Tusculum College’s Dr. Lin Stepp, who teaches developmental and educational psychology and a research writing course at the Knoxville Regional Center, has reason to smile these days. With a recent acceptance for publication of her 12-book Smoky Mountain Series and a glowing review from Dolly Parton, Dr. Stepp is enjoying positive reviews from the first book, released this spring.
“Well, I’ve finally come across someone that believes in all the things that I do … love, family, faith, intrigue, mystery, loyalty, romance and a great love for our beloved Smoky Mountains. Dr. Lin Stepp, I salute you,” reads the inscription from Parton on Stepp’s novel, “The Foster Girls.”
According to Stepp, the series is set in the Smoky Mountains, with “The Foster Girls” set in Wear’s Valley. The second book in the series, “Tell Me About Orchard Hollow,” is set in Townsend and will be published this spring.
“The Smoky Mountain series are all contemporary southern fiction - with a generous sprinkling of romance, a dash of suspense, a touch of inspiration and a big dollop of Appalachian flavor,” said Stepp. “Unlike many series books, each novel is a complete story in itself - with a warm, satisfying ending. The link in the series is that each book is set in a different region of the Smoky Mountains, giving the reader a visit to those areas around the mountains with each read.”
She added that the books are interwoven in a way in which characters from one book might walk into another book. For example, a minor character and social worker in “The Foster Girls” becomes the main character in the third book in the series called “For Six Good Reasons.”
“I am fortunate to have nationally-acclaimed artist Jim Gray’s beautiful art work on the cover of all my novels and very grateful to have the praise and support of Dolly Parton for my books,” said Stepp. “My national and regional reviews have been very good - such as the one from the well-known Midwest Review.”
Stepp is frequently out promoting the new series and has an upcoming book signing scheduled for Saturday, September 5, from 2-4 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble store at the Franklin Terrace in Johnson City.
“Many of my students from the past have come out to support me,” said Stepp. “That has been very heartwarming. I love my students - and often keep in touch with them for many years.”
Stepp has taught at Tusculum College for almost ten years and teaches in organizational management program at the Knoxville Regional Center. In the past she has also taught a wide variety of psychology courses.
“My husband’s explorations and hikes in the Smoky Mountains since the 1990s inspired the basis for my novels,” said Stepp. “I found that there were few contemporary novels set in the Smokies region - and yet the Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited park in America. My own relatives trekked down the Appalachian Trail to settle this East Tennessee area. I liked the idea of celebrating this area with contemporary, warm and wholesome novels set right here in our part of the world.”
For more information about Stepp and her novels, see her author’s website at www.linstepp.com.