WORKING CLASS HERO: Appalachian native, storied balladeer and labor organizer Ella May Wiggins played a central role in the Loray Mill strike of 1929. Her life, legacy and untimely murder is examined in a new book authored by her great-granddaughter, Haw Creek Elementary teacher Kristina Horton. Image courtesy of Kristina Horton.

Working Class Hero: a Q&A with author Kristina Horton on “The Martyr of Loray Mill”

In July 2015, Kristina Horton — great-granddaughter of famed labor activist Ella May Wiggins — published Martyr of Loray Mill, a biography of her forebear. Xpress spoke with Horton ahead of her reading at Malaprop’s on Sunday, Jan. 17, to discuss Wiggins’ life, the meaning of her struggles and why it remains important to remember Ella May’s sacrifice.

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.

EAT THAT: "My love of food comes through eating it," says author Simran Sethi. "I have gardens, I know how to cook, but what I really love is to eat. And I don't think I'm alone." Sethi's latest book, which includes interviews with several Ashevilleans, encourages everyday consumers to partake in food-supply chains that preserve biodiversity and terroir.

Simran Sethi revisits Asheville’s ‘grain-to-loaf’ wheat movement during book release events

Sethi’s book warns readers that a slow erosion of food biodiversity could affect beloved staples like coffee, chocolate, wine and bread. The author returns to Asheville, where she interviewed several members of local food-supply chains, for two tasting events during her book release tour.

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.

NEW EDITION: A-B Tech's student literary journal The Rhapsodist is now in its fourth year. “It was a resource for me to recognize that the arts could be valued,” says Grey LaJoie, second from right, one of this year's editors.

AB Tech’s Rhapsodist celebrates its fourth year of publicatio­n

There’s more to The Rhapsodist than just getting student submissions (and some faculty offerings) into print. Students who produce the journa learn layout and graphic design, dealing with printers and publicizing the magazine (including producing videos for airing on the A-B Tech student channel), among other things. And according to the students, the journal inspires dedication and commitment.