The Georgia Writers Association is thrilled to announce Lynn Cullen as the keynote speaker for the upcoming Red Clay Writers Conference. Cullen’s latest release, Mrs. Poe, is an editor’s pick for the Historical Novels Review. Named a 2013 Best Read by NPR and a Best Book 2013 by Atlanta Magazine, the novel “examines the fall of Edgar Allen Poe through the eyes of poet Francis Osgood.”
The author’s presentation for the conference is titled Picture This: The Making of an Historical Novel. “I’ll show how after getting the idea for the story during a time of great personal trauma, I pulled together various images and historical tidbits, along with my travels to my main characters’ places of work and play, to construct my novel, Mrs. Poe,” said Cullen. “I hope to demonstrate how visiting the settings of all the scenes in my book and being open to surprises has influenced the story.”
The book, which came at a dark time in her writing career, “went on to become–miraculously enough—a national bestseller,” says Cullen, “and is an example of how when a door closes, a window opens.”
The theme for this year’s conference is “Bringing History to Life Through Literature.” When asked her thoughts about the comeback historical fiction is currently making, Cullen said, “Books that deal with American and/or more recent history are the hottest right at the moment. The pendulum may swing back to more ancient history at any time. It just takes one groundbreaking hit to start a trend.”
Cullen mentions another trend that probably boosted the success of Mrs. Poe. “Many novels being written from the perspective of a famous person’s wife or lover, like The Paris Wife, Loving Frank, and The Aviator’s Wife” have been popular recently. “I didn’t consciously try to tap into that when I started Mrs. Poe, but was personally interested in the point of view of women who have been behind the scenes in history. I always look for women in history to write about because, being a woman, naturally I better understand how they tick. I’m as much interested in the psychology of my characters as the history within which they operate.”
A previous novel by Cullen, Reign of Madness, about Juana the Mad, daughter of the Spanish Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand was chosen as a 2011 Best of the South selection by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was a 2012 Townsend Prize finalist. She is also the author of The Creation of Eve, named among the best fiction books of 2010 by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She has written numerous award-winning books for children, including the young adult novel I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter, which was a 2007 Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection and an ALA Best Book of 2008.
Currently, Cullen is working on a novel about the women in Mark Twain’s life. “He’s much more complicated than the homespun humorist that he seems” according to Cullen. “The women in his life—his secretary, his wife, his daughters—had a tiger by the tail.”
Now a resident of Atlanta, Cullen grew up in Ohio and attended the University of Indiana at Bloomington. After her move to Atlanta, she studied with Tom McHaney at Georgia State University.
Since 2009, the Red Clay Writers Conference has brought together hundreds of writers from beginners to national best-sellers for a full-day of workshops that reaffirm and renew the craft of writing. This year’s conference will take place in lovely Savannah, GA – a city rich in history and steeped in the arts.
Make plans to join us on Saturday, October 25, 2014, at the Coastal Georgia Center from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The conference will feature four, 75-minute panels, six, 45-minute panels, and manuscript critiques. A buffet lunch is included in the price of admission. Speakers include: Ann Hite, Renea Winchester, Glenn T. Eskew, Dr. Marc Jolley, James Lough, Jonathan Rabb, Kevin McCarey, Zach Powers, Gino Orlandi, and Joseph Schwartzburt. More speakers will be announced soon. For more information, go to www.RedClayConference.org.