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27 Famous Asheville Authors & Writers You Don’t Want To Miss

Meet the best Asheville authors, poets, and writers. Explore their fantastic books to add to your reading list.

Are you traveling to Asheville and looking for local authors to read? Or, do you live in North Carolina and want to see the inspiration behind the stories?

With UNC-Asheville in town along with the city’s inspiring Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is home to and connected with a plethora of amazing writers.

Not to mention that Western North Carolina (WNC) is the perfect destination for book lovers with “The Hunger Games” waterfalls, Wolfe boarding home, champagne used bookstore, and Shakespeare in the Park.

It’s no wonder that so many people come to AVL for inspiration.

Today, contemporary Asheville writers publish bestselling small-town fiction with plots set in Asheville or cities like it against the works of older authors – both visitors and residents – like the Fitzgeralds and Thomas Wolfe.

Let’s not forget the greater WNC region, too, for giving us writers like Carl Sandburg and Jan Karon.

So, who are some of the best local authors in Asheville?

Keep reading for a unique list of Asheville writers, poets, and essayists who have contributed to the city’s literary canon. We’ll mix in a few other NC authors too.

Don’t forget to share your favorite famous author from Asheville (or three) in the comments. Let’s get started!

You may also enjoy these books set in, from, and about North Carolina.

Famous Local Asheville Authors with map of North Carolina with red pin cushion in Asheville in
Meet the best Asheville authors, and read their bestselling books, short stories, and poems.

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27 Best Asheville Authors & Their Books

Please keep in mind that these are just a few local Asheville authors. Some of these novelists and poets have relocated over time or merely wrote in and around the Asheville region.

Not all of the books mentioned are penned in Asheville, NC, either.

Classic & Historical Fiction Writers

Thomas Wolfe

Thomas Wolfe is probably the most famous author from Asheville. You might know him best from Look Homeward, Angel, a historical fiction novel that reads like a hyperbolic autobiography.

Wolfe penned 4 large and intense novels in his lifetime along with a series of novellas, dramatic works, and short stories. Born and raised in Asheville, Wolfe died at the age of 38 in Maryland.

You cannot visit Asheville without stopping by The Thomas Wolfe Memorial, which is located in his mother’s boarding home on Market Street in Downtown AVL.

Take a guided tour. We promise, this is one of the best things to do in Asheville, and you won’t regret the local stories and gossip.

Plus, enjoy a short film and visit the small museum, full of photographs and mementos from Wolfe’s life.

If you have time, drive over to Montford’s Historic District to see where Wolfe and his parents are buried at Riverside Cemetery.

Pay your respects by leaving a pen, and be sure to look for W.O.’s famous angels throughout the grounds. A free map and walking pamphlet at the entrance will help guide you.

Just know that the cemetery is also said to be pretty haunted. This is an active cemetery too so please be respectful and conscience of your surroundings.

Read more about Asheville’s top literary sites.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

While not a North Carolina native, F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of the most well-known local authors in Asheville because of his time writing here.

We always eat up rumors of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s AVL summers – the summer of 1935 and 1936, specifically – at the historic Omni Grove Park Inn.

Rumor has it that he allegedly shot at the ceiling one drunken night and was kicked out.

Fitzgerald suffered from his own demons and vices and would spend these summers writing. He is, of course, famous for The Great Gatsby, an American classic set in Long Island.

Today, Fitzgerald’s beloved Grove Park Inn is a gorgeous place to stay for luxury travelers. The resort sits on top of North Asheville‘s Sunset Mountain.

Visitors can enjoy rooftop restaurants, the world-renowned spa, and the best sunset viewing spots in town. Vacation like Fitzgerald – well, minus the quinine.

Read more about Fitzgerald’s tumultuous time in Asheville on NPR.

Zelda Fitzgerald

Zelda Fitzgerald Memorial Highland Hospital Asheville NC with quote on it from Zelda saying "I don't need anything except hope, which I can't find by looking backwards or forwards, so I suppose the thing is to shut my eyes
There is a bleak plaque honoring Zelda at the former location of Highland Hospital on Zillicoa Street in Asheville’s Montford neighborhood.

Readers tend to overlook F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife and another one of the most prominent Asheville writers, Zelda Fitzgerald.

