Longings, Passions, and Heartaches

Historic DeKalb Courthouse presented by Creative Flame Media

Sunday, 12:00-12:45

Three novelists take on complicated and very real situations in their debut novels. In Leesa Cross-Smith's Whiskey & Ribbons, grief unites two characters into unexpected intimacy. Fire Sermon, by Jamie Quatro, traces a woman's descent into nearly unbearable personal yearning. And Kathryn Schwille, in What Luck, This Life, follows a collection of Texas townspeople in the aftermath of a national tragedy with local consequences. The characters in these fine novels each grapple with the loss, desperation, longing, and regret that life throws at them, and they each find a way to revelation that is uniquely theirs.


Leesa Cross-Smith


A PEN Open Book Award Nominee, Leesa Cross-Smith has been a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and Iowa Short Fiction Award. She is the author of the short story collection Every Kiss a War and lives in Louisville, KY.

Jamie Quatro


Jamie Quatro's debut novel, Fire Sermon, is an Indie Next pick, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick, and a New York Times Editors' Choice. Quatro's debut collection, I Want To Show You More, was a New York Times Notable Book and an NPR Best Book. Quatro's work has appeared in Tin House, Ploughshares, McSweeney's, The Kenyon Review, VQR, and Agni. Her stories are anthologized in The O.Henry Prize Stories 2013, The Story and Its Writer (ed. Ann Charters), and the 2018 Pushcart Prize Anthology. A Contributing Editor at Oxford American, Quatro teaches in the master of fine arts program at Sewanee, The University of the South, and lives with her husband and four children in Lookout Mountain, Georgia.

Kathryn Schwille


Kathryn Schwille’s fiction has appeared in New Letters, Memorious, Crazyhorse, West Branch, Sycamore Review and other literary journals. Her stories have twice received Special Mention in the Pushcart Prize anthology. She was an award-winning newspaper reporter before moving to North Carolina to become an editor at the Charlotte Observer. A graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, she lives with her husband in Charlotte, NC.


Kate Whitman

Kate Whitman is VP of Author and Family Programs at the Atlanta History Center and curates the popular Author Program series, which welcomes 50-60 bestselling authors of fiction and nonfiction to Atlanta each year.