Cheré Dastugue Coen
Southern Writers Spotlight: Athens' Judy & Len Garrison
Name: Judy and Len Garrison
Book: “100 Things to Do In Athens, Georgia, Before You Die”
Facebook: /seeingsouthern /seeingsouthernphotography /judygarrison
Twitter: /seeingsouthern /judyhgarrison
Instagram: /seeingsouthern /seeingsouthernphotography
Hometown: Clarkesville, Georgia
Gives us a brief description of your book(s).
This is a travel book that highlights 100 of the must-do things to do when you visit Athens, Ga. Having been a part of the city most of my life, it was difficult to narrow them down.
What brought you to write these stories?
Reedy Press approached me to write the book. I considered it a perfect fit! My mother was originally from Athens. I graduated from the University of Georgia (UGA) and now live in the bedroom community of Watkinsville, Ga. It’s always been part of my life!
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Lots of the items were based on my years in the city. Personal places I loved as well as new places I experienced for the first time – it was a joy to discover new ideas as well as share the decades-long adventures I had come to love.
Where does the story(stories) take place?
Athens, Georgia, is home to the University of Georgia, but it also is one of the most inspiring and electric cities in the state.
How does setting play in the telling of the story?
It IS the Classic City!
What do you think makes a good story/book?
A good story begins with a setting. I’ve always believed the setting of any story or book is a character that aids in storytelling. I let that do that with my writing as well as my photography.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Writing always excited me. My 11th-grade teacher marveled over one of my assignments, and I took those words to heart. My push came from her, Mrs. Cunningham. I’ll always remember her. And, since I wasn’t athletic or a lover of numbers, words soon became my way of existing in a world that often felt overpowering.
When did you write your first book? And how was that experience?
My first book, “North Georgia Moonshine,” was published in 2015 by Arcadia Press. That story evolved from a magazine article assigned to me. Little did I know that the setting, story and people were a mile from where I grew up. It was an absolute joy to write the story of this moonshiner. I consider this book more of a love story than a writing project.
Is writing your primary job or do you have another career?
My husband, Len, and I are Seeing Southern. Our company focuses on editorial and photography projects including commercial and wedding photography. Writing and photography are basically the same in my eyes – two mediums that tell the same story through different lenses.
What does your family think of your writing?
My husband is very proud, and my son, Ty, brags about me being an author to my friends. I take that as a win!
What was the most surprising thing you learned writing your stories?
There were no surprises in writing this book. I have always known Athens is a beautiful, vibrant and electric city with endless possibilities. I’m proud to deliver a list to people who visit the Classic City.
Did writing your book(s) lead you to other things?
At this point, it hasn’t, but I hope there will be a third book in my future. My favorite type of writing is narrative in first person. Memoir always intrigues me, and I believe that will be the direction I will go.
What suggestions do you have for aspiring writers?
Never, ever give up. Do the impossible. Write every day. Be your biggest cheerleader.
How can readers find and purchase your books?
Find our book at Amazon or on Seeing Southern website. We have many book signings scheduled in the Athens area during October and November. Follow our Facebook page for up-to-date information and scheduling.
Weird, Wacky & Wild South is written by travel journalist and author Cheré Coen. She is also published through Arcadia Publishing.