The Charlie Award

Charlie Award – named in honor of Charles F. Price – is given each year to an author who exemplifies fine writing and who works to build community.

CHARLES F. PRICE descended on both sides of his family from some of the earliest settlers in the mountains of Western North Carolina. He is the author of 8 novels covering topics from the Crusades to the American Revolution to the Civil War and to the Wild West.  He has also written one non-fiction book.  He is the winner of the 1999 Sir Walter Raleigh Award .  In 2006 he and his wife Ruth helped found the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival.  He has worked to improve communities by promoting economic development, social equality, and the arts to enhance the quality of life.

Price wrote:  “I write historical fiction about ordinary people confronted by extraordinary events…. I am interested in history not simply for its own sake, but as it sheds light on the problems and issues of today.”

2016 Honoree – JOHN ELHE (1925-2018) is the author of 11 novels and 6 books of non-fiction.  He has been described as “the father of Appalachian literature.”  John Ehle’s novels capture the spirit, humor, and everyday life of mountain people.  The Land Breakers has been hailed as “one of the best recreations of our pioneer past that we have had in years, honest and compassionate, rich and true…In a time of dreamless heroes, of long-winded whimpers that pass as novels, The Land Breakers has a rare degree of greatness.” — The New York Times.  His books are such an honest portrayal of the Appalachian culture, the stories seem more like folklore than fiction.  He is one of the finest authors in American literature and was an exceptionally fine human being as well.  He was inducted into the NC Literary Hall of Fame and is the five time winner of the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literature Prize, and the Lillian Smith Award for Southern Fiction.  He was Special Assistant to NC Governor Sanford who described him as a “one man think tank.” Ehle convinced the Governor to establish the NC School of the Arts and the NC School for Science and Mathematics.  He was advisor to President Johnson’s White House Group for Domestic Affairs and was active in a number of social, educational, and anti-poverty projects.


2017 Honoree – PAT RIVIERE-SEEL is the author of two poetry chapbooks and a full-length book of poetry.  Nothing Below But Air was a semi-finalist for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literature Award.  The Serial Killer’s Daughter has been staged by several theatrical groups.  She has attended every Carolina Mountains Literary Festival and has presented and taught at the Festival as well.  Pat was poet-in-residence of the NC Zoo and is a past editor of Kakalak.  She has mentored and taught myriads of poets both privately and through the UNC Asheville Great Smokies Writing Program and the NC Poetry Society Gilbert-Chappell Series.


2018 Honoree – TOMMY HAYS is the Executive Director of the Great Smokies Writing Program and Core Faculty in the Master of Liberal Arts and Sciences program at UNC Asheville. He also teaches in the Converse College Low Residency MFA. His novel What I Came to Tell You was a VOYA Top Shelf Pick for Fiction for Middle Grade Readers, a Nominee for the North Carolina Young Adult Award and an Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA). Hays’s most recent novel for adults, The Pleasure Was Mine, was a Finalist for the SIBA Fiction Award, chosen for numerous community reads and read on NPR’s “Radio Reader”. His other novels are Sam’s Crossing, and In the Family Way, winner of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award. Board Member of the North Carolina Writer’s Network, he graduated from the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. For more information go to


Abigail DeWitt is the author of three novels:  LILI (WW Norton), DOGS (Lorimer Press), and NEWS OF OUR LOVED ONES (forthcoming from Harper this year).  Her short fiction has appeared in Narrative Fine…., Five Points, Witness, the Alaska Quarterly Review, the Carolina Quarterly, and elsewhere.  She has been cited in BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES, nominated for a Pushcart, and has received grants and fellowships from the North Carolina Arts Council, the Tyrone Guthrie Center, the McColl Center for the Arts, and the Michener Society.