Talks & Topics
Getting to know the real-life adoptees from the Tennessee Children’s Home Society
Lessons Learned from Interviewing Survivors of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society
How to Research and Write a Nonfiction Book
Interview Techniques for Saving Your Family Stories
A Writing Journey: Why Books Matter Now More Than Ever
Middle-School Book Love: How to integrate real-life issues with fiction
Author Judy Christie has had lunch at the White House with First Lady Nancy Reagan; met Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon; and ridden across a Southern city in a hot air balloon. She’s run marathons—26.2 miles--in Alaska and at Disney World, been chased by a monkey on a city street, fished for piranha on the Amazon and once got a black eye playing putt-putt at the beach. She's always up for a good story and a good adventure. And no matter what she’s doing, Judy enjoys reading, writing and talking about books.
Judy has had 17 books published, including three Southern small-town series and her "Hurry Less Worry Less" series on how to slow down and enjoy life more. Her YA novel Wreath, A Girl has been optioned for film. An award-winning newspaper reporter and editor for 25 years, Judy co-authored the upcoming Before and After: Real-Life Stories of the Tennessee Children's Home Society, interviewing adoptees who survived the orphanage that operated nefariously from 1925-1950. Her co-author is longtime writer friend Lisa Wingate, author of Before We Were Yours, international best-selling novel about the Tennessee Children's Home Society. Their nonfiction book is due out from Random House in Fall 2019.
From the 1920s to 1950, Georgia Tann ran a black-market baby business at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in Memphis. She offered up more than 5,000 orphans tailored to the wish lists of eager parents—hiding the fact that many weren’t orphans at all, but stolen sons and daughters of poor families, desperate single mothers, and women told in maternity wards that their babies had died.
The publication of Lisa Wingate’s novel Before We Were Yours brought new awareness of Tann’s lucrative career in child trafficking. Adoptees who knew little about their pasts gained insight into the startling facts behind their family histories. Encouraged by their contact with Wingate and Christie, who documented the stories of fifteen adoptees in this book, determined Tann survivors set out to trace their roots and find their birth families.
Before and After includes moving and sometimes shocking accounts of the ways in which adoptees were separated from their first families. Often raised as only children, many have joyfully reunited with siblings in the final decades of their lives. In Before and After, Christie and Wingate tell of first meetings that are all the sweeter and more intense for time missed and of families from very different social backgrounds reaching out to embrace better-late-than-never brothers, sisters, and cousins. In a poignant culmination of art meeting life, long-silent victims of the tragically corrupt system return to Memphis with Christie and Wingate to reclaim their stories at a Tennessee Children’s Home Society reunion . . . with extraordinary results.