What will Kentucky Book Festival visitors find on your table?
The Kudzu Queen
In 1941, James T. Cullowee, the Kudzu King, arrives in Cooper County, NC to spread the gospel of kudzu—claiming it will improve the soil, feed cattle, even cure headaches. When Mr. Cullowee organizes a kudzu festival, complete with a beauty pageant, fifteen-year-old Mattie Lee Watson wants to be crowned Kudzu Queen and capture his attention—until she discovers that Mr. Cullowee, like the kudzu he promotes, has a dark and predatory side. Based on historical facts, The Kudzu Queen unravels a tangle of sexuality, power, race, and kudzu through an irresistibly delightful (and mostly honest) narrator.
A Field Guide to Human Emotions
There’s a field guide for everything in the natural world. Why not for human emotions? A Field Guide to Human Emotions offers readers a handy, alphabetized guide to their daily emotions, where you’ll find both understanding and self-help. Each page provides a shortcut to that “Aha!” moment we’re all trying to find. This collection will inspire you to say, “That’s exactly how I felt, but I never knew how to say it.”
Whom do you invite to stop by? Who will benefit from reading your book?
If you’re a reader of historical fiction, Southern fiction, coming-of-age fiction, get-lost-in-a-book fiction and just plain fiction, this book is for you.
Come to pick up a book, and stay to chat about food, kudzu, the South and the ways we get ourselves into and out of trouble. And, speaking of trouble, ask me about the recipe for The Kudzu Queen cocktail, “Aunt Mary’s Spirit,” created by a craft bartender in DeKalb, Georgia.
Could you please tell us something curious about you and/or your book?
Kudzu was a backdrop for my childhood. Known as “the vine that ate the South,” and literally able to grow a foot a day, it seemed destined to survive an apocalypse. Over the years, I came to call it “southern topiary,” and to think it should come with a warning to farmers not to leave their cows or tractors in the field overnight.
When I came across an old article about kudzu queen competitions and countywide festivals. I couldn’t believe anyone would voluntarily promote kudzu, so I had to write a book to figure out who would do such a thing, and the Kudzu King was born. Once the Kudzu King was created, Mattie Lee Watson appeared on the scene, practically fully formed—and definitely full of herself.
Is this your first time participating in Kentucky Book Festival? If yes – what are you looking forward to the most? If you’ve participated before – what was your favorite experience at the Festival?
I’m delighted to participate in the Kentucky Book Festival for the first time this year. My favorite thing is to talk with readers and other writers, so I can’t wait to meet you!
Mimi Herman’s writing has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, Crab Orchard Review and other journals. Based on historical facts, The Kudzu Queen unravels a tangle of sexuality, power, race, and kudzu through an irresistibly delightful (and mostly honest) narrator.