Zelda’s mental health concerns brought her to Asheville and Highland Hospital – a more progressive health institution for its time.

Unfortunately, Zelda perished in the accidental fire there, a story that Lee Smith captures in her novel, Guests On Earth.

You might know Zelda best, though, from her novel, Save Me The Waltz.

Today, take a haunted LaZoom Bus Comedy tour, and you might just “meet” Zelda. Have a beer or two first, though.

While in the Montford neighborhood – if it’s May through October – catch a free weekend Shakespeare in the Park performance.

Contemporary Fiction Writers

Sarah Addison Allen

Garden Spells by contemporary Asheville author, Sarah Addison Allen, book cover with white wedding dress on a hanger

For famous contemporary Asheville authors, Sarah Addison Allen is a feel-good favorite.

As a New York Times bestselling writer, her books include Garden Spells and First Frost. She gives readers that small-town feel paired with romance and magical realism.

Allen’s fictional town of Bascom, NC resembles Asheville – where she was born and raised.

If you enjoy books like Addison’s, head over to our sister site’s Southern reading list for even more regional authors and their books.

Read more about Sarah Addison Allen.

Sara Gruen

Did you know that bestselling author, Sara Gruen, moved to Asheville? While first looking at Raleigh, she instead landed in Western North Carolina.

Gruen penned Water for Elephants and At The Water’s Edge – a book set in Scotland with Nessie – both of which we loved.

Gruen is an award-winning contemporary writer and one of our favorite Asheville authors.

Read more about Sara Gruen.

Gail Godwin

One of the most accomplished Asheville writers, Gail Godwin is the bestselling author of over 14 novels along with many short stories and three nonfiction titles.

Although born in Birmingham, Alabama, Godwin resided in Asheville. As a young woman, she attended St. Genevieve’s of the Pines, a Catholic school.

Mountain City is the setting for many of Godwin’s books, a fictional town resembling Asheville. Her book, Unfinished Desires, is based on St. Genevieve’s.

Godwin later worked for The Miami Herald and traveled to Europe, working for the U.S. Travel Service with the Embassy.

Read more about Gail Godwin.

Never Miss Another Asheville Update


Tired of generic Asheville travel itineraries? Experience Asheville like a local with our free Asheville Favorites checklist, including restaurants, breweries, and hiking. Plus, get local updates – including events and hidden gems – straight to your inbox. Sign up here.

John Ehle

John Ehle grew up in West Asheville. He was a contemporary Asheville author designated as “the father of Appalachian literature.”

In his lifetime, Ehle wrote over 17 novels and founded the NC School of Arts in Winston-Salem. Ehle was also a six-generation North Carolinian.

He fought in WW2 as a rifleman and served on the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His novel, The Land Breakers, is a saga about the Appalachia wilderness and settlement in NC.

Wiley Cash

Another one of the top New York Times bestselling local authors in Asheville, Wiley Cash is a writer-in-residence at the University of North Carolina-Asheville.

Cash has taught creative writing and literature across North Carolina where he lives with his family.

He has a Ph.D. in American Literature from UL-Lafayette. Cash also holds an M.A. in English from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and a B.A. in Literature from UNC-Asheville.

You might know Wiley Cash from A Land More Kind Than Home and The Dark Road To Mercy.

Learn more about Wiley Cash.

Charles Frazier

A famous author from Asheville, Charles Frazier, is well known for his novel, Cold Mountain, winner of the National Book Award.

Not to mention that in 2003, British film director Anthony Minghella adapted the book into a movie. While most of the movie is shot in Romania vs North Carolina, see what other movies were filmed across NC.

Frazier’s third novel, Nightwoods, is a thriller set in Western North Carolina in the 1960s.

Frazier holds a B.A. from the University of North Carolina. He also earned an M.A. from Appalachian State University and a Ph.D. in English from the University of South Carolina.

Read more about Asheville author Charles Frazier.

Never Miss Another Asheville Update


Tired of generic Asheville travel itineraries? Experience Asheville like a local with our free Asheville Favorites checklist, including restaurants, breweries, and hiking. Plus, get local updates – including events and hidden gems – straight to your inbox. Sign up here.

Asheville Poets, Essayists, And Short Story Writers

Ron Rash

Serena by Ron Rash, Asheville poet and novelist, book cover with bird flying over foggy and misty trees and land

If you are looking for famous Asheville authors, short story writers, and poets, Ron Rash is it.

