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The literary cannon has lots of examples of children stranded on islands, from "Lord of the Flies" to "Peter Pan" and beyond. Atlanta-based author Laurel Snyder offers her take on the idea in her new novel "Orphan Island" from Walden Pond Press.

"The goal was to write a book where there were no grown ups," Snyder tells "City Lights" host Lois Reitzes. "But counter to something like 'Lord of the Flies,' I wanted it to be a kind of utopian world where the children really to care for each other."

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Every once in a while we need a change in setting to get a fresh perspective and, hopefully, to be inspired. Enter “the retreat,” a tried and true way to get away from the daily grind.

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It isn’t reserved for just the office worker though, artists often use retreats to improve upon their craft. In this edition of “Writer to Reader,” best-selling novelist Joshilyn Jackson explains how.

Jackson goes on three to five retreats per book, typically with a group of close confidants.

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Tuesday on "Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burress":

Polly Buxton

The acclaimed author Pat Conroy endeared himself to many readers, perhaps southerners most of all. His love for Charleston and the Low Country provided ongoing inspiration for his work. Shortly before he died last year, Conroy wrote the forward for “The Cigar Factory: A Novel of Charleston” by Atlanta-native Michele Moore.

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Ga. Festival Celebrates The 'Lost' Southern Authors

Mar 24, 2017
Associated Press

Georgia State University assistant professor of English Andy Rogers wants people to remember more than Faulkner, O’Connor or Williams when they think of Southern writers. So he organized Revival: Lost Southern Voices Festival, which aims to do just that.

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On this edition of "Writer to Reader," novelist Joshilyn Jackson looks at what’s in store for the festival.

Social Media Is Changing How Authors Go on Tour

Feb 8, 2017
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Once upon a time the cross-country book tour was a regular occurrence for published authors. Now, those tours are reserved for “huge sellers who are also excellent public speakers or have multiple platforms that are going to attract a lot of media attention,” best-selling novelist Joshilyn Jackson says.

On this edition of “Writer to Reader,” Jackson gives an overview of how her experience touring has changed over the years, and how tours have changed for the publishing industry as a whole.

Gift Guide: Local Author’s Top Southern Lit Picks

Dec 6, 2016
Kevin Rinker / WABE

Best-selling novelist Joshilyn Jackson is very connected to southern literature. In addition to the South functioning as the setting in her novels, she frequents local bookstores and works alongside area writers. For those looking to give the gift of reading this holiday season, Jackson has her top picks for books written by southerners.

Alison Guillory / WABE

One of the region’s most audacious voices in queer culture has something new hot off the presses.

WUSSY was founded in 2015 as an online magazine for the southeastern LGBTQ community. It focuses on art, nightlife, and culture and through interviews, profiles and numerous opinion pieces, aims to be an outspoken voice in the queer community. That voice just found a new platform with the publication of Wussy Volume 1, the magazine’s first print edition.

Volume 1 is called "The Body Issue."

Joan Marcus / Courtesy of Atlantic Records

When best-selling novelist Joshilyn Jackson visited New York City just two days after the presidential election to meet with her agent, editor, publisher and others involved in getting her latest book published, she used part of the trip to see the Broadway play "Hamilton."

Jackson says, “‘Hamilton’ is a ground-breaking play by any measure, but it was especially meaningful and sobering and affecting in the wake of an election where how we’re going to treat our immigrants has been a huge point of contention.”

Author Has Mixed Feelings About NaNoWriMo Challenge

Oct 26, 2016
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When it comes to writing a quality novel, best-selling author Joshilyn Jackson believes you need to take your time. Nonetheless, she is planning to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November. In this edition of “Writer to Reader” on “City Lights,” Jackson takes a look at what drives some people to speed write 50,000 words in one month and what the end result might be.

The Dangers Of Planning Dinner With Your Heroes

Sep 21, 2016
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From time to time, best-selling novelist Joshilyn Jackson will play “The Imaginary Dinner Party” game with her friends. For the uninitiated, the game is simple: You pick three of your heroes, living or dead, whom you’d like to have over for a dinner party and postulate how it would turn out.

