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Author Mark de Castrique at library on Monday

SALISBURY – Readers are people who have a curiosity about life, says author Mark de Castrique. “They appreciate how stories have the power to raise questions, demonstrate the good in humanity, and teach us how to be better people.”

The author of 18 books and a current resident of Charlotte, de Castrique will headline a Rowan Public Library Book Talk on Monday, July 15, at 6:30 p.m. The event will be in Stanback Auditorium at RPL Headquarters, 201 W. Fisher St. All ages are welcome.

The RPL Book Talk is part of summer reading programming, which this year is themed around “Universe of Stories.” “I reached out to de Castrique because his stories are so popular with our patrons. I have to keep replacing his books in our collection because they get read to tatters and fall apart! His books hit a sweet spot for mystery fans that is layered and intricately-plotted, but also have humor and the familiarity of places and characters we recognize. These books cross age, gender and racial lines with our readers,” said Abigail Hardison, RPL adult services supervisor.

For de Castrique, interactions with his readers are extremely valuable. “I also like hearing what they read into my books that I hadn’t intended, but were valid observations or criticisms.  That’s the beauty of book clubs – everyone reads the same physical book but each reader recreates the story in a personal way.”

He tends to write stories set in places he’s lived, including Western N.C., Charlotte, and Washington, D.C. The Sam Blackman and Barry Clayton series, both popular with RPL readers, take advantage of the Blue Ridge mountain setting, and “A Conspiracy of Genes” is a middle grade book set in a children’s hospital in Charlotte. While the nation’s capital is featured in “The 13th Target,” a political thriller about a former secret service agent framed for murder. “[I] would certainly consider any setting that supported a good story. Murder in the Rowan County Library,” de Castrique joked.

“I think we’d have quite a few readers lined up for that one,” Hardison assured.

Readers will soon have another of de Castrique’s titles to enjoy, too. “Murder in Rat Alley,” a Sam Blackman mystery, will be released at the end of the year. “The case uncovers a murder at an Apollo Space Program tracking facility tucked away in Pisgah National Forest.  Such a site existed and has an interesting history that I use for my story,” he explained.

A reader himself, he also has favorite writers who he appreciates, like Ian Rankin’s “complex and compelling mysteries” and Simon Van Booy’s non-linear narratives: “Van Booy used the technique not as a gimmick but as a finely regimented tool in service to the story,” de Castrique explained.

Fans of de Castrique will have the opportunity on July 15 to learn more about the author’s inspirations. The RPL Book Talk will include a question and answer period after de Castrique’s presentation.

“I’m looking forward to the July 15 program and honored to be invited as part of a Universe of Stories (the 2019 summer reading theme).  Thanks to the Rowan County Library for keeping that universe ever expanding,” said de Castrique.

For more information about this program, contact Hardison at Abigail.Hardison@rowancountync.gov or 704-216-8248.

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