When Mab Morris realized there was a lack of literary events in North Georgia, she knew what to do. She reached out to her friends at Accent Cellars and together, they created Wine & Words, a monthly event that brings in authors and readers for meet-and-greets and wine.
“Raising kids and stuff like that and not having a lot of finances, I could never go to events,” said Morris, a fantasy-fiction writer. “So, I was like, ‘Well, I like wine and I want to be able to do this.’ I wanted a way to be able to connect with readers. I can’t always go find them, but I knew a great place for them to go find me and a bunch of other writers.”
And even with the event still in its early stages, this month, Morris is pulling out the big guns — and the big scares.
“Neither Jeff nor I have done an event at a winery, so it's going to be kind of new to both of us,” Salomon said. “I don't even know what to expect.”
He expects a good time, though, with lots of wine and conversation about their novels and his own poetry.
“I'm looking forward to drinking really good wine while talking to people about books,” Salomon said. “I think that is everything an author dreams of when they're growing up is sitting around with people in costumes, drinking wine, talking books.”
As a young-adult horror writer, he’s published four novels. The first was “Henry Franks.” The second and most successful was “All Those Broken Angels,” which was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award in young adult fiction.
But long before he was writing novels, Salomon was writing poetry. He’s had much of it published and even started National Dark Poetry Day, which takes place Oct. 7, the day Edgar Allan Poe died.
It’s a form or literature he learned from his grandfather, Andre Bialolenki, who studied poetry with Robert Frost.
“Poetry was kind of my first love,” Salomon said.
Eventually, he said he found himself in a “niche of writing psychological horror for young adults” and began getting involved with the Horror Writers Association. He’s now the vice president of its Atlanta chapter.
Strand’s writing, though, usually has a thread of comedy throughout. He started as a humor writer, but later honed in on the horror genre.
“I’ve always been a horror fan, but that’s not what I was writing,” Strand said of his early writing days. “I was switching types of comedy with each new book and the horror one was the one that took off first, so I decided I needed to have some focus.”
More than 40 books later, it’s safe to say he chose the right focus. He’s a four-time Bram Stoker Award-nominated author with his novels “Pressure” and “Dweller.” His young adult novel “A Bad Day for Voodoo” was up for the award along with his collection, “Gleefully Macabre Tales,” too.
Strand said he didn’t think twice about joining in on the Wine & Words event. He’s excited to visit Dahlonega for the first time and meet new readers.
“Any excuse to get out of the house is a good thing,” Strand said. “And something like this, where I'm probably not going to run into a lot of people who have read my stuff here, it’s a good way to meet new, potential readers.”
The most exciting part of the event for Salomon is the wine that will be paired with his novels. He said regardless of how many people show up, that alone will make it a worthwhile event.
“You're going to read our books and choose a wine?” Salomon said. “That's the best thing ever. Literally, three years from now, if someone is talking to me about one of my books, I'm going to be like, ‘Oh yeah, that pairs really well with’ — that's going to come up probably for the rest of my career.”
Morris said they sometimes pair wine with books based on the content, sometimes based on the cover and other times just for fun. Regardless, it’s a way to bring the whole event together and make for an interesting, new kind of event in the area.
“The great thing about doing it at the Accent Cellars is we’ll get people coming in for wine who are actually book readers,” Morris said. “And they’ll find their next new book and get really excited and walk away with not just wine, but like three books.”