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Who's Telling Appalachia's Story? Appalachian Writers Discuss Their Work

Journalist Ken Ward, author Karen Spears Zacharias and author Laura Lee Morris.
Jesse Wright, WVPB
Journalist Ken Ward, author Karen Spears Zacharias and author Laura Lee Morris.

On today’s show, we’ll hear from people who write novels, short stories and newspaper articles, each one telling Appalachia’s story in his or her own way.

First we’ll hear from journalist Ken Ward. He’s been writing for the Charleston Gazette-Mail in Charleston, West Virginia for 27 years covering environmental issues, coal mining and worker safety. He’s heard both praise and criticism for his coverage.

"When somebody who’s been through what they’ve been through says you’ve always been here for us, if that doesn’t move you a little bit as a journalist, you need to get in some other business." -- Ken WardHe was recently awarded a MacArthur fellowship, a grant given to outstanding contributors in their local communities who push the boundaries of science, art and culture. Jessica Lilly talked to Ward to find out what this honor means to him. 

Karen Spears Zacharias is the writer-in-residence at Shepherd University in Shepherdsown, W.Va. Growing up a military family, she moved around a lot, but she lived in the hills of Appalachia in east Tennessee for most of her childhood. We’ll hear her read from her novel "Mother of Rain."

Fiction writer Laura Leigh Morris will read a selection from her story “Frackers," out of her book"Jaws of Life"and Beth Ward reads a review of the new Foxfire book, "Travels with Foxfire: Stories of People, Passions, and Practices from Southern Appalachia".Listen to Morris read the full story "Frackers" on SoundCloud.


Listen to this entire episode on SoundCloud. 

Roxy Todd is our producer. Our executive producer is Jesse Wright. He and Liz McCormick edited our show this week. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. Molly Born is our web editor. Eric Douglas is our associate producer. You can find us online on Twitter@InAppalachia.

Copyright 2018 West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Eric is a native of Kanawha County and graduated from Marshall University with a degree in Journalism. He has written for newspapers and magazines throughout his career. After completing the certificate program with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, he began producing documentaries includingRussia: Coming of Age,For Cheap LobsterandWest Virginia Voices of War.
Roxy Todd
Roxy Todd is a reporter and co-producer for Inside Appalachia and has been a reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting since 2014. Her stories have aired on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Marketplace. She’s won several awards, including a regional AP Award for best feature radio story, and also two regional Edward R. Murrow awards for Best Use of Sound and Best Writing for her stories about Appalachian food and culture.
Jessica Lilly
Jessica Lilly covers southern West Virginia for West Virginia Public Radio and can be heard weekdays on West Virginia Morning, the station’s daily radio news program and during afternoon newscasts.