courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler
Carolina Room

I never met Allegra Westbrooks.  She retired from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (then called the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County) in 1984, the same year that I arrived in Charlotte.  She did, however, have an impact on my early years in Charlotte.  Soon after my arrival, I met Pat Siegfried, the library’s Director of Youth Services.  When she found out that I once made my living as a professional...

Gail Z. Martin and the Launching of ConTinual

As one of Charlotte’s most prominent writers of fantasy novels, Gail Z. Martin is a frequent guest/speaker at fantasy conventions.  This time of the year, Gail is usually making plans to attend Dragon Con, the giant fantasy convention that normally takes place in downtown Atlanta during the Labor Day weekend.  For Gail, participating in Dragon Con provides her with an opportunity to promote her latest fantasy novels, and she has several new novels to promote this year,...

Charlotte’s Food Writers

Earlier this month, Charlotte lost one of its leading food writers.  Helen Moore, The Charlotte Observer’s food writer from 1966 to 2007, died on August 3, 2020.  During her long career as a food journalist, Moore did much more than share recipes and cooking tips.  She wrote about food traditions in the South, interviewed prominent North Carolinians about the role that food played in their lives, and commented on the changing food scene in Charlotte.  Moore earned an...

And the Winner Is…Alicia D. Williams

Charlotte is home to many successful children’s authors, but only a few have won the big awards in children’s literature, such as the Caldecott Medal, the Newbery Medal, and the Coretta Scott King Award.  Fifty years ago, Gail Haley became the first children’s author from Charlotte to win one of these awards when her picture book A Story, A Story won the Caldecott Medal.  The latest Charlotte children’s author to enter this winners’ circle is Alicia D. Williams. ...

Charlotte’s True Crime Writers

My introduction to the genre of true crime took place while I was still in high school.  I decided to read Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood after I saw the 1967 film adaptation of Capote’s book.  Since I had already seen the film. I had a pretty good sense of what to expect from the book, but it still disturbed me. It wasn’t just Capote’s account of the murders of the four members of the Clutter family that got to me; what troubled me the most was Capote’s ability to bring his readers...

Labor Novels Set in the Charlotte Region

Given that Labor Day is nearly upon us, I have decided to focus this Storied Charlotte blog post on labor novels that take place in the Charlotte region.  Not that many decades ago, the Charlotte area was known not for its banks but rather for its textile mills.  I am reminded of this fact on a daily basis, for the house where I live started off as housing for the textile workers employed by Atherton Cotton Mills in what is now known as South End.  Working conditions in our region’s...

Sandy Hill’s Charlotte Mysteries

Since launching my Storied Charlotte blog in February of this year, I have become increasingly aware of the many Charlotte authors who once worked as reporters or editors for The Charlotte Observer.   I have featured a number of these former Observer employees on my blog, including Tommy Tomlinson, Dannye Romine Powell, Patricia Cornwell, Jodie Jaffe, and Kathleen Purvis.  With this week’s blog post, I am adding Sandy Hill to this list. 

Hill moved to Charlotte in the...

The Love of Baseball Stories

When I first moved to Charlotte in 1984, I lived just a few blocks from Crockett Park where the Charlotte O’s (the city’s minor league baseball team at the time) played their home games.  The park featured an aging wooden stadium that looked like it belonged in a Norman Rockwell painting, and I fell in love with it.  I purchased season tickets and attended almost every home game.  I didn’t care that much about the outcome of the games; I just liked the ambiance.  This immersive...

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...