2015 Rowan Reading Rendezvous coming in March

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 30, 2014

By Deal Safrit

For the Salisbury Post

April 2014 saw the debut of Rowan Reading Rendezvous, a  daylong event sponsored by Friends of Rowan Public Library. March 21, 2015, will be the date for area readers to meet authors.

The RRR, as it has come to be called, was a chance for authors, mostly from the Carolinas, to hobnob with their readers and provide the Friends an opportunity to raise money through the sale of the author’s books.

All authors had the chance to speak, and spent the rest of their time “holding court” along the hallways.

The authors unanimously believe their experience was gratifying and worthwhile. Although a few mentioned low book sales, one author said he had sold more books at RRR than at his past six appearances.

Readers also seemed to enjoy themselves, particularly with authors Ann B. Ross and Jason Mott. On the other hand, raising funds for the Friends was pretty much a wash; at least RRR 2014 didn’t lose money.

There was some debate about whether to continue the event in 2015, with the decision being yes, with changes. The event needs more publicity, and so with this article, we will begin regular reports and updates in the Salisbury Post.

RRR will have a Facebook page soon. There is a chance for some private funding for advertising, and media outlets will be pursued in the interest of donating some time or space for the event.

RRR 2015 has moved to March from April to avoid conflicts with other similar events around the South. The area in Rowan Public Library will be reconfigured so authors will all be together in Stanback Auditorium, along with a central book sales area, while a limited number of authors will speak in the Hurley Room.

Only books bought at the event will be allowed in the event hall. All changes are to make the day more interesting and entertaining; most of the changes are being made at the suggestion of the 2014 participating authors.

Authors are still getting invitations. At this point, six authors have committed to come and four are trying to make arrangements to do the same. All accepting authors are excited about the RRR and want to see it succeed.

Several authors have new books out or will have new books out by March.

One of the things that Rowan Reading Rendezvous tries to do, something very few bookshops do anymore, is to have for sale as many of an author’s books as are still available. Attendees will find not only an author’s new work at RRR, but many of their older books as well. After chatting with the author, a visitor may decide to start at the beginning or pick up somewhere else.   

Activities will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday with the first speaker in the Hurley Room. At the same time, the other participants will be set up in Stanback at their tables. Think of having the author visit you in your living room, because that is what it will be like.

Authors will speak in Hurley throughout the day, leading up to the finale author, who will speak at 3 p.m. and finish the event out.

The speaking and discussion schedule will be decided and published closer to the event in March.

Some of the participating authors include Charles Lovett with his new novel “First Impressions,” just out from Viking Penguin, and his first book in the series, “The Bookman’s Tale,” a paperback from Penguin.

Though I haven’t had a chance to read “First Impressions,” I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery, romance and history in “The Bookman’s Tale” as it moves back and forth between North Carolina and England. Lovett is a native North Carolinian, graduate of Woodberry Forest, Davidson College and Vermont College of Fine Arts. He is past president of the Lewis Carroll Society and editor of “The Lewis Carroll Review.” Along with numerous articles, he has written five books about Lewis Carroll and other non-fiction.  He has been an antiquarian bookseller and remains a collector, especially of all things Lewis Carroll, and is writer-in-residence at Summit School where he is also a playwright. He and his wife split their time between North Carolina and Kingham, Oxfordshire.

Jon Sealy is a native of South Carolina living in Richmond, Va. His debut novel from Hub City Press, “The Whiskey Baron,” has received accolades from around the South and beyond. Historical fiction set in South Carolina in the year 1932, it is a haunting novel of family ties and bad choices. The author of numerous published stories, Sealy is a graduate of College of Charleston and Purdue.  Currently available in hardcover, it is possible the paperback will be available by the March event.

Charlotte author Mark de Castrique has long been a favorite of readers in the Rowan area, and the 2015 RRR will not be his first visit to Rowan Public Library.  His most recent book, just out, is “Risky Undertaking,” one of his Buryin’ Barry Mysteries, and his 14th mystery novel, including two written for young adults. De Castrique is also the author of several short stories and plays. He was born in Hendersonville, where his father operated a funeral home, and works in the film and broadcast industries, where he has won an Emmy award for his documentary film work.  Although most of his novels are set in the mountains of North Carolina, several of his novels are set in alternate locations and times.

Anna Jean Mayhew swept onto the literary scene by surprise in 2011 with her novel “Dry Grass of August,” set mostly in Charlotte in the turbulent 1950s and on. A native of Charlotte, Mayhew has always lived in North Carolina, though she travels frequently to Europe with her Swiss-born husband. “Dry Grass of August” quickly became a book club favorite, was a pick of the Southern Independent Bookseller’s Association, and continues to have wide sales and readership. Mayhew is at work on her second novel, “Tomorrow’s Bread,” and those attending the RRR 2015 can hope it will be out in time for the event.

At the last minute in 2014, South Carolina author Dot Jackson had to cancel her appearance at the RRR, but she is now planning on coming to the 2015 event. Jackson is a former journalist who once worked for the Charlotte Observer until she was fired. She wrote her novel, “Refuge,” many years ago and then stored it in her freezer until she could find a publisher.  When it was published by Novella Press, it quickly rose to fame.

Novella Press has folded, her book was declared out of print, and then in the past year an amazing discovery was made: 2,000 copies of “Refuge” were found in a storage room once used by Novella in Charlotte. Jackson, a wonderful story teller, will be at RRR 2015.

Finally, add Holly Goddard Jones to the roster of attending authors. Some readers may remember Jones from the Summer Reading Challenge several years ago when she appeared with her debut novel “The Next Time You See Me.” Jones was also originally scheduled to appear last year but had to cancel because she had won the Kentucky Literary Award for Fiction and was to receive the award at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest (SOKY). She is now working on her second novel and taking care of a young child.

RRR 2015 hopes to host as many as 20 authors in March, and more invitations go out every week. As in 2014, some of the participating authors will be well-known, others not so much. But each author is carefully chosen because of the quality of their work, their appeal to readers, and the idea that March 21 should be a day for both authors and those attending to enjoy each other and come away feeling it was a day well spent.

And it won’t hurt if the public contributes a little something, or a lot of something, to the coffers of Friends of Rowan Public Library by buying some of the books for sale.  Those dollars go toward literacy training and other supporting functions the Friends provide to Rowan Public Library and the area, and they are irreplaceable.

We will keep you updated, and you plan on being there, if not for the whole day, at least for an hour of so.

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