During her most recent engagement in the game, Jackson decided on Flannery O’Connor, Harper Lee and Carol Churchill as her guests.

“But truthfully,” Jackson says, “I wouldn’t go to that party, even if I was the host.”

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When best-selling novelist Joshilyn Jackson first walked into prison, she was scared. This was despite the fact that she would be able to leave any time.

Jackson was there as a volunteer for the nonprofit Reforming Arts, which works to provide a liberal arts education to women in prison. On this edition of “Writer to Reader,” Jackson shares the reservations she had about the possibility of teaching inmates.

Looking back on her lesson plan, Jackson says that her book choice, “To Kill A Mockingbird” was “the worst, best choice.”

Alison Guillory

Best-selling novelist Joshilyn Jackson is not afraid to describe herself as “redemption-obsessed,” nor is she afraid to describe herself as a pragmatist who does not take premonitions seriously.

“When I have feelings about things or dreams or intuitions, I attribute them to bad clams,” Jackson explains.

That is, until she read a call for volunteers to help serve in prison.

In this edition of "Writer to Reader," Jackson talks about what drove her to follow up on the volunteer opportunity and the results of her actions.

Fred Hayes / Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC

One of Atlanta’s most celebrated and hard-working playwrights has officially broken into television.

Topher Payne is the award-winning playwright behind "Evelyn in Purgatory," which was recently published by Samuel French. His play "Perfect Arrangement" was produced off-Broadway at Primary Stages last fall. And now, "My Summer Prince," his first TV movie, is premiering on The Hallmark Channel on Saturday. 

How Novelists Stay Busy When They Aren’t Writing

Aug 3, 2016
Felipe Dana / Associated Press

When novelist Joshilyn Jackson finally turned her book “Origin Story” in to her publisher she could see relaxing summer days right around the corner.

“I had this giddy, high week of prancing about being generally disgusting and full of myself,” Jackson admits.

Mary Claire Kelly / WABE

When best-selling author Joshilyn Jackson started writing her latest book, “Origin Story,” she had William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and the biblical story about Leah and Rachel on her mind, not race. Now that she’s written it, however, race seems to be the main theme running through the novel.

In this installment of “Writer to Reader,” Jackson explores how the national conversation surrounding race and recent police shootings of unarmed black men has shaped her novel.

Kyra Semien / WABE

Last time best-selling author Joshilyn Jackson joined "City Lights" for “Writer to Reader,” she was up against a deadline for her latest book, “Origin Story,” had asked her publisher for an extension, and was setting out to revise a lot of her book so the end would be “present and surprising and inevitable from word one onwards.”

After using her month-long extension to its fullest, Jackson has finally turned in “Origin Story” and is back to discuss why she was not proud of her initial draft of the book.

Jason Hales

Heavy metal music blares in a basement theater, and a man steps to a microphone and bellows at the audience "Are you ready to Write Club?"

That uproarious greeting is how WRITE CLUB Atlanta begins their show each month. The man yelling is host Nicholas Tecosky, and he and WABE producer Myke Johns are celebrating five years of this combative reading series which has put almost 200 local Atlanta writers onstage.

Mary Claire Kelly / WABE

With the deadline still in front of her, best-selling author Joshilyn Jackson continues to work toward the end of her newest novel, “Origin Story.” As part of that process, Jackson had two colleagues read the manuscript so she could get an idea of how the book would ultimately be received. While the reviews were generally positive, one sentiment stuck with her.

Hans Pennink / Associated Press

A few weeks ago, best-selling author Joshilyn Jackson heard a poem, Katherine Perry's "Baby Picture," that got her thinking about life.

“It 'poem haunted' me, stuck,” she says.

On "Writer to Reader," Jackson explains that the poem not only had her contemplating the finiteness of life, but also thinking about a novel she had read called “High Drama In Fabulous Toledo” by Lily James. The book compares life to a cafeteria line. Once a decision is made it can be difficult, if not impossible, to go back.