Rash is a 2009 PEN/Faulkner finalist and New York Times bestseller, best known for Serena and Above the Waterfall. He is also the recipient of the O. Henry Prize.

Born in Chester, South Carolina, Rash is currently a Professor of Appalachian Studies at Western Carolina University.

His most famous book, Serena, set in 1929, follows newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton as they head to North Carolina to build their timber empire.

Serena proves her worth as their marriage begins to fall apart due to George’s unfaithfulness.

Read more about one of the top local authors in Asheville, Ron Rash, and explore even more famous authors living in NC.

O. Henry

William Sydney Porter O. Henry Gravestone at Riverside Cemetery with pennies on top
Leave a penny for local Asheville author O. Henry at Riverside Cemetery.

Another one of the most famous Asheville writers – specifically for his short stories – William Sydney Porter, or O. Henry, spent his final days in Asheville, NC.

Like Thomas Wolfe, find O’Henry’s grave in the Riverside Cemetery; leave him a penny.

Born in Greensboro, North Carolina, O. Henry spent much of his writing time in New York City.

His heavy drinking along with other ailments contributed to his somewhat early death. Rather ironically, his stories are known for their happy endings.

Allan Wolf

If you are looking for an Asheville poet, Allan Wolf is an award-winning writer of picture books, poetry, and young adult novels.

Booklist named The Watch That Ends the Night, a book about the sinking of the Titanic, as one of the 50 best YA books of all time.

Wolf champions performance poetry (poetry slams). His books showcase not only poetry but also history and science.

Read more about one of the coolest Asheville authors, Allan Wolf.

Emöke B’Rácz

Malaprop's Bookstore In Asheville NC with table filled with books at Malaprop's Bookstore in Downtown Asheville
Head to one of the best bookstores in Asheville, Malaprop’s.

Emöke B’Rácz, the founder of one of our favorite Asheville independent bookstores, Malaprop’s, has written several poetry collections including Every Tree In The Forest.

B’Rácz grew up in communist Hungary. When her family fled to the United States as political refugees, she eventually drove south to start her own bookstore.

She is also known for supporting all of the great local authors in Asheville – and Malaprop’s Bookstore hosts author talks and book clubs.

Be sure to check out their local Asheville author display.

Glenis Redmond

Another award-winning Asheville poet, Glenis Redmond writes poems about everyday life.

Most notably, from 2014 to 2018, Redmond served as the Mentor Poet for the National Student Poet’s Program.

She prepared youth to read at the Library of Congress and for First Lady, Michelle Obama, at The White House.

Deemed the “Road Warrior Poet,” Redmond travels, teaches, and reads both nationally and internationally. Glenis Redmond believes we can heal the world one poem at a time.

Read more about Glenis Redmond.

Nonfiction Asheville Writers

Denise Kiernan

The Last Castle by nonfiction Asheville writer, Denise Kiernan, book cover with picture of the Biltmore lit up at night

If you are headed to Biltmore, we always recommend reading Denise Kiernan’s The Last Castle before you go.

The Last Castle presents an engaging history of Biltmore Estate along with the goals of George and Edith Vanderbilt.

Readers will gain a stronger perspective of the estate’s role in Asheville’s history and have a better appreciation for both Edith’s role in politics and the family’s contributions to forestry.

This Asheville-set book also explains the high cost of that Biltmore ticket.

Kiernan is one of the most famous local authors in Asheville for her nonfiction works.

She is a historian, producer, author, and journalist. With bestselling books and a strong presence in the writing community, Kiernan is a gem to Asheville and preserving lesser-known or obscured histories.

You may also recognize Denise Kiernan from her novel, The Girls Of Atomic City, a nonfiction story about the women in Tennessee during WW2.

Learn more about Denise Kiernan.

Horace Kephart

If you are looking for local Asheville writers, Horace Kephart was a legend.

A Yale University librarian, travel writer, and environmentalist, Kephart wrote Our Southern Highlanders, a nonfiction book that shares his time growing up in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Kephart vehemently campaigned for a national park in The Smokies. He also helped plot some of the Appalachian Trail.

