“Write about what you don’t know about what you know,” instructed Eudora Welty. But how exactly do you dig deep into the familiar to create an extraordinary experience for your readers?

Veteran novelists and professors—and husband and wife—Carrie Brown and John Gregory Brown talk about mining your own geographical and personal history as writers, as well as tools and techniques for finding out more about what you already think you know about your place—or places—in the world.  

Virginia Pye, author of River of Dust, will moderate the discussion about anchoring your writing through environment and experience. The second half of the panel welcomes questions from the audience.

Recap by Kris Spisak

Thursday, April 24, 2014
6:30-8:30 p.m., with complimentary hors d’oeuvres
The Broadberry (note the new location we’re trying out for April’s show!)
2729 W. Broad Street
Ample parking available in the Children’s Museum parking lot across the street, on street, and in the lot adjacent to the Broadberry

$10 in advance, $12 at the door, $5 students




jgbrownBorn and raised in New Orleans, John Gregory Brown is the author of the novels Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, The Wrecked, Blessed Body of Shelton Lafleur, and Audubon’s Watch. His honors include a Lyndhurst Prize, the Lillian Smith Award, the John Steinbeck Award, and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Book of the Year Award. He is the Julia Jackson Nichols Professor of English at Sweet Briar College and lives in Virginia. He and his wife, the novelist Carrie Brown, have three children.

 author-carrie-brown-headshot for web 2Carrie Brown is the author of six novels—most recently The Last First Day—and a collection of short stories. She has won many awards for her work, including a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the Barnes and Noble Discover Award, the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, The Great Lakes Book Award, and, twice, the Library of Virginia Award for fiction. Her short fiction has appeared in journals including One StoryGlimmer TrainThe Georgia Review, and The Oxford American. She taught for many years at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, where she lives with her husband, the writer John Gregory Brown. She is now Distinguished Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Hollins University.


Virginia Pye’s debut novel, River of Dust, was an Indie Next Pick for May, 2013. Her award-winning short stories have been published in numerous literary magazines, including The North American Review, Failbetter, The Baltimore Review and Tampa Review. Virginia holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence where she studied with Joan Silber and Allan Gurganus. At Wesleyan University, Annie Dillard was her first mentor. She taught writing at New York University, The University of Pennsylvania, and was chair of James River Writers for three years and still serves on the Advisory Board. She has received fellowships to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Acadia Summer Arts Program, and attended the Tin House’s Writer’s Conference in 2011.

The following day, April 25, Carrie and John Gregory Brown will lead Learning to See: A Master Class for Writers on the Art and Practice of Looking. Learn more.

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