BY AMELIA ROSE SMITH
PHOTOGRAPHY BY TRENTON LEE PHOTOGRAPHY
Katie Shands is a southern writer, born just east of the Smoky Mountains in Johnson City, Tennessee. Although deeply rooted in East Tennessee, Katie found her true home in the historic city of Franklin. In fact, Katie notes that she looked at her husband during a car ride through downtown Franklin’s Main Street and said, “this is a special place…this is where I want to land.” Shortly after, Katie and her family relocated to Franklin in 2015.
Katie says, “fiction is my true passion, but journalism is where I first landed.” Katie studied Journalism and Electronic Media at the University of Tennessee, which led to the start of her writing career in broadcast journalism. During her senior year of college, she landed a producing job at WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee, but her true dream was to become a novelist. So, after several years of producing the weekend newscasts and Newsmakers, a weekly political show, she left the world of broadcast news to find work in print media. This choice led to her greatest accomplishment to date, the publication of Finding Franklin. The manuscript took about a year to finish. Upon its completion in 2017, Katie entered it in the Janice Keck Literary Awards, a writing contest sponsored by the Williamson County Public Library. The prize was a complete publishing package, and Finding Franklin was released in 2018!
“Finding Franklin is my love story to a town that continues to inspire me. The historic homes, the distinctly southern flavor, the sense of community that evokes bygone days—Franklin encapsulates so much I hold dear, and my novel celebrates it all.” Katie hopes longtime residents feel a sense of home as they turn the pages of Finding Franklin, and that the many newcomers gain a greater appreciation of the culture here.
Her novel is also an unofficial advertisement for small businesses here in Franklin. Katie sprinkled many local shops and restaurants into the story (including Frothy Monkey, Gray’s on Main, Lotz House, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and Landmark Booksellers). “When fiction is anchored in reality, authenticity infuses the story, and that’s one of my primary goals as a writer. I’d like to think that element of authenticity has compelled my readers to pop into the places mentioned in the story and support Franklin’s business owners.”
When asked her favorite thing to do in Williamson County, Katie said, “I can never pass up a chance to wander around Landmark Booksellers…from the wall-to-wall bookshelves to the well-worn couches and antique rugs, it’s truly a sanctuary in the busy downtown district. But as inviting as the atmosphere is, it’s the people who make Landmark such a special place.” Katie tells how the owners of Landmark Booksellers, Joel and Carol Tomlin, were a big support in her writing journey. The day Katie and her husband drove through Franklin, admiring the city, she pointed at the bookstore and said: “One day, I will have a book there.” To her surprise, she made that dream come to fruition in 2018! “I’d be remiss not to mention Ashley Adcox, who is the Tomlins’ right-hand woman in the bookstore. She’s had an incredible impact on my oldest daughter and never misses an opportunity to encourage her. Those kinds of relationships make Franklin truly feel like home.”
In addition to Katie’s fiction writing, she freelances for lovelyfranklin.com, a website created by the talented Buffie Baril, that features Franklin’s most fascinating people and places. She finds joy in writing stories set in small southern towns where the pace is slower, life feels simpler, and the tea is sweeter. Everything she writes is centered around God and the truth of His love. Katie finds inspiration from her husband, Daniel, and four kids, Nora, Ellis, Lillian and Oliver.
For more about Katie, follow her Instagram account: @KatieShandsAuthor. Purchase signed copies of Finding Franklin at Landmark Booksellers.