Readers and Writers Retreats

John Grisham

John Grisham graduated from Mississippi State University before attending the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1981 and practiced criminal law for about a decade. He also served in the House of Representatives in Mississippi from January 1984 to September 1990. He began writing his first novel, A Time To Kill, in 1984, and it was published in June 1989. As of 2008, his books had sold over 250 million copies worldwide. A Galaxy British Book Awards winner, Grisham is one of only three authors to sell two million copies on a first printing, the others being Tom Clancy and J.K. Rowling.

Sissy Spacek

Sissy Spacek is an Academy Award winning American actress and singer. She came to international prominence for her roles as Holly Sargis in Terrence Malick’s 1973 film Badlands, and as Carrie White in Brian De Palma’s 1976 horror film Carrie (based on the first novel by Stephen King) for which she earned her first Academy Award nomination. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as country star Loretta Lynn in the 1980 film Coal Miner’s Daughter. In 2012, Spacek published a memoir, My Extraordinary Ordinary Life, written along with Maryanne Vollers.

Jan Karon

Jan Karon is an American writer and novelist, who has written for both children and adults. Karon was born in Lenoir, North Carolina, in 1937, as Janice Meredith Wilson. She retired from a career in advertising and moved to Blowing Rock, North Carolina, to write. Among her awards are an ABBY Honor award for books in the Mitford series, set in the fictional community of Mitford, North Carolina. She has been designated a lay Canon for the Arts in the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy (Illinois) by the Rt. Rev. Keith L. Ackerman, SSC.

Henry Wiencek

Henry Wiencek’s latest book, Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves, was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux on October 16. His book An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History and the Best Book Award from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. He holds a fellowship at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and has been awarded residential fellowships at the International Center for Jefferson Studies and the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College.

Donna Lucey

Donna M. Lucey is currently at work on a book about the lives of five extraordinary women painted by John Singer Sargent. Her most recent biography, Archie and Amélie: Love and Madness in the Gilded Age (Harmony Books), was a Finalist as the Best Work of Non-Fiction, as well as the People’s Choice Award, at the 2007 Library of Virginia Literary Awards. Her book, Photographing Montana 1894-1928: The Life and Work of Evelyn Cameron, won the Mountain and Plains Booksellers Association award for the Best Work of Non-Fiction in 1991. Lucey was awarded two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities for her work on the Montana book.

Peter Hatch

Peter was the director of the gardens and grounds at Monticello, Mr. Jefferson’s homestead, for nearly thirty five years. Peter is the country’s leading expert on the origins of the American garden, and the man most responsible for the emergence of Monticello as a leading center for historic research. “Few topics tell us more about Jefferson as his gardening,”observes Hatch, who in his new book, A Rich Spot of Earth: Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello describes the “Ellis Island” of plants Jefferson brought to America.

Caroline Preston

Preston is the author of three previous novels. Jackie by Josie, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, was drawn from her (brief) researching stint for a Jackie O. biography. Gatsby’s Girl chronicles F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first girlfriend who was the model for Daisy Buchanan. In The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt, she has drawn from her own collection of vintage ephemera to create a novel in the unique form of a scrapbook. Preston has been awarded a Massachusetts Artist Foundation Fellowship and has had residencies at Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Ragdale.

Christopher Tilghman

Christopher Tilghman’s life has revolved around his family’s farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. His new novel, The Right-Hand Shore and its sequel Mason’s Retreat tell the multigenerational story of a farm on the Eastern Shore modeled after his own. His other books include the novel Roads of the Heart, and the short story collections, In a Father’s Place and The Way People Run. Chris is a Professor of English and Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Virginia. He and his wife, the writer Caroline Preston, divide their time between Charlottesville and the Eastern Shore.

Barclay Rives

Barclay Rives has spent most of his life in the Castle Hill neighborhood absorbing local stories and characters. He has written two books: A History of Grace Church, Walker’s Parish, and The 100 Year History of the Keswick Hunt Club. His work has also appeared in Albemarle Magazine, Virginia Sportsman, and In & Around Horse Country. He is presently completing a biography of his ancestor, and former Castle Hill resident, US Senator William Cabell Rives (1793-1868).

Hugh Wilson

And what of writing for television and the movies? This longtime writer, director, and producer of network television and motion pictures will be speaking about the thrills and spills of surviving in Hollywood. Hugh is a former writer for the Bob Newhart Show and the creator/executive producer of CBS’s much missed “WKRP in Cincinnati.” As a director, his comic movie hits run from the ridiculous (Police Academy One) to the sublime (The First Wives Club). Hugh won the Emmy for Best Comedy Writing of 1988 for the short-lived, critically praised Frank’s Place.

Tony Vanderwarker

Tony was an ad whiz in Chicago and New York until he quit the biz and moved to Keswick to write novels. He’d written six unpublished books and was wondering whether he should quit and take up competitive croquet when his friend, John Grisham, asked him if he’d like JG to mentor him writing a novel. It didn’t take long for Tony to decide and for the next two years they worked on Tony’s novel, Sleeping Dogs. Like the great line in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: “Most things don’t work out as expected. But what happens instead often turns out to be the good stuff,” Sleeping Dogs didn’t sell but a book he later wrote about the experience of working with John did and Writing With a Bestseller is being published next year.

Jenny Gardiner

Jenny Gardiner is the author of the award-winning novel Sleeping with Ward Cleaver; the memoir Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who’s Determined to Kill Me; the novels Slim to None (#1 bestseller on Kindle); Anywhere but Here; Where the Heart Is; the essay collection Naked Man on Main Street, and Accidentally on Purpose and Compromising Positions (writing as Erin Delany); and is a contributor to the humorous dog anthology I’m Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship. Her work has been found in Ladies Home Journal, the Washington Post and on NPR’s Day to Day. She and her family live in Virginia.