Janie Dempsey Watts - A Prolific Writer With Exuberant Personality

Thursday, April 11, 2013 - by Ferris Robinson

Janie Dempsey Watts is a prolific writer with an exuberant personality. A graduate of  U.C. at Berkley with a masters from the University of Southern California, she has achieved success in the literary world. One of her screenplays is optioned, and her new novel, Moon Over Taylor's Ridge has not only been nominated for a SIBA (Southern Independent Bookstores Associate) award in the fiction category, it is also a finalist in for the Augusta Literary Award. She was also nominated for a GAYA (Georgia Author of the Year) and her short story Rotten Apples was recently published in the Southern Women's Review. 

This is all since January 2013.

You might think she'd be resting on a few of her many laurels, but this Southern dynamo doesn't rest.  

Active in several writers groups, Janie is booked solid between requests for book signings and readings, and speaking engagements. She recently spoke at Ringgold High School's Book Club, and said, "These students are avid readers and their questions about plot, character literary devices were some of the best I have heard. Thanks to Mark Pierce, RHS English teacher, for inviting me and to the Not-So-Rapid Readers for providing refreshments. And yes, I did eat a pink and white cupcake with lots of frosting." 

Engaging, funny and joyful, Janie began working on Moon Over Taylor's Ridge when she lived in LA. When her father became ill, she travelled across the country regularly to care for him in Ringgold, and during that time she shared stories with relatives. "My uncles and cousins kept telling me about the legend of a Cherokee silver mine said to be on Taylor's Ridge, a low mountain that runs along the length of the valley. In the quiet moments when my father napped, I started thinking, "What if?" 

After two years of writing and extensive research on Cherokee lore and history, Janie began her rewrites of Moon Over Taylors Ridge. Truly a labor of love, the book has been compared to Sharon McCrumb's 'Ballad' series, Adriani Trigiani's 'Big Stone Gap' or Karen White's books - without the ghosts. "One of my main goals in writing this novel was to let people learn about our rich Cherokee history here in an entertaining way.   I grew up hearing all about it from my family and I wanted to share it with others," Janie says. 

She lives on her family's farm in Ringgold now, and is enjoying getting back to her roots after many years in California. Chosen by Catoosa County as this year's "One Book, One Community" book, Moon Over Taylor's Ridge is also on several school summer school reading lists because of the quality of writing and engaging storyline. 

Janie actually graduated from Chattanooga High School, now the Creative Arts School, and Barnes & Noble is having a fundraiser on Saturday, April 20, from 2-4 p.m. at Barnes & Noble at Hamilton Place for the school's library. "I am so very excited!" Janie says. "I'm especially excited about this signing because my high school English teacher, the late Mrs. Johnson, was such an inspiration and supported my writing." While she was a student there, Janie worked on the Maroon and White, the school newspaper and was also active in the Writer's Guild. 

"Janie is a remarkable woman," Kelly Flemings, Barnes and Noble manager, says. "She is a favorite author at Barnes & Noble Hamilton Place, and customers seek out her work on a daily basis. She has kindly taken time from her busy schedule to speak at Barnes & Noble in support of her alma mater, Chattanooga High School." 

Janie Watts will be the headlining author during a fundraiser for the CHS Center for Creative Arts library, along with authors Poppy Jackson and TJ Carson, as well as a number of students who will be reading their original works. This event is free to the public and you might want to plan on spending the better part of the afternoon at Barnes & Noble. Once you meet Janie Dempsey Watts and hear her speak, you won't want to leave.

 

(Ferris Robinson can be contacted at ferrisrobinson@gmail.com)


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