- Published: 23 September 2018 23 September 2018
Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop is historical fiction that combines poetry, prose, and pictures for young readers. I sold the manuscript in 2015. But I never met illustrator, R. Gregory Christie, until this summer when we signed books in New Orleans. I found this Caldecott Honor recipient to be inspiring, with strong opinions about the South. He lives in Atlanta where he owns and operates Gas-Art Gifts. Sharing dinner in New Orleans, over a plate of fried duck wings, we played a game of "top five." ~ Alice Faye Duncan
Greg Christie: Which top five cities in the South do you like to visit?
Alice Faye Duncan:
- Bentonville (AR)
I love museums and the Crystal Bridges Museum allows me to see every major American artist under one roof.
- Asheville (NC)
The Blue Ridge Mountains are beautiful and I will never forget how a visit to Malaprops Bookstore introduced me to notecards illustrated by Jonathan Green.
- Austin (TX)
The One World Theatre is where I first heard Diane Reeves in concert.
- Clarksdale (MS)
I love Hick’s Tamales! I could eat them every day.
- Memphis (TN)
It’s my hometown. I can view the Mississippi River, eat Cozy Corner BBQ, visit Burkes Book Store and feast on the best banana pudding from Makeda’s Cookie Company. A Memphis staycation is really my #1 choice.
AFD: Which top five writers inspire your creative process?
GC: My interests are human nature and history. When I encountered these books for the first time—I could not put them down.
- Chinua Achebe--THINGS FALL APART
- Phoebe Hoban--A QUICK KILLING IN ART
- Phillip Roth--THE HUMAN STAIN
- David Bayles & Ted Orlan--ART AND FEAR
- Tom Feelings--THE MIDDLE PASSAGE
AFD: Who are your top five booksellers in the South?
GC: My top five:
- Little Shop of Stories (Decatur, GA)
They make shopping a wondrous experience.
- Avid Bookshop (Athens, GA)
The clerks don’t stop until they find the right book for you.
- Parnassus Books (Nashville, TN)
They keep you up on what’s new from your favorite writers.
- The Book House (Mableton, GA)
There’s no congested traffic and their dedication to serve the community good books is the best.
- Octavia Books (New Orleans, LA)
I love NOLA and Octavia is a treasure within a treasure.
GC: Which Top 5 picture books should every adult own?
AFD: That’s easy!
- MEMPHIS, MARTIN AND THE MOUNTAINTOP
- CHARLIE PARKER PLAYED BEBOP
- DRAGONS LOVE TACOS (Book One)
- I WANT MY HAT BACK
- PLEASE, BABY, PLEASE
AFD: Here is my last question. You were born and raised in New Jersey. How has Georgia impacted your life?
GC: Let me count the ways. (1) The South is "not me." And yet, something greater than myself requires that I stay here to make a difference with my art. (2) Some of the most charming people live in Georgia. (3) I find the rural countryside beautiful. (4) Some days living in the South causes me to miss my travels abroad. And lastly (5) I live in my art. Therefore, I bring my world and perspective to the South through art.
AFD: I live and get lost in the creative process when I write. Let’s make the world a better place--one book at a time.
GC: We can do it.
About the Authors
Alice Faye Duncan is the author of multiple children's books, including Honey Baby Sugar Child, which received an NAACP Image Award Nomination for Outstanding Literary Work for Children.
R. Gregory Christie has illustrated more than fifty books for young adults and children. His work has won a Caldecott Honor, a New York Times 10 Best Illustrated Children's Books of the Year Award (two times), the Coretta Scott King Honor in Illustration (three times), the NAACP's Image Award, the Boston Globe-Horn BookAward, and the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award. He currently operates his store of autographed children's books, GAS-ART Gifts, in Decatur, Georgia. Visit gas-art.com.