Tina McElroy Ansa is a novelist, publisher, filmmaker, teacher and journalist. But above all, she is a storyteller and cultural icon.
She is at work on her sixth novel, FROM NOW ON, to be published by DownSouth Press, the independent publishing company Ms. Ansa established nearly a decade ago.
In addition, Ms Ansa plans to publish her first work of nonfiction entitled
“Secrets of a Bogart Queen” in the Spring of 2017.
Ms. Ansa received an honorary Doctorate of Arts from her alma mater Spelman College in April of 2011.
The next month, First Lady Michelle Obama quoted passages from Ms. Ansa’s first novel BABY OF THE FAMILY in her 2011 remarks at Spelman College’s commencement.
Later that summer, the writer was the recipient of the 2011 Bebe Moore Campbell Memorial Award from the National Book Club Conference. She has been awarded the Stanley W. Lindberg Award for her body and work and for contributions to the literary arts community of Georgia.
Like many Southern writers, Ms. Ansa has filled her life with the word.
In the fall of 2004, Ms. Ansa established the Annual Sea Island Writers Retreats on Sapelo Island, Georgia. The annual retreats seek to assist emerging and established writers in honing their work and skills in fiction, non-fiction, memoir and editing in sessions with professional writers and editors. In 2006, she extended the writers retreats throughout the country with Sea Island Writers Retreats…On the Road. The traveling retreat is held in Atlanta, Georgia on Spelman College’s campus annually in April. Ms. Ansa also private Sea Island Writers Retreats for colleges, writers conferences and smaller motivated groups.
Since 2007, Ms. Ansa has shared a partnership with the international fashion design company TIBI. She is proud to wear the label’s fashions on her book tours, speaking engagements and performances with the international storytelling organization The MOTH.
With the Peabody Award-winning organization The Moth, she has told some of her own stories before audiences of more than 1,500 at Moth shows at Town Hall in Times Square and at Cooper Union Hall in New York City. Her stories can be heard on “The Moth Radio Hour” on hundreds of Public Radio Exchange stations around the country.
Tina McElroy Ansa has been a regular contributor to the award-winning television series CBS Sunday Morning with her essays, “Postcards from Georgia” which were filmed on location on her beautiful Georgia Sea Island home of St. Simons Island.
Her first novel BABY OF THE FAMILY, a “New York Times Notable Book of the Year,” was selected for the 2002 list “25 Books Every Georgian Should Read.” In 2005, her second novel UGLY WAYS, which was nominated for a NAACP Image Award and remained on the Blackboard Bestsellers List for four (4) years running, was included in that year’s list of 25 Books Every Georgian Should Read, as was TAKING AFTER MUDEAR on the 2008 list. The lists are compiled and issued by the Georgia Center for the Book. Ms Ansa has been inducted into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent at the Gwendolyn Brooks Center of Chicago State University
Her fifth novel, TAKING AFTER MUDEAR, a sequel to her bestselling second novel UGLY WAYS and the lead title on DownSouth Press’s first list, was published in Spring 2008. As with all her novels, the late nationally acclaimed artist and Spelman Sister Varnette P. Honeywood created an original artwork for the new book’s jacket cover.
Ms. Ansa calls herself part of a writing tradition, one of those little Southern girls who always knew she wanted to tell stories. She grew up in Middle Georgia in the 1950’s hearing her grandfather’s stories on the porch of her family home and strangers’ stories downtown in her father’s juke joint, which have inspired Mulberry, Georgia, the mythical world which is the setting of her four earlier novels, BABY OF THE FAMILY, UGLY WAYS, THE HAND I FAN WITH and YOU KNOW BETTER.
In March 2007, Ms. Ansa launched the independent publishing company, DownSouth Press, with its focus on African-American literature — fiction and nonfiction. DownSouth will publish established as well as emerging literary voices.
Currently, Ms. Ansa and her filmmaker husband Jonee’ Ansa (AFI) who live on St. Simons Island, GA, also are adapting BABY OF THE FAMILY as a feature film.
As part of her new incarnation as a raconteur, in February of 2011, Ms. Ansa traveled to New York City to perform on the main stage of the MOTH monthly event. She shared a story to an audience of 900 at the Cooper Union Great Hall on the same stage where Sojourner Truth gave her historic“Ain’t I a Woman Speech.”
As a raconteur, she was also part of the premier October 2010 Unchained Tour of storytellers traveling to 12 cities and towns in Georgia to share stories and support independent book stores.
In the fall of 2004, Ms. Ansa established the Sea Island Writers Retreats on Sapelo Island, Georgia. The annual retreats seek to assist emerging and established writers in honing their work and skills in fiction, non-fiction, memoir and editing in sessions with professional writers and editors. In 2006, she extended the writers retreats throughout the country with Sea Island Writers Retreats…On the Road. The traveling retreat has been held in Atlanta, Georgia on Spelman College’s campus annually in April.
In addition, in the last five years, Ms. Ansa has taken her Sea Island Writers Retreats on the road to students and communities at colleges and universities including Savannah State University, Georgia College, University of Georgia, and Bethune-Cookman College in Florida.
Together with Spelman Sister Dazon Diallo of SisterLove Inc., in the spring of 2006, Ms. Ansa launched the South African African-American SisterLove Sisters Sharing (SAAASSS) book program that collects sizable numbers of signed books from African-American women authors that are shared with book clubs and organizations of women in South Africa.
Ms. Ansa writes magazine and newspaper articles, Op-Ed page pieces and book reviews for the Los Angeles Times, New York Newsday, The Atlanta Constitution, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Charlotte Observer, and the Florida Times-Union.
In addition to lecturing and reading at universities, colleges, libraries, conferences, book festivals and bookstores around the country, the author has lectured at the Smithsonian’s African-American Center’s Author’s Series, the Richard Wright/Zora Neale Hurston Foundation, the PEN/Faulkner Reading Series, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Schomburg Center and the PEN American Center in New York City.
She has been a writer-in-residence, teacher and workshop leader numerous times at her alma mater Spelman College.
Ms. Ansa is an avid gardener, birder and naturalist. She always has collard greens, basil and moonflowers growing in her garden.