Frank Knaack (cropped) /

If you have ever forgotten the title and author of a book, it can be an exhaustive process figuring out how to recover that information. From consulting with friends to heading to your local bookstore, results can vary.

On this installment of “Writer to Reader,” novelist Joshilyn Jackson looks at what it takes to rediscover a lost book.

Gerry Broome / Assocaited Press

In response to North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which requires transgender people to use the bathroom connected to the sex on their birth certificate, musicians, businesses and cities outside the state are boycotting. For best-selling author Joshilyn Jackson, one notable boycotter is Washington state-based writer Sherman Alexie.

The Danger Of Giving A Novel Too Much Room To Change

Apr 27, 2016
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After taking time off from writing to promote her newest novel, best-selling author Joshilyn Jackson is back behind the keyboard with a deadline looming seven weeks away. “I feel like it’s coming too fast,” she says. “It’s coming at me and with bad intentions.”

In this week’s installment of “Writer To Reader” Jackson shares where she is in the writing process of her next novel, tentatively titled “Origin Story.”

Helen (cropped) /

Earlier in this series, best-selling author Joshilyn Jackson encouraged listeners to judge a book solely by its cover, buy it and read it. On this edition of “Writer To Reader,” Jackson reports back with her experience after picking a book based on how it looked on the bookstore shelf. What she got was unexpected.

How To Liven Up Book Club … By Inviting The Author

Apr 13, 2016
lukas.b0 (cropped) /

If you have a book club, you are probably used to the usual routine ... some small talk, snacks and/or drinks and a discussion about what you read for the gathering. One way to change things up is to invite the author of the book you read to attend the meeting.

This week on “Writer to Reader,” novelist Joshilyn Jackson offers her suggestions on both finding an author to invite as well as convincing him or her to come to your book club.

Adjusting To Life, Questions After A Book Release

Apr 1, 2016
Sarah Gilbert (cropped) /

It is time for best-selling author Joshilyn Jackson to slow down. After launching “The Opposite of Everyone” last month, her book tour and events are finally over and she can shift back to writing her next novel. While Jackson is ready to focus on a different book, many others are not done checking in on her latest release.

“People are asking me how it’s going,” Jackson says. “And they mean one of two things, sales and reviews. Usually both.”

Jordan Strauss / Invision/Associated Press

There’s a game that best-selling author Joshilyn Jackson likes to play with her readers. When she releases a book, she asks her fans to decide which actors would play which characters if that book were turned into a movie.

As Jackson explains on “Writer to Reader,” creativity is a must when it comes to casting. “If you have a white female from 20 to 30 [years old], of course Jennifer Lawrence can play it,” she says. But casting the greatest actors of the day is just too easy.

Courtesy of Jyll Thomas

The things passed on from generation to generation aren't always precious heirlooms. Sometimes they're quirks of personality or addiction or, in the case of Atlanta writer Jyll Thomas' story, a slightly tacky sweater.

In Thomas' "The Christmas Sweater," a troubled young woman looks back on the perspective she gained by sharing her struggles with her beloved grandmother.

Wes Browning / Sema Films

Best-selling author Joshilyn Jackson launched her book “The Opposite Of Everyone” on Feb. 18 at the Decatur Library. Despite having published seven novels, this was only the third book launch Jackson has thrown.

“I can’t do it every book. It’s like a wedding. Only soap opera people can go to that many weddings and not run mad,” she explained.

In this edition of “Writer To Reader” on “City Lights,” Jackson elucidated her role in making a book launch successful.

Kim Tyo-Dickerson /


Last time on “Writer to Reader,” best-selling author Joshilyn Jackson gave an in-depth look at the editing process that goes on after a manuscript is turned in to a publisher. That was just part of what happens during the months between a manuscript being turned in and it becoming a book.

The second half of the process is all about generating buzz. This all takes place in what Jackson calls “The Machine,” her phrase that includes a publisher’s art, marketing, publicity and other departments working to make a book’s release successful.