HERE'S HOPING: "Almost everybody in the book is a decent human being doing the best they can," says Ron Rash of his new novel, Above the Waterfall, his most optimistic book to date. Interestingly, despite more than a dozen drafts to fine-tune the language, Rash says he never rereads his own novels after publication.

Ron Rash’s new novel offers poetry, optimism

This sentence appears in the preface to Above the Waterfall, the newest novel by Ron Rash: “I watch last light lift off level land.” It’s just one of thousands of slight, deftly crafted lines. But there, before the story even begins, Rash slows the pace and announces himself, not just as a craftsman of rich, dark Southern fiction but also as a poet. He’ll present the novel at Malaprop’s on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Photo by Joe Worthem

Exploring the modern Western with bestsellin­g crime novelist Ace Atkins

New York Times bestselling author Ace Atkins is set to release the fifth book in his Quinn Colson series, The Redeemers, this month. Atkins has written 17 novels to date, and has been deemed by bestselling author Michael Connelly as “one of the best crime writers at work today.” Atkins reads and signs The Redeemers at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe on Monday, Aug. 3.

NEW WORLD: Local YA author Megan Shepherd's newest book, The Cage, is set in an alien zoo whose inhabitants are abducted teens. Photo courtesy of the author

Author Megan Shepherd launches one series and sells another

Brevard native and best-selling YA novelist Megan Shepherd, the author of the Victorian Gothic Madman’s Daughter series, recently announced that she had sold The Secret Horses of Briar Hill, a middle-grade fantasy in the vein of The Secret Garden. The book had sold at auction, meaning that editors at several publishing houses bid for the chance to take it on.

NESSIE WHISPERER: "The monster in the loch is everyone's internal monster," says Asheville-based author Sara Gruen. "What you do with it is what defines you." Her new novel is set in World War II near Loch Ness and deals with monsters real and imaginary. Photo by Tasha Thomas

Local author Sara Gruen pens an all-consuming new novel

Author Sara Gruen gets lost in her books. “I wasn’t able to immerse myself completely with Water for Elephants,” she says of her 2006 best-seller that became a film starring Reese Witherspoon. “The type of circus I was writing about no longer existed.” For her new book, Gruen spent a total of five weeks in the British Isles, researching, absorbing the culture and immersing herself — literally.

SHORE THING: The Canoe revisits the Titanic disaster from two points of view: a widow on board the ocean liner and a teenage boy living near the Chesapeake Bay.

Michelle Baker publishes non-traditional novel The Canoe

Local author Michelle Baker writes poems that sometimes reach 15 or 20 pages in length. But when one hit the 40-page mark, “I thought, ‘This isn’t going to stop anytime soon,’” she says. That poem grew and morphed and eventually became The Canoe, a novel that weaves together two lives touched by the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. Baker gives a reading and signing at Malaprop’s on Saturday, Nov. 15

Ann Patchett: A woman on a mission-attachment0

Ann Patchett: A woman on a mission

Not only is Ann Patchett an acclaimed novelist, essayist, and nonfiction writer, she’s also an international spokesperson for the independent, locally-owned bookstore. At a reading hosted by Malaprop’s and staged at the Lipinski Auditorium at UNCA on Tuesday, Nov. 5, an impressive crowd gathered to hear Patchett present her latest literary offering. “This is the Story of a Happy Marriage” is a collection of thoughtful, beautifully written essays about life, love, writing and books. Photo by Kevin Mann.