North Augusta author Christine Hurley Derisowrote her first story, “The Happy Family,” when she was just six years old (Fun fact: Her mother still has a copy.). Although she now has seven published books under her belt with books eight and nine set to come out later this year, she says that her writing process hasn’t changed that much since then. “When I visit school kids, I tell them really all I’ve ever needed was my imagination,” says Deriso.
As a publications director at Georgia Regents University, she would spend her days writing and editing, then come home, light a scented candle and dream up novels and stories. And once Deriso had kids, she hit her stride. Much of her early work was adult novels, but when she was invited to volunteer in the classroom, she offered to read aloud—and wrote her own children’s stories as part of that.
“By the end of that year, I had a ton of stories, and I sent off the whole batch to probably about 75 publishers and agents,” she says. One was accepted and Dreams To Grow On, a children’s picture book, was published in 2002.
Holding her first published book in her hands was like “a miracle,” says Deriso. “It was just an amazing feeling, like, ‘Oh my gosh, I can really do this.’” Three middle-grade novels published by Random House soon followed, then two young adult books, Then I Met My Sister and Thirty Sunsets, her most popular works to date. Next year, she’s set to publish another young adult novel, Tragedy Girl, and was recently invited to be one of the authors for a new babysitting series called The Babysitting Chronicles.
While getting published hasn’t always been easy, writing has been and still is. “As soon as I could write, I was jotting terrible stories on paper,” she says with a laugh. “I’ve always loved it…It really has been a dream come true to be able to do what I would do, even if nobody was paying me, and to have a little bit of success with it.”
A Trolley Good Time
Any Southern city worth its salt offers a ghost tourand Augusta is no different. Jump aboard downtown’sAugusta Ghost Trolley for a very different look at such historic sites as
the Imperial Theatre, Sacred Heart Cultural Center, the Old Medical College of Georgia, St. Paul’s Church cemetery, the Cotton Exchange and the Haunted Pillar—and the ghostly legends they contain from the city’s eerie past. Or do a little “ghost hunting” of your own with the tour’s very own Ghost Radar.
• The family-friendly (but creepy) tours last about 90 minutes, with tour hours during fall and winter at 7 and 9 p.m. (8 p.m. in spring and summer).
• Private tours are also available year-round, Monday through Thursday. A minimum of 15 guests is required for a tour to take off and the trolley can accommodate up to 26 guests.
• Cost is $20 for adults and $15 for kids ages 5 to 11.
Toss Your Boss…
Ever felt like tossing your boss off the edge of a building? On October 23, you just might get the chance. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Augusta is holding its second Over the Edge fundraiser, inviting anyone with a stout heart to rappel down the side of the 15-story St. John Towers in downtown Augusta to raise funds for RMHC Augusta’s new house. The rappelling is perfectly safe, according to President and CEO Betts Murdison, who strapped herself in last year. While anyone who raises at least $1,000 can rappel “over the edge,” employees can chip in and “toss” their willing bosses over the edge as well. The house will even help set up a fundraising page to solicit donations. To sign up, call RMHC Augusta at (706) 724-5901 or for more information, visit www.rmhcaugusta.org.
HAVE YOUR PIZZA AND EAT IT TOO?
The Columbia County Library launched its Pub Fiction book club, pairing pizza and the latest not-so-pulp fiction for book lovers.
The club meets the second Monday of every month at 7 p.m. at Pizza Central in Evans.
To reserve your spot at the next book club or to find out the book selection for the month, contact the library at (706) 863-1946.
If there’s one thing you can say for sure about Carey Murdock, it’s that he doesn’t sit still for very long. He is constantly on the go and you can always find him out playing in front of a crowd. Since 2009, he has toured the world and extended his fan base well beyond the local region, including a following that ranges throughout Europe, in countries such as Sweden, Italy and France. After moving to Nashville for a few years, Murdock is currently back living in his hometown of Augusta and he’s gearing up to get on the road and promote his new full-length album If It’s Got Wheels.
Murdock describes his sound as “American heartland rock” along the lines of Bruce Springsteen. It’s a middle-of-the-road sound that mixes well with his knack for staying on the move. Listening to his songs, you can hear the gravely and unpolished timbre in his voice—quite similar to The Boss—and the songwriting has a matter-of-fact quality reminiscent of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. When he hits the stage, Murdock usually has his full band in tow, although he’s been known to play quiet solo acoustic sets.
So what’s Murdock’s secret to success? He has been able to leverage social media notoriety with extensive word-of-mouth promotion and it has literally taken him all over the world. In light of that, there’s no telling where his talent will take him next.
Every fall, downtown’s Tire City Potters opens shop for a one-of-a-kindpersonalized pottery class for art lovers of all ages.
Carve Your Forever Pumpkin was inspired several years ago when TCP worked with at-risk kids to give them a fun day of pumpkin carving. When that program ended, the pottery shop decided to do something similar, but carve the pumpkins out of clay, fire them and enjoy them forever.
