Writer & Adjunct Professor, Tulane University

The past year has been full of milestones for Katy Simpson Smith, whose debut novel, The Story of Land and Sea, a historical fiction set in North Carolina during the dawn of the Revolutionary War, was published in July. The novel weaves together three generations and explores slavery, kidnapping, love and friendship. In addition to her literary accomplishment, Smith has also been learning how to navigate the spotlight on a national level. Admitting to be a natural introvert, she says that one of her biggest challenges this year was “figuring out how to create a writer persona that’s totally comfortable reading aloud in front of strangers. I had thought that writing was a wholly private enterprise, but in fact, writers do need to get out of their pajamas once in a while to promote their own work.” (A recent photo shoot and interview published in Vogue magazine shows Smith elegantly posing in the French Quarter, looking not just comfortable, but exquisite.)

Smith will continue to promote her book and looks forward to traveling around the country to meet readers and visit bookstores (“my absolute favorite places to be,” she says). She is also teaching a freshman seminar at Tulane University, inspiring the next generation of readers and writers.