Born in Pennsylvania, Kephart moved all over the United States. He died in a car accident in Western North Carolina and is buried in Bryson City, NC.

Kephart also wrote The Book Of Camping And Woodcraft.

Wilma Dykeman

An environmentalist and famous author from Asheville, Wilma Dykeman wrote both American fiction and nonfiction, chronicling Appalachian life.

She grew up in the Beaverdam area of North Asheville and attended Biltmore Junior College, which is now UNC-Asheville.

Dykeman advocated for economic protection and development along the French Broad River. In her lifetime, she penned 18 books

She is buried in Lewis Memorial Park. Dykeman’s books include The French Broad and Family Of Earth.

Middle Grade & YA Authors

Robert Beatty

Serafina and the Black Cloak by middle grade and YA Asheville author, Robert Beatty, book cover with young girl walking a tree branch over Biltmore

One of the most famous local middle-grade Asheville writers, Robert Beatty’s books are perfect for families to read before touring Biltmore Estate.

His Serafina series chronicles the life of a young girl at Biltmore blending fantasy, mystery, and historical fiction. Middle graders become more intimate with the Vanderbilt family.

He also designs robots, a hobby that has earned him national attention. Serafina And The Black Cloak is the first novel in the Serafina series.

Beatty currently lives in Asheville with his children and wife.

Read more about Robert Beatty.

Megan Shepherd

If you are looking for YA Asheville authors, you cannot pass over Megan Shepherd. Shepherd lives on a farm just outside of Asheville.

She is a New York Times bestselling author with books nominated for the Carnegie Medal. Shepherd grew up with her family’s indie bookstore located in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

We read and reviewed Shepherd’s new fantasy novel and now series, Grim Lovelies, for The Uncorked Librarian.

Shepherd also wrote The Madman’s Daughter and The Secret Horses of Briar Hill.

Read more about Megan Shepherd.

Alexandra Duncan

Alexandra Duncan is both an Asheville author and a librarian.

She writes YA science fiction novels, including as Salvage and Sound. Duncan’s short fiction appears in anthologies.

Read more about Alexandra Duncan.

Hope Larson

If you are looking for Asheville writers who specialize in graphic novels, try Hope Larson. An Asheville native, Hope is an NYT bestselling and Eisner award-winning author.

One of her wickedly witchy fantasy books, Salt Magic, takes young readers back in time to WW1 and addresses PTSD, mental health, the power of family, and coming of age.

Find a review of Larson’s teen graphic novel on our sister site, The Uncorked Librarian.

While Hope has lived across the U.S. and Canada – including LA and Chicago – she currently resides in Asheville with her family.

North Carolina Authors Near Asheville

Mark de Castrique

Murder In Rat Alley by North Carolina author, Mark de Castrique, book cover with Blue Ridge Mountains and red and orange horizon

Born in Hendersonville, North Carolina, Mark de Castrique writes a mystery series set in WNC. This includes books based in Asheville and at the Carl Sandburg home.

He is the author of 19 novels and has two middle-grade books set in Charlotte, NC, where he currently lives.

Mark de Castrique earned an EMMY for his documentary work and is a veteran of broadcast and film production.

Murder In Rat Alley, a spin on a classic spy novel, is set in Asheville. AVL readers might also enjoy The Sandburg Connection.

Read more about Mark de Castrique.

Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg Home white house with green grass and flowers out front
Today, you can tour or hike around the Carl Sandburg home in Flat Rock, NC.

Carl Sandburg lived in Connemara, which is now Flat Rock, North Carolina.

Today, you can visit the Carl Sandburg Home, which is right outside of Hendersonville.

In his lifetime, Sandburg won three Pulitzer Prizes, two for his poetry and a third for his biography of Abraham Lincoln.

Deemed the “Poet of the People” in the 20th century, Sandburg was also a Civil Rights activist. Born in Illinois, Sandburg and his wife moved to Connemara in 1945.

Renea Winchester

Renea Winchester portrait of white woman with blondish brown just over shoulder-length hair in white shirt with green background
Meet indie author, Renea Winchester.

Renea Winchester is an award-winning North Carolina author based in Bryson City, NC – one of the best cities to visit near Asheville.

Born and raised in Bryson City, Winchester is an advocate for Appalachian Heritage. She leads regional and national writing workshops as well as medicinal plant workshops.