Every clay pumpkin form is hand-thrown by TCP staff and carvers can then come in, carve the clay, apply color and customize pumpkins to their liking, all with the help of professional potters. “We sit with every client and try and guide and direct them in a way to let them fully maximize their experience,” says owner Shishir Chokshi. “We want to get people to understand the experience of making and working with clay.”
Through mid-October, both individuals and groups can reserve a time to carve their pumpkins (Groups are welcome to bring food and drink and enjoy their own Halloween party!). Cost is $30 per pumpkin. Call (706) 294-3871, (843) 434-0183 or message Tire City Potters through their Facebook page,www.facebook.com/tcpotters.
Historic Banning Mills Treehouse Village
Why Go: Fulfill your childhood treehouse dreams with a stay at Historic Banning Mills’ treehouse village, a unique bed and breakfast located 70 feet above Snake Creek Gorge, accessible only by rope and wooden sky bridges.
What Else: Each of the seven treehouse rooms offers a Swiss Family Robinson type stay, complete with a slight sway in the breeze and trees trunks bursting through the floorboards and out the ceiling. Each room also features a king-size bed, gas log fireplace, windows and decks with spectacular views of the surrounding forest and creek below, and a jetted tub for two. Two of the tree houses are two stories, which makes for a perfect family or group accommodation option.
What To Do: Historic Banning Mills isn’t just a place to stay—it’s also an adventureland for the brave at heart. It holds two Guinness World Records, including one for the World’s Longest Continuous Zip Line Course and Eco-canopy Adventure Tour and one for the World’s Tallest Freestanding Climbing Wall, soaring to 140 feet. There’s also horseback riding, kayaking, hiking, falcon hunts and bird of prey shows.
Where To Eat: A stay at the treehouse village includes a full country-style breakfast. Although Historic Banning Mills doesn’t offer a walk-in restaurant, guests can make advance reservations for a picnic lunch or a gourmet dinner, including a romantic candlelit dinner option on the Tree Terrace overlooking Snake Creek Gorge. Restaurants are also available in nearby Carrollton or Newnan.
Distance From Augusta: About 191 miles or a 3-hour drive
If one mouse can build an entire kingdom in Florida, then, by golly, one can rebuild a theater in Augusta, Georgia!
That’s the message of Miller’s Opening Night, a children’s story written by Augustan Levi Hill IV and illustrated by Georgian Janie Hester. The book tells the story of young Miller, a mouse, and his family, who live in Augusta’s historic Miller Theater and hope to one day help reopen the landmark venue. Beautifully told and illustrated, the book is also truly benefiting efforts to restore the historic Miller Theater, with proceeds going to the Miller Theater Foundation.
To get your copy visit millersopeningnight.com (click on Shop) or Amazon.com. More information and fun videos are also available on www.facebook.com/millersopeningnight.
On Screen/Off Screen
WHILE ACTRESS ANNA CAMP is best known for her singing prowess in the popular Pitch Perfect film series on screen, off screen the Aiken native is a Southerner at heart. Camp was born in the old Aiken County Hospital and lived in the area for four years before her family moved to Rock Hill and then to North Carolina. Although she herself moved to New York City after graduating from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Camp’s Southern accent still slips out from time to time and one of her favorite meals is chicken and waffles. Camp is currently busy with film roles and it was recently announced that Pitch Perfect 3 will premiere in theaters in 2017.
The weekend’s answer to First Friday is finally here. Curvitude’s Kimberly Beasley spearheaded the launch of Sidewalk Saturday back in July, with downtown boutiques and other vendors showcasing everything from retro-inspired furnishings and vinyl records to colorful Indian-inspired cottons and artwork. The event is the first Saturday of every month.
To become a vendor or to find out more, search for Downtown Augusta Sidewalk Saturday on Facebook.
Want to take a walk through history?
• On Sunday, October 25 from 1 to 5 p.m., 15 churches in downtown Augusta will open their doors to visitors for free tour to highlight the impact these institutions have had on Augusta over the past 200 years.
• All participating churches are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and represent many firsts for the Augusta community.
• Tours may be self guided, or churches may provide tour guides (with some in period costume). Some churches will provide refreshments.
• Tour maps are available at participating churches on the day of the tour. Maps and a list of participating churches may be found at www.historicaugusta.org.
Hacking for the Common Good
Downtown’s The Clubhou.se hosted its first Hack Augusta awards during the National Day of Civic Hacking, recognizing people and organizations in Augusta who have created something to help improve the community. This year’s recipients are listed below.
You Didn’t Know You Were Hacking Award: Art Bomba!, for hosting live art shows.
Celebrating Our City Award: We Are Downtown Augusta Campaign, a movement by 56 downtown businesses.
Improving the Ordinary Award: Greater Augusta Arts Council’s “Art the Box” project, which painted traffic boxes throughout the city.
Downtown Beautification Award: Operation Clean City, working to promote a culture against unnecessary litter.
