Author interview

GPB/La'Raven Taylor

Karen Head is executive director of the communication center at Georgia Institute of Technology. She's also the Waffle House Poet Laureate. The designation came after a Waffle House fouondation-funded poetry tour project for under-served Georgia high school students.

Head's newest collection of poem is called Lost on Purpose. She stopped by On Second Thought to share her recommendations for the "Southern Reading List." For the series, we invite authors and readers to talk about books that define and reflect the South. 

Melissa Schmidt

Ava King is a newly divorced mother of a teenage son when she moves into her grandmother’s posh New Orleans home. Ava is the descendant of slaves, grandma Martha is about as WASP-y as they come, and their connected pasts are one of the plot twists in The Revisioners, a new novel by National Book Award finalist Margaret Wilkerson Sexton.

There is some magic in The Revisioners, but it’s less fantasy than testament to intergenerational bonds — in this case between Ava and her great-great-great grandmother, born enslaved on a Louisiana plantation.

Margaret Wilkerson Sexton joined On Second Thought to unpack her vision for The Revisioners, and her aim to look deeper at the power passed down through generations of African American families.

GPB/La'Raven Taylor

Georgia native Eve Hoffman teaches poetry at Emory University. Her most recent book, Memory and Complicity is a collection of autobiographical poems that tells the stories of a young Eve who grew up by the Chattahoochee River. 

Hoffman stopped by On Second Thought to give her recommendations for our "Southern Reading List" —  a series of authors and readers sharing books that define and reflect the South.

© Maira Kalman, courtesy of Julie Saul Gallery, New York.

Maira Kalman is perhaps best known by adults for the now iconic "New Yorkistan" and other covers for The New Yorker, or a dozen books including And the Pursuit of Happiness and The Principles of Uncertainty. Kids, on the other hand, know her better for the 18 picture books she's written and illustrated.

Kalman's picture books for children are the inspiration for an exhibition opening this week at the High Museum of Art. It's called The Pursuit of Everything. One of her books, Max Makes a Millionis also being adapted for the stage. Kalman is in town for the play's world premiere at the Alliance Theatre and the exhibition's opening this weekend, but first, she joined On Second Thought from New York.

David Goldman / AP

Monday marks four years since 12 members of the historically black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, welcomed a young white man to join their bible study group. When their eyes shut for a closing prayer, he pulled out a Glock pistol and fired 77 rounds, killing nine people.

Author and New York Times Columnist David Brooks speaking with Bill Nigut about his new book 'The Second Mountain.'

On this edition of Political Rewind, David Brooks is one of The New York Times most widely read and respected opinion writers. He’s a familiar presence on public television and radio and his books routinely become best sellers. So why did he wake up one morning and realize something vital was missing in his life? He decided he lacked purpose and connection and that we as a society were similarly afflicted.

Every year around Mother's Day, Michele Filgate braces herself for the affectionate photos and social media tributes to mothers. It's not for lack of wanting to see women celebrated, but the painful awareness of her own strained relationship with her mother.

That void deepened when the author and literary critic published an essay entitled "What My Mother and I Don't Talk About," about serial abuse by her stepfather and her mother's denial of it.

Kate T. Parker

Atlanta-based photographer Kate T. Parker's book, Strong Is the New Pretty, showcased girlhood in all its messy, muddy glory. The book featured portraits of girls and young women whose beauty came from being their authentic selves.

Now she's doing the same thing with boys. Her new book, The Heart of a Boy, is out April 2. Parker joined On Second Thought to discuss the messages of empowerment that run through her books.

Courtesy of Bonnie L. Heath / Berkley

Families often share genetic traits. They also share unfortunate pain, secrets and trauma. That's what Anissa Gray writes about in her debut novel, "The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls."

Gray is a senior editor at CNN Worldwide and recipient of the Alfred duPont-Columbia University award for journalism. The Atlanta-based author spoke with "On Second Thought" about her new book. 

Snowden Wright

Author Snowden Wright is no stranger to a good Southern epic. His new novel, "American Pop," chronicles the fizzy and flat years of a cola empire and the family who built it. The novel pours out American cultural and economic history while wrestling with ideas of legacy and nostalgia.

Wright joined "On Second Thought" to discuss the novel's release on Feb. 5. He shared his experiences growing up in Mississippi and writing the novel inside of his family's old shotgun cottage.

Indus Kamal Wasti

Written more than 200 years ago, Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" has been widely adapted into films, television shows and spanned book genres from horror to young adult fiction. Soniah Kamal's novel, "Unmarriageable," sets the stinging social satire, memorable characters and plot in contemporary Pakistan.


Kamal joined "On Second Thought" to discuss her novel, her love of Austen and her appearance at the Savannah Book Festival in February.


Today's show highlighted authors Soniah Kamal and Goldie Taylor, along with discussions on sports fans and information on an upcoming Georgia entertainment caucus.

"Unmarriageable" is author Soniah Kamal's modern adaptation of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," set in Pakistan. The novel follows teacher Alys Binat as she navigates family, romance and her own misconceptions about the dashing Valentine Darsee. Kamal joined "On Second Thought" to discuss the inspirations for her novel and her appearance at the Savannah Book Festival next month.

Goldie Taylor/Twitter

Political strategist and author Goldie Taylor knows Georgia politics. Her most recent novel, "Paper Gods," is a political thriller set in Atlanta's halls of power. Taylor stopped by "On Second Thought" with her picks for our "Southern Reading List" series, in which authors and readers share books that both define and reflect the South.

Joshilyn Jackson /

Atlanta-based author Joshilyn Jackson has written eight novels, including "The Opposite of Everyone" and "Almost Sisters." She stopped by "On Second Thought" to give her picks for our "Southern Reading List" series, in which authors and readers share books that both define and reflect the South.

"On Second Thought" explored rural churches, political thrillers and the legacy of the first black graduate at the University of Georgia today.

Sonny Seals spoke about Georgia's history through rural churches. Seals co-produced GPB's docuseries, "Saving Grace" with George S. Hart. They also wrote "Historic Rural Churches of Georgia."


As voters prepare for the November election, political power grabs are in the national news. "Paper Gods: A Novel of Money, Race, and Politics" uncovers a conspiracy that reaches into the heart of Atlanta's political machine. We spoke with author and political strategist Goldie Taylor about her new political thriller.

Jason Reynolds didn't get through a whole book until he was 17. He's now a bestselling author, and he's trying to change the way young people feel about reading.

It's been 100 years since a Spanish influenza epidemic killed as many as 50 million people worldwide, including 675,000 Americans. A new book on the deadly pandemic is out this week. It's called “More Deadly Than War.” The author, Kenneth C. Davis, talked with us about how the Spanish flu affected the course of World War I.