I don’t live in Wilmington, NC, but sometimes it seems like home. It is the town where my first publisher released my first book. My first review was written by homeboy Ben Steelman, who’s now published the first review of my second book. The bookstore where I first read here, Bristol Books, is no longer in business, but the manager, Nicki Leone, is still in town and still making books her living–now working for SIBA, the great independent bookstore organization for the South. A new independent bookstore, Pomegranate Books, owned by Kathleen Jewell, is a jewel of a store,
with a big wicker chair for an author to sit in, and rows and rows of favorite books on the tables and shelves. Now Accidental Birds of the Carolinas takes its place on the shelves.
Rarely have I had a reading feel like a reunion! Last night’s reading crowd included Kelly, whose childhood curiousity about my (somewhat gritty) writing can now be assuaged–he’s all grown up now!; Blonnie, who’s now published two novels of her own; her writing group friend Peggy; my old pal
Virginia Holman, memoirist and ficiton writer, plus her beautiful LARGE son and husband; Jonnye, a great reader and friend since the day a tornado busted up a reading in Southport and we just sat and told stories; Nan, a fellow author at Coastal Carolina, whose Southern voice rings out famously on WHQR commentaries; Dorothy, the stalwart librarian of a terrific town library. It is extraordinary to have gathered around me such loyal readers and friends. Thank you all for making “book tour” an embodiment of the motto I stole from lovely Margaret in E.M Forster’s HOWARDS END: “Only connect. ”
For surely that is what we do when we read and talk and listen together.