1. Joel Chandler Harris: Born in Eatonton, GA in 1848, he was an associate editor of the Atlanta Constitution, and is best remembered for writing the “Uncle Remus” stories that formed the basis for the movie Song of the South.
2. James Dickey: Poet and novelist, Dickey was born in Atlanta in 1923. Probably best known for Deliverance, his 1970 novel that was made into a movie starring Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox and featuring the tune “Dueling Banjos,” making banjo music popular and giving Martin Mull the idea for “Dueling Tubas.” He died in 1997.
3. Iris Johansen: like me, a “damn Yankee” who moved to Georgia from St. Louis and hasn’t gone back. From what I understand, we’re practically neighbors in the northwest suburbs of Atlanta. She started with contemporary romance, switched to historical romance, from which she moved to suspense and crime fiction. Didn’t start writing until her kids left for college.
4. Margaret Johnson-Hodge: Author of African American romance novels who also lives in the suburbs of Atlanta. I had the good fortune to meet her and asked her about rewrites. She pointed to a table with her books and said “Each one of those books has been written and rewritten eight times.” A really lovely person.
5. Terry Kay: From Royston, Georgia. He’s probably best known for his book To Dance With The White Dog, which was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie starring Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. His most recent book is The Mirror Man.
6. Anne Rivers Siddons: Currently lives in Charleston, SC, but born in Atlanta and raised in Fairburn. You can’t get any more Atlanta than Peachtree Road, her 1988 novel which Pat Conroy calls “the Southern novel for our generation.” Her first book, Heartbreak Hotel, was made into the movie Heart of Dixie, with Ally Sheedy, Virginia Madsen, and Phoebe Cates. Stephen King considers her The House Next Door as one of the finest horror novels of the 20th Century.
7. Diana Palmer: One of Mary’s favorite authors, Diana was born Susan Eloise Spaeth in Cuthbert, Georgia. A romance author, she’s written numerous novels as Diana Palmer, Susan S. Kyle, and Diana Blayne. She has a number of series, many of which are set in the West. (Those are Mary’s favorites.)
8. Karin Slaughter: Born in a small town in south Georgia, she lives in Atlanta. She became an international sensation with Blindsighted, one of her Grant County Mysteries that feature pediatrician/coroner Sara Linton. A more recent series features FBI agent Will Trent and his partner, Faith Mitchell. She brought both series together in 2009’s Undone (called Genesis internationally). Widely known as the person who invented the term “investigoogling,” meaning “to research something deeper than just a quick search.” I started reading her books when I was recovering from the stroke. If you haven’t read her, you should.
9. Stuart Woods: I was surprised to find out that Stuart was born in Manchester, Georgia, and graduated from the University of Georgia. He started out as an adman in New York City before moving to England. After three years there, he moved to Ireland and started writing. He has numerous series, including the Stone Barrington, Will Lee, Holly Barker, Ed Eagle, and Rick Barron novels. He is a yachtsman and an instrument-rated pilot.
10. Mary Schmich: A columnist for the Chicago Tribune and author of the comic strip Brenda Starr, which she wrote from 1985 through its end in 2011. It came as a surprise that she was born in Savannah, Georgia. in 1997, she wrote a column called “Advice, like youth, probably wasted on the young,” which started with the advice, “Wear sunscreen.” It was widely and erroneously reported as being the MIT commencement speech delivered by Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut himself enjoyed the column, saying “What she wrote was funny, wise and charming, so I would have been proud had the words been mine.”
(Thanks, as always, to Wikipedia, and more than a little investigoogling.)