Grace Lee Eudora Abbott

May 20, 2018

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we talk with Northeast Arkansas Delta writer Talya Tate Boerner. Her novel The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee, published by Southern Yellow Pine Press, focuses on the Abbott family, torn apart by illness, who find the strength in salvation that comes with facing down one's demons.  

This episode will air Friday May 25 at 7 pm (CST) and Sunday May 27 at 9 pm (CST)  on KUAR 89.1.  

Boerner writes:

"From the very beginning, my life was tainted. Momma saw to it that by giving me a long ridiculous name--Grace Lee Eudora Abbott.

When I eventually asked Momma about my long name, she gave an equally long explanation: Grace, because I was born on a Tuesday morning, and Tuesday's child was full of grace--whatever that meant; Lee, because that was Daddy's first name; and, Eudora, after his favorite author Eudora Welty."

As the daughter of an Arkansas farmer, Boerner grew up playing in the cotton fields of Mississippi County while perfecting the art of making mudpies. After high school, she moved to Texas for college. Boerner graduated from Baylor University with an economics degree primarily because her Daddy said, “If I’m paying for college, you’ll get a business degree.” So that’s what she did.

Author Talya Tate Boerner

For nearly thirty years, Boerner lived in Dallas, built a successful banking career, married, raised two incredible children and enjoyed life—all the while planning to someday return to Arkansas.

In 2011, after an “aha” moment, she left banking to pursue her dream of writing. Now she lives in Fayetteville with her husband and splits time between Northwest Arkansas and Northeast Arkansas where she still looks after her family farm in Mississippi County.

Boerner’s debut  novel, The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee,  is fiction, yet it is based in her childhood in Northeast Arkansas.  

Boerner is a regular contributor to Arkansas Farm Bureau’s Front Porch Magazine, Only in, and Delta Crossroads. Her work has been published in Arkansas Review, Postcard Shorts, The Write Life, and Deep South Magazine. For more juicy details, Boerner explain she constantly "overshares" on her personal blog, Grace Grits and Gardening.

Thank you to musicians Scott and Rosanna, Becca Mancari, Scott Wollschleger, Mandy McBryde, Grace Askew and  Adam Faucett.  Enjoy the music in this and other A&L Radio episodes? Visit our Spotify Play List and follow these artists who share their music.

Listen to the song "Paper Airplanes" from Spotify by Scott and Rosanna.

Listen to the song "Golden" from Spotify by Becca Mancari.

Listen to the song "You've Had Enough" by Mandy McBryde

Listen to the song "Scaredy Cat" from Spotify by Grace Askew.

Thank you to actors James Greene, Michael Heavner, Jo McDougall and Lizzy Paige Wells.

Thank you to Stickyz Rock 'N' Roll Chicken Shack for keeping music alive and well in Arkansas. 

Generous funding for this episode was provided by the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  

Contact Arts & Letters Radio at or via phone at 501-569-8485.  Our mailing address is:  Arts & Letters Radio | KUAR 89.1  | 5820 Asher Avenue, Suite 400  | Little Rock, AR   72204

Executive Producer & Host:  J. Bradley Minnick


Producer: Mary Ellen Kubit

Recorded by J. Bradley Minnick