by Mindy Friddle
The author spoke to a packed auditorium at the library. The local independent bookstore, The Open Book, was on hand selling his books--selling BOXES of them. After a glowing introduction from the director of the library--who had clearly read and loved the book-- the author spoke about the backstory of his novel, the setting, the inspiration, and how several of his characters were based on family members. When he read from the novel for half an hour, audience members--old and young-- were attentive, tittering and nodding, some of them following along in the books in their laps, their fingers moving along sentences.
When the author took questions-- dozens of hands went up-- discussion ensued for another half an hour. Readers recognized familiar landmarks in the novel, and wanted to know more about which of the characters were based on real people in town. A book signing followed. And what a signing! The line of people snaked across the auditorium, holding their books, waiting to talk with the author.
Stephen King? Pat Conroy? James Patterson? Dan Brown?
Nah. Tommy Hays.
Tommy is now a famous author around Greenville, SC. He grew up in Greenville and now lives in Asheville, NC. His novel, THE PLEASURE WAS MINE, was chosen as the first book for our community's "Amazing Read" program. You've probably heard of the "One City One Book" movement--from Chicago to Salt Lake City to Seattle.
If last month's kick-off reading was any indication, the Amazing Read is a success. Certainly, organizers have done an awesome job of promoting this community-wide program.
There are a dozen or so events lined up for the next several months, including:
- a staged reading of THE PLEASURE WAS MINE at a community theatre
- a public reading in spanish
- a contra dance!
- radio and television interviews
- extensive newspaper coverage: full page features!
- a county council proclamation
- Alzheimer panel discussions (The nonfiction handle of the book is Alzheimer's; the protagonist struggles to care for his wife who has the disease.)
- And-- cool, cool, cool-- through sponsorship funds, the library PURCHASED and GAVE AWAY more than 400 copies of the book.
Wouldn't it be awesome if every town and hamlet and city in the South had their own "One City One Book" program?
Mindy Friddle is the author of THE GARDEN ANGEL (St. Martin's Press/Picador) and SECRET KEEPERS (forthcoming from St. Martin's Press/Picador). She is founder and director of the Writing Room, a program for writers in South Carolina. Visit www.mindyfriddle.com and her blog, Novel Thoughts.