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Bryan Batt

Batt is known for his role in Mad Men as Salvatore Romano, an art director for the Sterling Cooper agency. A memorable episode concerning Sal came in the 2009 season premiere when Batt's character shared an intimate moment with a male bellhop, until, that is, a fire alarm forced everyone out of the hotel. In 2010, Batt released his memoir, She Ain't Heavy, She's My Mother. The book, which was published in paperback in April, chronicles Batt's childhood in New Orleans and his mother's supportive presence. "She was way ahead of her time,'' said Batt during a recent phone conversation.

What's on your nightstand?

For a trip to Italy, I just got done reading Casanova by Ian Kelly. I didn't realize just how much that guy got around and how crazy the society was at that time. It was so lax morally, a real Studio 54 way back. It's a great book, but he needed a switch to turn off that libido.

You seem to naturally write within the Southern lit genre. Do you have one or two Southern authors who inspired you?

Ellen Gilchrist's In the Land of Dreamy Dreams was part of the inspiration for me to try creative writing. I think what you're talking about is the fact that Southern writers take a very serious subject and never lose sight of humor. In my opinion, you can see this in the great play by Beth Henley, Crimes of the Heart, or Bobby Harling's Steel Magnolias. They both take heavy subjects but show no matter what, there's always humor in life.