Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Carolyn Haines 2010 Harper Lee Award Recipient

Carolyn Haines of Semmes, AL has been named the 2010 recipient of the Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer of the Year. Haines will receive the award at the Alabama Writers Symposium in Monroeville on April 30 at the annual luncheon. The conference will meet April 29-May 1.

The Alabama Writers’ Forum, a partnership program of the Alabama State Council on the Arts, coordinates the process to select the Harper Lee Award recipient annually from nominations from the field. The honor is presented annually by Alabama Southern Community College at the Symposium.

“We are delighted with the selection of Carolyn Haines for the 2010 Harper Lee Award,” said James A. Buford Jr., president of the Alabama Writers’ Forum Board of Directors. “On April 30, she will join twelve other distinguished writers whose contributions to the literary arts follow in the tradition of Harper Lee.”

“I’m deeply honored to be the recipient of the 2010 Harper Lee Award,” said Haines. “To Kill a Mockingbird had a tremendous impact on me as a young reader and helped shape my destiny to become a writer. Fine writing is part of the Alabama heritage, and I am proud to be included among the winners of this award, which bears the name of an author I so greatly admire.”

Haines is the author of ten books in the popular Sarah Booth Delaney Bones mystery series. Her latest, Bone Appétit, will be released in July by Minotaur Books.

She has received critical acclaim for her mystery series as well as for her stand-alone titles. Fever Moon, an historical thriller released in 2007, was a Book Sense notable book, and Penumbra, set in 1952 Mississippi, was named one of the top five mysteries of 2006 by Library Journal, a distinction given to Hallowed Bones in 2004.

Her first anthology of short fiction, Delta Blues, will be released by Tyrus Books on May 1. The book includes a foreword by Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman and short stories by authors including John Grisham, James Lee Burke, and Charlaine Harris. The stories focus on the Mississippi Delta blues, a unique musical form that originated in that region, and a crime or noir element.

Her first non-fiction book, My Mother’s Witness: The Peggy Morgan Story, tells the story of a woman who testified against Byron Dela Beckwith, a white supremacist who murdered civil rights worker Medgar Evers.

Along with Rebecca Barrett, Haines edited a collection of memories about Mobile author Eugene Walter, titled Moments with Eugene. Touched and Summer of the Redeemers, two general fiction novels, have been reissued in trade paperback.

Haines received a 2009 Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence and a Literature Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts in 1999.

She received a B.A. in journalism from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1974 and an M.A. in English from the University of South Alabama in 1985.

Haines, a native of Lucedale, Mississippi, makes her home in Semmes, Alabama. She teaches the graduate and undergraduate fiction writing classes at the University of South Alabama, where she is an assistant professor and Fiction Coordinator. An animal activist, she works to help educate the public about the need to spay and neuter pets.

The Harper Lee Award is made to a living, nationally recognized Alabama writer who has made a significant, lifelong contribution to Alabama letters. It includes a cash prize and a bronze sculpture by Frank Fleming of the Monroe County Courthouse clock tower. The courthouse is a setting for Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

Congratulations! Well done!

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