Decatur-ful Townsend Prize Nominations

Amanda Kyle Williams

The ten finalists for the 2012 Townsend Prize for Fiction, awarded biennially to an outstanding novel or short-story collection published by a Georgia writer during that biennium, were announced this week, and Decatur is well represented.

Thomas Mullen

For starters, The Georgia Center for the Book, one of the prize’s sponsoring organizations, is hosted and sponsored by the DeKalb County Public Library, headquartered on Sycamore Street. And among the finalists are Decatur folks Amanda Kyle Williams, for The Stranger You Seek, and Thomas Mullen, for The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers. 

Here is the full list of finalists (and a great set of reading recommendations). Are there other Decatur connections here that I missed? Fill us in!

    • Daniel Black for Perfect Peace, St Martin’s Press
    • Lynn Cullen for Reign Of Madness, G.P. Putnam’s Sons
    • Ann Hite for Ghost On Black Mountain, Gallery Books
    • Joshilyn Jackson for Backseat Saints, Grand Central Publishing
    • Collin Kelley for Remain In Light, Vanilla Heart Publishing
    • Thomas Mullen for The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers, Random House
    • Andrew Plattner for A Marriage Of Convenience, BkMk Press, University of Missouri-Kansas City
    • Josh Russell for My Bright Midnight, Louisiana State University Press
    • Joseph Skibell for A Curable Romantic, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
    • Amanda Kyle Williams for The Stranger You Seek, Bantam Books
Besides the Georgia Center for the Book, other Townsend Award sponsors are the Southern Academy for Literary Arts and Scholarly Research at Georgia Perimeter College and The Chattahoochee Review. Selected by a jury of the sponsoring organizations, a panel considered over forty books published by Georgia writers in the past two years. A board of judges awards the final prize, which consists of a $2,000 award and a silver commemorative tray.

The Prize will be awarded to the winner selected from the list of ten finalists at a ceremony on Thursday, April 26, at the Day Room of the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Ann Beattie, author of Mrs. Nixon and Walks With Men, who currently serves as the Edgar Allan Poe Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia, will give the keynote address at the event.

Created in 1981, the Prize was named for Jim Townsend, the founding editor of Atlanta magazine, the associate editor of Atlanta Weekly Magazine (of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution), and an early mentor to such Georgia writers as Pat Conroy, Terry Kay, Bill Diehl, and Anne Rivers Siddons. Previous winners of the Townsend Prize include Kathryn Stockett for The Help, Ha Jin for The Bridegroom: Stories, and Alice Walker for The Color Purple.

The Secret Life of My Pet-Sitter

It used to be a familiar sight around the neighborhood: Amanda with a fistful of leashes attached to a pack of happily trotting pups; Amanda on her scooter pulling up to a house with a pocketful of doggie treats, greeted by a joyful barking of “She’s here! She’s here!”; Amanda sitting on a front step with a contented, purring kitty velcroed to her lap.

Then one day last year, as my next-door neighbors and I were both planning to be out of town at the same time, we were surprised, then dismayed, then completely delighted when Amanda told us that she wouldn’t be in the pet-sitting biz any more (What!?). The reason was that she had just signed a major three-book contract with Random House (What!?!?).

One day she’s our favorite neighborhood pet-sitter, the next she’s a publishing rockstar. It was a goosebump moment.

Continue reading “The Secret Life of My Pet-Sitter”