Find Your Heart In Lake Martin is one of a collection of children’s ‘A to Z’ books written by Katie Hines Porterfield. These ‘A to Z’ books bring to life special destinations: Seaside, Sewanee, Smith Lake, Cape Charles, The Homestead and our beloved Lake Martin.
You may have seen this book in local stores around the Lake Martin community like Cloud Nine, Tippy Canoe, any of the Russell Lands family of marinas, or Lakeside Mercantile in Dadeville. We caught up with the author and longtime Lake Martin goer, Katie Hines Porterfield, to find out why a part of her heart belongs to Lake Martin and how this special book came to be.
Where were you born?
Katie: I was born in Atlanta and grew up there as well. I went to college at Sewanee and got my Masters in Journalism at the University of Alabama.
When did you start visiting Lake Martin?
Katie: I’ve been going to Lake Martin all my life. My grandfather (my dad’s dad) began leasing a Russell cabin in 1964 in what is now known as Trillium. Russell Lands moved our little cabin to Cocktail Slough in 1992, when I was a sophomore in high school. The 2011 tornado knocked the cabin off its foundation and the cabin was deemed a total loss. Today, we lease a new cabin in the same spot, and my kids and their cousins— the fourth generation of the Hines family—love the lake just as much as the first, second, and third did (and still do!)
What are your favorite memories of Lake Martin?
Katie: Getting married at Lake Martin (Church in the Pines) is definitely at the top of the list, and I’m so glad my husband Forrest, who is from Virginia, likes this Alabama lake as much as I do. But the summers of my childhood are filled with so many great memories, and those memories are the reason I chose to get married there. They include learning to ski, playing in competitive badminton matches on our cabin beach, hopping in the boat to catch sunsets, fishing for catfish with cane poles, watching fireworks every single 4th of July, stargazing at night on the dock, and enjoying amazing meals with my extended family on the screen porch. More than anything, the lake is about time spent with family.
How often do you come back? Do you have favorite spots?
Katie: We are there a few weeks out of the summer and often spend holidays (outside of summer) there. My boys would tube all day long if they could. One of them likes to ski and they both discovered surfing last summer. Thanks to your very own Sawyer Davis, who doubles as a wake surfing instructor, they are getting pretty good at it. They insist on going to “Chimney Rock” (to jump, but not off the top!) at least once a day. They love swimming and jumping off the dock to catch a football thrown by their dad or uncles. And they like doing all of the above with their cousins by their side–just like I did!
How did the book idea start? How did you meet and choose Lila Graves to be the illustrator?
Katie: Shortly after I published my first book about Sewanee, I knew I had to write one about Lake Martin. I wanted to find an illustrator who loved the lake as much as I did. My cousin’s wife suggested Lila. We discussed this around the dinner table at the lake, and my Dad and my Aunt said the Graves had been at Lake Martin even longer than we had. They said my grandfather and Lila’s grandfather were friends. That sealed the deal–I knew Lila was meant to illustrate the book. Lucky for me, she agreed, and I absolutely loved working with her.
A writer based in Nashville, Tennessee, Katie Hines Porterfield has a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies from the University of the South (Sewanee) and a Master’s in Journalism from the University of Alabama. Katie and her husband, Forrest, met at Sewanee, the subject of her first book, and married at Lake Martin, the subject of her second book. Their twin boys inspired her to begin writing books about places close to her heart, and just like that, A to Z Children’s Books was born. A full-time journalist turned freelancer and children’s author, Katie Hines Porterfield is passionate about writing. Her journalism experience includes working as writer and managing editor for Business Tennessee magazine, where she penned the majority of the publication’s cover stories over a three-year period. As a monthly contributor to Her Nashville, Katie profiled female entrepreneurs for the “Her Best” section of the women’s magazine. Before venturing to Nashville, she served as regional reporter for The Tuscaloosa News, where she earned a business news award from the Alabama Associated Press Managing Editors for a three-day series on Alabama’s catfish industry.