Why So Serious? Award: Eric Freeman, whose photos of taking care of his coworker’s plant (including taking it for a walk on Riverwalk) went viral.
Best Addition to Downtown Business: Humanitree House, juice joint and gallery.
Best Use of Technology To Improve Human Life Award: Blackbox of Email Industries, solution to improve the quality of email lists.
EPIC Hack Award: Artist Leonard “Porkchop” Zimmerman’s HAPPY campaign, a public art project involving billboards, stickers and more.
SEPTEMBER 30-OCTOBER 4
THE EIGHTH SEASON OF WESTOBOU FESTIVAL UNFOLDS in the heart of downtown Augusta, September 30-October 4. This year festival headquarters moves to the Augusta Common, which will be transformed into a creative playground where patrons can listen and dance to live music, ride the Westobou Wheel and play and imagine in the hands-on Fun Factory kids’ tent. Events on the Augusta Common will be admission-free.
The festival will also debut the Westobou Gallery, a permanent contemporary white-box exhibition space at 1129 Broad St. Throughout the upcoming year, this new space will provide a venue for a wide variety of rotating exhibitions by emerging and mid-career artists of local and international acclaim. During the festival the premiere exhibition will be open daily and will remain on view through November.
This year’s exhibition will be curated again by Susan Laney of Laney Contemporary in Savannah and feature the work of three female artists: Hiromi Moneyhun (Jacksonville, Fla.), Pamela Wiley (Savannah, Ga.) and Stephanie Howard (Greenville, S.C.).
Other daily events include the festival’s ever-popular Chamber Music Series and a new after-hours Late Night Series that will highlight local and regional talent at bars and restaurants downtown.
SEPTEMBER 30-OCTOBER 1
Opening night kicks off with Celebrating the Life and Work of Marlon Brando featuring the Augusta premiere of Stevan Riley’s acclaimed documentary Listen to Me Marlon (2015) at 7 p.m. at the Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre on GRU-Augusta’s Summerville campus. Riley uses recordings Brando made of himself to not only narrate the story of his life and career, but as insight to the ideas that drove him as both an artist and a man. A discussion with Riley will follow the screening.
On Thursday at 7:30 p.m. festival goers will enjoy an intimate concert featuring Ben Folds with Symphony Orchestra Augusta. Folds, who first found mainstream success as the leader of the critically acclaimed Ben Folds Five, has gone on to have a successful solo career, recording multiple studio albums, a pair of records documenting his renowned live performances, a remix record, music for film and TV, as well as numerous collaborations with artists ranging from Sara Bareilles to William Shatner.
For this performance the Jessye Norman Amphitheatre will be transformed into a dreamy music venue under the stars.
Friday festivities feature an exhibit reception at the Westobou Gallery plus a downtown gallery hop, culminating with live music and a movie screening in the Common. Reception and gallery hop are free and open to the public.
Saturday morning marks the third consecutive year for the Color Run. Co-sponsored by Westobou Festival and the Greater Augusta Sports Council, the happiest 5k on the planet will offer participants a colorful opportunity to run through the streets of downtown Augusta. The start-line window will open at 9 a.m. on the parade grounds of the Old Richmond Academy, where a pre-race party, complete with music, dancing, warmup stretching and giveaways, will be in full swing. At the end of the race runners will be greeted by food trucks and live music in the Common. Registration begins September 1. Visit thecolorrun.com/augusta.
Later in the afternoon the tribute to Marlon Brando continues with free screenings of two of the actor’s greatest films, On the Waterfront (1954) at 2 p.m. and A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) at 4 p.m.
Saturday evening at 8 p.m. the Imperial Theatre will host a dance performance by Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, which has performed worldwide in more than 200 cities in 40 countries on every major continent and is recognized as one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the dance-theater world.
Their repertoire is widely varied in its subject matter, visual imagery and stylistic approach to movement, voice and stagecraft and includes musically-driven works as well as works using a variety of texts. It has been acknowledged for its intense collaborative method of creation that has included artists as diverse as Keith Haring, Cassandra Wilson, the Orion String Quartet, the Chamber Society of Lincoln Center, Fred Hersch and Jenny Holzer among others.
Those looking for a more casual evening can bring their blankets and lawn chairs and enjoy a movie screening under the stars in the Common.
The final Westobou curtain rises on Sunday at 7 p.m. to an intimate evening with Nellie McKay at the Westobou Gallery. McKay is a British-born American singer-songwriter, actress and former stand-up comedian, noted for her critically acclaimed albums and her Broadway debut in The Threepenny Opera (2006). Her music, which has been heard on the TV shows Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Weeds and Grey’s Anatomy, has showcased different genres, from jazz to rap and disco to funk. My Weekly Reader, her newest album, is a collection of covers of songs made famous in the 1960s. The range of material is wide—from the Beatles’“If I Fell” to Frank Zappa’s “Hungry Freaks, Daddy.”
This article appears in the October 2015 issue of Augusta Magazine.