The best in southern gothic with a heart

Who am I?

I am the author of three novels (with two more set to release next year); Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree; The Dead Rockstar Trilogy; and I'm happiest when straddling literary genres. I have published works of historical fiction, as well as southern gothic, horror, speculative fiction, dark fantasy, and literary fiction. My debut, Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree was nominated for Georgia Author of the Year in 2020. In addition to writing, I am a genealogist and recently went back to school to obtain my history degree. My love of writing, history, and family all intersect to inform my writing and I always set my characters in good old Georgia.


I wrote...

Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree

By Lillah Lawson,

Book cover of Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree

What is my book about?

It is Indian summer, 1929, and O.T. Lawrence is about as content as a cotton farmer can be in Five Forks, Georgia—nothing, not poverty, drought, or even the boll weevil can spoil the idyllic family life he shares with his doting wife and children, and his beloved twin brother Walt. Until illness and Black Tuesday take everything O.T. ever held dear in one fell swoop. Grieving, drinking, and careening towards homelessness, O.T. is on the brink of ending it all when he receives an odd letter from a teenage acquaintance, the enigmatic Sivvy Hargrove, who is locked away in Milledgeville’s asylum for the insane. Traveling through desperate antebellum towns, O.T. and his daughter Ginny are determined to find Sivvy and discover her story. 

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Cold Sassy Tree

Lillah Lawson Why did I love this book?

This was a favorite novel of both of my grandparents, who have since passed on, and they encouraged me to read it as a teen. It soon became one of my favorite books. Olive Ann Burns was local to the county where I grew up, so I love it for the local aspect, but also it’s just a really warm, funny, poignant novel that lovingly, hilariously details southern families and all the happiness, heartbreak, and drama they go through. 

By Olive Ann Burns,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Cold Sassy Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The one thing you can depend on in Cold Sassy, Georgia, is that word gets around—fast. When Grandpa E. Rucker Blakeslee announces one July morning in 1906 that he's aiming to marry the young and freckledy milliner, Miss Love Simpson—a bare three weeks after Granny Blakeslee has gone to her reward—the news is served up all over town with that afternoon's dinner. And young Will Tweedy suddenly finds himself eyewitness to a major scandal. Boggled by the sheer audacity of it all, and not a little jealous of his grandpa's new wife, Will nevertheless approves of this May-December match and…


Book cover of Where the Crawdads Sing

Lillah Lawson Why did I love this book?

I’ve had a few readers tell me that my novel reminds me of this book. In fact, they did come out around the same time, but I think Owens’ book is in a class all its own. Her lyrical language combined with the unique backdrop and premise of the novel give it a distinctly southern gothic flare that we need more of in literature. 

By Delia Owens,

Why should I read it?

41 authors picked Where the Crawdads Sing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

OVER 12 MILLION COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE
NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE
A NUMBER ONE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

For years, rumours of the 'Marsh Girl' have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be…


Book cover of God's Little Acre

Lillah Lawson Why did I love this book?

Erskine Caldwell is deeply underrated; for my money, he’s one of the best southern gothic writers in the genre. Perhaps it’s down to the risque nature of his books and characters, which were especially provocative (and in some cases, downright despicable) for the time period. However, beyond the depravity there is a real beating heart in his books that perfectly capture the desperation and grief of depression-era Georgia. 

By Erskine Caldwell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked God's Little Acre as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Like Tobacco Road, this novel chronicles the final decline of a poor white family in rural Georgia. Exhorted by their patriarch Ty Ty, the Waldens ruin their land by digging it up in search of gold. Complex sexual entanglements and betrayals lead to a murder within the family that completes its dissolution. Juxtaposed against the Waldens' obsessive search is the story of Ty Ty's son-in-law, a cotton mill worker in a nearby town who is killed during a strike.

First published in 1933, God's Little Acre was censured by the Georgia Literary Commission, banned in Boston, and once led the…


Book cover of The Third Life of Grange Copeland

Lillah Lawson Why did I love this book?

