Cover To Cover is the anchor program for GPB’s literary coverage. Cover To Cover features a collection of distinctive Southern voices interviewing Georgia writers, Southern writers, and writers dealing with the South. The GPB Southern Lit Cadre will provide you with a varied, weekly glimpse at fiction, non-fiction, history, poetry, and even the occasional ‘old school’ nod to Flannery O’Connor or William Faulkner.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Fireworks Over Toccoa

After a successful career writing for television ("Dawson's Creek", et al) in Hollywood, Atlanta native Jeffrey Stepakoff is back home and embarking on a second career as a novelist. His previous work prepared him well, for his debut, Fireworks Over Toccoa, has all the earmarks of a popular novel but also seems destined to be a big or small screen drama.

The novel is the story of a young bride, Lily, whose husband leaves almost immediately after they're wed, to fight in World War II. On the eve of his return, she meets an alluring young man, a manufacturer of of fireworks (indeed), and thus Lily is forced to choose between her prior commitment and unmistakable passions of the heart. Setting his novel in the North Georgia town of Toccoa, which Stepakoff knows well, the one-time screen writer proves to be a master not just of creating characters and a dramatic story but also at evoking a strong sense of place. 1940s Toccoa comes alive as fully as any character in the book, and the present-day town, not surprisingly, is fully embracing the novel, anticipating a response from readers to Toccoa like Savannah experienced with Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

In addition to his multi-faceted writing talents, Stepakoff is a professor at Kennesaw State University, and our interview reveals him to be fully immersed in and an enthusiastic instructor on the craft of story telling. Though he already has two decades of professional recognition and accomplishment under his belt, with the new direction his writing career is taking, Jeffrey Stepakoff seems primed, with Fireworks Over Toccoa, to emerge as a major author of popular Southern fiction.

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