Her novels preserve NC history and honor working-class families. Winchester’s debut novel, Outbound Train, is set in Bryson City in the 1960s as well as modern day.

Readers watch as Carole Anne tries to escape the unrelenting cycle of poverty, misogyny, and institutional corruption.

Read more about Renea Winchester, and find Outbound Train on TUL’s Books Set On & About Trains reading list.

Patricia Cornwell

Born in Miami, Patricia Cornwell grew up in Montreat, North Carolina. Montreat is about 25 minutes from Asheville near Black Mountain.

Cornwell currently lives in Boston.

For a time, she worked for the Charlotte Observer, gaining notoriety for her articles on prostitution and crime in downtown Charlotte.

Today, she is best known as a contemporary crime writer, selling over 100 million books. Her first novel, Postmortem, is a forensic thriller.

Read more about Patricia Cornwell.

Jan Karon

Jan Karon was raised on a farm near Lenoir, North Carolina. Throughout her life, she lived and moved from Charlotte to San Francisco.

At the age of 50, Karon headed to Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Her Mitford series, a fictional town, is based on Blowing Rock, NC.

The first in the series, At Home In Mitford, meshes contemporary Christain life with small-town fiction.

Read more about Jan Karon’s Mitford books.

Meagan Lucas

Meagan Lucas currently lives in Hendersonville, NC.

Lucas teaches English at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and is the Fiction Editor at Barren Magazine.

Born and raised in Northern Ontario, Canada, Lucas’s debut novel is Songbirds and Stray Dogs.

Read more about Meagan Lucas.

More North Carolina Authors & Writers:

Anne Tyler – Anne Tyler grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. You might know her best for Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant and The Accidental Tourist.

Tom Robbins – Born in Blowing Rock, NC, Thomas Eugene Robbins is a bestselling author of “seriocomedies” or comedy-drama. His family moved to Virginia while he was still a young boy. He later settled in Washington where he penned his first novel. His book, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, was made into a movie.

Save This List Of Local Authors In Asheville (& Their Books) For Later:

Asheville Writers and Local Authors In Asheville Pinterest pin with aerial image of city at sunset and O. Henry's grave with pennies at Riverside Cemetery
Did you find a new famous author from Asheville, NC? Save this list of Asheville writers for later, and read like a local with Uncorked Asheville.

Who is your favorite famous author from Asheville?

Who are your favorite Asheville authors, and what are your favorite books?

Of course, there are many more famous Asheville writers, and we’d love to know who we should add to our list. Let us know in the comments.

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Amanda

Sunday 29th of May 2022

Such a great list Patti Digh is also AMAZING and local to Asheville. Love her book, Life is a Verb.

Christine

Wednesday 1st of June 2022

Thanks so much for sharing! We'll have to check it out.

Christy Hallberg

Tuesday 16th of November 2021

What a great list! It would be an honor to join it. I'm Christy Alexander Hallberg, and I live in Leicester, just outside Asheville. My debut novel from Livingston Press/University of West Alabama, SEARCHING FOR JIMMY PAGE, was published October 20, 2021.

Christine

Thursday 18th of November 2021

Hi Christy, Thanks so much for letting us know, and congrats on the publication.

Heath

Thursday 29th of July 2021

Be sure to add John Paris to your list, long time Asheville Citizen times who wrote several great books about Asheville/mountain life, as well as Wilma Dykeman and her classic, the French Broad.

Christine

Friday 30th of July 2021

Wilma Dykeman is already on this list, but thank you for the John Paris suggestion. We appreciate it. Have a great upcoming weekend.

Sara

Wednesday 12th of August 2020

I learned some new authors here! Thanks! I would also recommend Marisha Pessl. She grew up in AVL but I think she lives in NYC now.

Christine

Wednesday 12th of August 2020

Hey Sara, Thanks so much for the Asheville author rec! I will have to check her out.

Kathy | Tasty Itinerary

Saturday 9th of May 2020

I read Water for Elephants long ago and I enjoyed it. Thanks to this list now I have added Accidental Tourist and First Frost to my Kindle wish list. Oh, Serafina and the Black Cloak is available Kindle unlimited.

Christine

Thursday 14th of May 2020

I am so glad that you found a few new books to read! There are still some that I need to pick up along with local Asheville authors.