FOOD CHAIN: When writing a memoir, “You can’t see the connections [between events in your life] until you’re reflecting on them retrospectively,” says musician and author Freda Love Smith. “The lines in my book are drawn by food and recipes. That’s the thing that connects the dots.”

Rock drummer Freda Love Smith pens a memoir with recipes

When Smith’s eldest son, Jonah, was in his last year of high school, she decided to give him a series of cooking lessons so he’d be self-sufficient when he left home. Those tutorials sparked the idea for a memoir that deftly stitches together family life, stories from her stints as the drummer in The Blake Babies, Antenna and The Mysteries of Life, and personal food-related memories.

LITERARY TOOLS: “I think it’s more friendly … than a lot of conferences,” says N.C. Writers’ Network Executive Director Ed Southern. “The purpose of our fall conference is to help writers produce those good manuscripts and get them into the hands of the right publisher or the right agent.” Pictured, the network’s 2013 Fall Conference in Wilmington.

North Carolina Writers’ Network celebrates 30th anniversar­y at fall conference in Asheville

“We try to honor the local literary of whatever locale we happen to be in that year,” says Nort Carolin Writers’ Network Executive Director Ed Southern. The three-day fall conference rotates locations throughout the state and this year it returns to Asheville, taking place at the DoubleTree by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore Friday to Sunday, Nov. 20-22.

SHARED INSPIRATION: “As a white kid growing up playing guitar, I was as influenced by the music of Jimi Hendrix as Jimmy Page,” says author and musician David Gilbert. “I don’t think you can separate interesting cultural forms and innovation, which everybody can do. Everybody should have access to the music of Duke Ellington and the dance of Josephine Baker.”

Author David Gilbert challenges racial assumption­s in modern music

“The idea that black people and white people have distinct music and culture has its roots in racist thinking.”,” says author David Gilbert. It’s a concept he delves into in The Product of Our Souls: Ragtime, Race, and the Birth of the Manhattan Musical Marketplace. Gilbert holds a book launch and discussion at Malaprop’s Saturday, Nov. 14.

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.