Written by Mollie Lund
Photos courtesy of CMLF
The Carolina Mountain Literary Festival has celebrated the unique history and vibrant literary culture of North Carolina’s Southern Appalachians since it was founded in 2006. Each year the festival is held in the picturesque town of Burnsville, NC, a short forty-minute drive from Asheville. With an express focus on human connection, the event works to bring together literature lovers of all ages in order to foster a dialogue between authors and readers. The festival also raises awareness for significant literary works from smaller presses, with a great deal of focus on regional writers who are native to the Southern Appalachians and North Carolina more broadly.
The event will welcome New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Jason Mott as this year’s keynote speaker. Mott’s most recent novel, Hell Of A Book, has received countless national and international awards, including the 2021 National Book Award, the 2021 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, and the 2022 Maya Angelou Book Award Shortlist. Hell Of A Book is a breathtaking work of fiction that weaves together three seemingly disparate narratives via lyrical prose and magical realism in order to examine pertinent issues such as racism, police violence, and the hidden costs exacted upon Black Americans and America as a whole.
In addition to Jason Mott, the festival will feature 29 novelists, poets, memoirists, and documentarians from across the region. This includes local favorites such as Maia Toll (Herbiary, Crystallary and Bestiary), Dr. Benjamin Gilmer (The Other Dr. Gilmer), Hope Larson (A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel), and Sebastian Matthews (Beyond Repair: Living in a Fractured State).
Participating authors fall into one of five genre categories: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Memoir, Children’s/Young Adult. The festival will also offer five low-cost workshops, one for Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, and Memoir, and one for Playwriting, which will be in collaboration with The Parkway Playhouse’s first annual Appalachian Playwriting Festival. These workshops will be run by authors participating in the festival. Click here (https://cmlitfest.org/registration/) to sign up for a workshop or Jason Mott’s Keynote Event.
The Carolina Mountain Literary Festival will also include over 50 free author presentations. These presentations range from short readings to detailed discussions of the writing and research process and oftentimes provide opportunities for the audience to ask questions.
This year’s festival will take place from September 7th through September 9th. Check out the Complete Festival Schedule (https://cmlitfest.org/2023schedule/) before scheduling your visit. The schedule is subject to change, so check back for updates as the festival date draws near.
Follow the Carolina Mountain Literary Festival on Instagram @cmlitfest. Festival organizers regularly post overviews of the authors that will be featured at the festival alongside summaries of their most recent work.