Brown is the author of The Wild East: A Biography of the Great Smoky Mountains. A must read for hikers, scientists, and tourists to the most-visited national park in the United States, The Wild East tells the story of the park’s creation and early development. Unlike western national parks, the Smokies were carved out of small farms as well as timber and mining operations. Nine communities were removed to create this park. As mountain people left, the area saw an explosion in bear and deer along with the tourists. Extirpated species, such as elk and river otter, were reintroduced. Restoration (more than preservation) explains how the Great Smoky Mountains became an International Biosphere Reserve with the greatest biodiversity in North America.
Brown also served as a researcher/writer for the popular Hiking Guide to the Smokies and Historic Buildings of the Smokies. Her essays and reviews have appeared in a wide variety of publications, from The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture to Environmental History Review to The Leap Years: Women Reflect on Change, Loss, and Love.
Brown’s first published short story, “Those Smoky Bears” appeared in Lights in the Mountains: Stories, Essays, and Poems by Writers Living in and Inspired by the Southern Appalachian Mountains.
Mermaids in the Basement is Brown’s first novel. A coming of age novel set in the 1970s, Mermaids follows three sisters and their baffled parents as they negotiate what would become a sea change in roles, attitudes, and opportunities for American women. The oldest finds expression in the growing sexual revolution; the quiet middle sister changes her fate with help from Title IX, and the youngest struggles with a church forever altered by Vatican II. A story of memory, estrangement, and forgiveness, Mermaids looks at the origins of identity questions that polarize many women in the present.
Brown has honed her skill as a fiction writer with the help of Breadloaf Writer’s Conference, the Great Smokies Writing Program Master Classes, Self as a Source of Story workshops, Looking Glass Writer’s Workshop, Tinker Mountain Writer’s Workshop, a Wild Acres residency as well as public readings, including Working Class Kitchen in Lexington, Kentucky. She has studied with Christina Baldwin, Pinckney Benedict, Elizabeth Lutyens, Helen Schulman, and Jane Smiley.