Alice Walker is one of my all-time favorite authors and inspirations, and not just because she’s from Georgia, like me. The Third Life of Grange Copeland is my favorite novel of hers; in it, she captures beautifully the fraught relationship between a hardened old man and his granddaughter, who he is determined to do right by after a lifetime of doing wrong. It is a heartbreaking, stark, beautiful novel. 

By Alice Walker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Third Life of Grange Copeland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Alice Walker's powerful first novel.

Alice Walker's first book recounts the lives of three generations growing up in Georgia, where the author herself grew up. Grange Copeland is a black tenant farmer who is forced to leave his land and family in search of a better future. He heads North but discovers that the racism and poverty he experienced in the South are, in fact, everywhere. When he returns to Georgia years later he finds that his son Brownfield has been imprisoned for the murder of his wife. But hope comes in the form of the third generation as the…


Book cover of Revival

Lillah Lawson Why did I love this book?

This novel is the perfect blend of historical fiction and horror, and King perfectly captures small-town rural life among people who hold a little too strongly to both tradition and stereotypes. The novel invokes that particular dread that can only be raised by those philosophical questions that one can’t seem to answer; the horror of the unknown. Plus, given my own book, I have a soft spot for traveling preachers who aren’t what they seem. 

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Revival as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A spectacularly dark and electrifying novel about addiction, religion, music and what might exist on the other side of life.

In a small New England town, in the early 60s, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister, Charles Jacobs. Soon they forge a deep bond, based on their fascination with simple experiments in electricity.

Decades later, Jamie is living a nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll. Now an addict, he sees Jacobs again - a showman on stage, creating dazzling 'portraits in…


You might also like...

Hayley and the Hot Flashes

By Jayne Jaudon Ferrer,

Book cover of Hayley and the Hot Flashes

Jayne Jaudon Ferrer Author Of Hayley and the Hot Flashes

New book alert!

Who am I?

I grew up in a small town, with wonderful librarians who introduced me to books I remember fondly to this day. The Flicka, Ricka, Dicka series, the Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew, and, of course, Little Women shaped my love for stories about relationships and the simple pleasures of daily life. Whether it’s a mystery or a memoir, I want interesting interactions between the main characters, meaty descriptions of daily activities and affairs, and, of course, a happy ending. As I’ve gotten older, I like books with older protagonists; those are hard to come by—one reason I wrote a novel about the adventures of five middle-aged girlfriends!

Jayne's book list on entertaining stories about relationships

What is my book about?

Country music diva Hayley Swift has fallen off the charts and into a funk. Desperate to regain her place in the limelight, she agrees to a low-budget tour of Southern venues, starting with her 35th high school reunion.

There, in an unexpected but fortuitous reconnection, The Girls Next Door —who sang together in their teens--become Hayley and the Hot Flashes as they embark on a road trip that will forever change their lives. You'll laugh out loud as the ladies deal with stage fright, stalkers, attitudes, egos, harmonies, hormones, and more. Middle age has never been moodier—or more melodic!

Hayley and the Hot Flashes

By Jayne Jaudon Ferrer,

What is this book about?

When five middle-aged girlfriends trade in carpools and casseroles for microphones and music halls, look out!

Hayley Swift, a country music diva who has slipped out of the limelight, gets more attention when she's mistaken for Taylor Swift's mom than for her former glory days. When she's invited to perform at her 35th high school reunion, a bus accident puts her back-up singers in a hospital, Hayley begs her long-gone-domestic quartet from high school to join her onstage for the gig. They're such a hit that she invites the women to fill in on a low-budget tour for a couple…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Georgia (USA), African-American men, and good and evil?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Georgia (USA), African-American men, and good and evil.

Georgia (USA) Explore 80 books about Georgia (USA)
African-American Men Explore 30 books about African-American men
Good And Evil Explore 129 books about good and evil