By Richard Massey

Amylou Wilson

Amylou Wilson

Amylou Wilson will be the featured reader at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 30, at Ozark Poets and Writers Collective’s monthly show at Nightbird Books. The Fayetteville resident will read from stories published in Little Miss Cornbread: Our Journey to Southern-Style Vegan and Gluten-Free Cuisine & Sort-of-True Short Stories, what she refers to as a “hybrid” book written by herself and her sister Susie Jane Wilson of San Francisco.

“Susie was working on recipes while I was working on short stories,” Wilson said. “This went on for several years. Then, after I founded Turtle Lake Press, we decided we should just publish our own book and create a mash-up, if you will. It was fun to do, but I don’t think I’ll be publishing any more books.”

There will be a short open mic before then after Wilson reads. The bookshop is at 205 W. Dickson St. in Fayetteville.

Wilson is the daughter of a bookkeeper and a brick mason/construction foreman. She was born in Ferriday, Louisiana, the fourth of five children (three boys followed by two girls, all in eight years). The setting for many of her sort-of-true short stories is her hometown, the birthplace of notable folks such as Jerry Lee Lewis, his cousins Jimmy Swaggart and Mickey Gilley, broadcaster Howard K. Smith, and Claire Chennault, commander of the Flying Tigers that defended Burma and China in the opening months of the Pacific War in December 1941.

Wilson’s love is reading and writing fiction, as well as animals, particularly dogs.

She said her memories include sitting under a shade tree in the hot, humid summer with her butt in a washtub of water surrounded by dogs and cats while reading her favorite book of the moment. Always an avid reader and daydreamer, she began writing her own poetry and stories as a pre-teen. While an undergrad studying English at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, she had a few poems published and received a small poetry prize. She continued in school, receiving a master’s in English at UA in 1983. Later, one of her short stories, featured in Little Miss Cornbread, found a home in the now defunct Arkansas Literary Forum (the journal is archived online).

In the past, she has worked as a dishwasher, a caregiver, a waitress, a graduate teaching assistant, a newspaper writer and editor, and a freelance writer/communications consultant. These days, she works in public affairs with a regional water utility.

“A gal’s got to make a living,” she said.

Expect Amylou to bust out her Southern drawl and entertain you. Little Miss Cornbread will be for sale for those who want them.