Janna McMahan @ Kentucky Live!


Award-winning Southern novelist Janna McMahan, a native of Campbellsville, Kentucky, spoke about her experience of the deep south during her writing career at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Bowling Green, Kentucky on the evening of April 17, 2011. Her presentation was part of the WKU Libraries’ “Kentucky Live!” talk series.

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This week’s speaker is award winning Southern novelist Janna McMahan.  She’s a native of Campbellsville, Kentucky, where family has lived since her great-grandfather bought land there before the Civil War.  Her fondest memories of this area are her grandparent’s farm, Green River Lake, 4H and reading, reading, reading. Growing up she wanted to be an author.  Her writing life began in the fifth grade with the short story “The Haunted House.”  She was most influenced by the Taylor County Library where she began volunteering at age eleven.  She’s a graduate of the University of Kentucky and has an MA in Mass Communications from the University of South Carolina.   She writes  that while interning at WVLK radio in Lexington she learned from Ralph Hacker to think of herself as “One of those McMahan’s who make the beautiful cherry furniture.”

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Her first novel Calling Home about the “flawed, yet lovable people in fictional Falling Rock, Kentucky” in the 1970s was published to considerable acclaim in 2008 by Kensington Press.  It was selected a s a “Need to Read” book by Target stores nationally for its detailed descriptions of Kentucky landscapes and culture.

Janna’s second novel, The Ocean Inside, set along South Carolina’s coastal islands, published by Kensington in 2009, was nominated for Book of the Year by the Southeastern Independent Booksellers Association.  Her first novella, “Decorations,” was published in November, 2009 as part of the holiday anthology Snow Angels, which became a New York Times bestseller.


She’s won numerous creative writing awards and was a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Fiction Award.  Her short stories have been published in journals and magazines such as Wind, Limestone, Yamassee, The Nantahala Review, and Arts Across Kentucky. One of her most recent essays “The Worst Bad Neighbor” appears in a new anthology We All Live Downstream.

She’s just finished her third novel set in Austin, Texas.  She currently resides in South Carolina

Her talk on Thursday will focus on writing about “The Modern South.”  We hope you’ll join us.

A book signing will follow her talk.

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