Stepp among writers at Saturday festival

Feb. 22, 2013 @ 02:37 PM

Lin Stepp began writing fiction in what she calls her mid-years. "I teach college," she said. "That's my other life."

She had written articles and run a production-art business. "Fiction was something I always wanted to try," said the Knoxville native and resident, who teaches research and psychology at Tusculum College. "Life came to a point where I said, 'It's never too late to be what you might have been.' So I decided to do books."

The result: the Smoky Mountain books, a projected series of 12 novels set at various locations in and around the Great Smoky Mountains.

Stepp will sign books at the Rose Glen Literary Festival, which takes place Saturday at Walters State Community College from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"It's been a fun journey," said Stepp of the writing life. "It's more work than I expected."

Stepp has completed four Smoky Mountain books: "The Foster Girls," set in Wears Valley; "Tell Me About Orchard Hollow," which takes place in Townsend; Greenbriar-themed "Six Good Reasons"; and "Delia's Place," her latest. "Delia's Place" is set "in the heart of Gatlinburg," Stepp said.

The books are published by Vilas, N.C.-based Canterbury House Publishing, and their cover art is by local artist Jim Gray. The next Smoky Mountain novel, "Second Hand Rose," is due out in April.

Stepp conceived the series when she realized that few Smoky Mountain-themed novels are set in modern times. "I don't want to read another old-timey book," she recalled telling an area bookseller.

So, she said, "I write contemporary stories with romance and suspense, all with an Appalachian flavor."

In "Delia's Place," an Arlington, Va., woman is jilted and flees to a family cabin in Sevier County. "There are scenes in downtown Gatlinburg that readers just love," Stepp said. "The characters visit familiar places that they know."

With husband J.L., Stepp is working on a book called "The Afternoon Hiker: A Guide to Casual Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains." "We've included a lot of trails I don't think other books get into," she said.

Stepp is one of numerous authors appearing at the locally oriented festival, now in its fourth year. The special guest is Dr. Bill Bass, the University of Tennessee forensic anthropologist famous for UT's body farm, at which decomposing corpses are studied.

The festival is free, but there is a $20 fee for Bass' luncheon keynote address.

kburns@themountainpress.com