Although it doesn’t have the reputation of a literary hotspot, Charlotte has been home to many famous writers over the years. Carson McCullers wrote her masterwork, “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” in a rooming house on East Boulevard, now the site of Copper, an Indian restaurant. W.J. Cash wrote his landmark book, “The Mind of the South,” while living at the Frederick on North Church Street. Other well-known writers who spent time in Charlotte include Charles Kuralt, Edgar Lee Masters (author of “Spoon River Anthology”), Harry Golden, Erskine Caldwell, Frye Gaillard, Patricia Cornwell and Jan Karon (author of the best-selling Mitford series). Today, a new group of prolific writers is expanding the city’s literary footprint. All have books available both online and at local bookstores.
Mark De Castrique
Hendersonville native and Charlotte resident, Mark de Castrique is best known for his dozen mystery novels, in particular the Sam Blackman series set in Asheville. He also writes thrillers, young adult mysteries, plays and short stories. Castrique is a veteran video filmmaker, as well. His website features a tour of Asheville narrated with excerpts from the Blackman novels.
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For those who love local history, the works of Mary Norton Kratt are a real find. A graduate of Charlotte’s Central High and UNC-Charlotte, Kratt is the winner of numerous awards for both her history and poetry writings. Her books on Charlotte history include “Charlotte: Spirit of the New South” and “New South Women,” as well as books on Myers Park, Wing Haven and other local topics. The charming “Remembering Charlotte: Postcards from a New South City, 1905-50,” written with Mary Manning Boyer, is a best-seller at the Levine Museum of the New South.
Writing under several different pen names, including Elizabeth Bright, Melissa Glazer, Casey Mayes and D. B. Morgan, Tim Myers is one of the region’s most prolific mystery writers, with over three dozen novels in print, including 10 best-sellers on the New York Times list. His Lighthouse Inn mystery series, set in the North Carolina mountains, was nominated for the Agatha Award. Many of his other novels, including the Candleshop, Cardmaking, and Soap Boutique mystery series, are also set in North Carolina locales. Myers also authored several series for young adults, including educational titles.
Cathy Pickens is the pen name of a professor of business and former provost at Queens University. Her Avery Andrews novels, set in South Carolina, are popular mystery titles. The first book in the series, “Southern Fried,” won the St. Martin’s Press award for Best New Traditional Mystery in 2003. Pickens is also the author of “Charleston Mysteries,” a walking tour of haunted sites around the city.
The best-known writer currently calling Charlotte home, Kathy Reichs juggles her position on the faculty at UNC-Charlotte with her ever-growing list of best-selling novels and “Bones,” the hit television show she produces. A board-certified forensic anthropologist, Reichs bases her Temperance Brennan novels on cases she works on around the world. Her first novel, “Deja Dead,” was a New York Times bestseller and won the 1997 Ellis Award for Best First Novel. “Bones,” just ending its eighth season on FOX, is based on Reichs’ life and novels, which now number some 20 titles.
With 15 years of experience covering restaurants in Charlotte and the Carolinas, and two regional guidebooks under her belt, Renee Wright examines the dining scene with enthusiasm plus a deep knowledge of food trends and outstanding local eating ops. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.