Journalist Holly Kays has met and talked to thousands of people in her six years as a news reporter and outdoors editor with The Smoky Mountain News. Her newest book gathers some of her columns profiling regional people. “I’m convinced that every person has a story worth telling,” Kays says, “and that every life could be a book. But because time and space, of course, prevent me from interviewing everyone I meet, I look for people who have chosen to live in a way that is somehow different from the norm or in a way that celebrates the historical heritage of this place—harkening back to the title of the book, that includes people who are blazing new paths, keeping old traditions alive or managing to do both.” Examples include Ella Bird of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Western North Carolinians served by the Vecinos Farmworker Health Program.
Graduating from college during the recession found Kays at an internship with a small paper in Idaho. “I fell in love with the unique power a newspaper has to tell its community’s story in a way that nobody else really can,” she says.
Trailblazers & Traditionalists: Modern-day Smoky Mountain People, November, 2019, nonfiction, paperback, $15.95, by Holly Kays, and published by The Smoky Mountain News, Waynesville, NC. Find the book at regional bookstores, or order at Facebook.com/hollykaysauthor. Kays will hold a reading and signing on Monday, March 23, at 4 p.m. at the Jackson County Public Library in Sylva.