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Salisbury native Kristy Woodson Harvey makes NY Times bestseller list

SALISBURY — After writing and publishing several books, Kristy Woodson Harvey achieved something she’s been shooting for since the first.

For the week of May 9, Harvey’s newest book, “Under the Southern Sky,” was No. 8 on the New York Times bestseller list for paperback trade fiction. It was an occasion that prompted Harvey to pop champagne and toast to her readers.

“I am so excited I can’t even stand it,” said Harvey, a Salisbury native who now lives in eastern North Carolina, in video posted to her Facebook page.

She promised to toast to “the greatest readers in the world” as she celebrated the achievement. A little more than a week later, she was still brimming with excitement about the honor as she talked to the Post.

“It has definitely been a goal of mine since that very first book … It was one of the single best days of my whole life,” she said.

While lists compiled by retail stores, merchants and other companies are more clear cut, relying on sales alone, the New York Times list is a “big hazy thing,” she said.

A description of the methodology on the New York Times website says rankings reflect unit sales reported on a confidential basis by vendors offering a wide range of general interest titles published in the United States. When a title ranks on the list, it means sales data from reporting vendors has been provided to The New York Times and satisfied common industry standards, the methodology page states.

“We could have the best numbers, but we don’t know,” Harvey said. “Even though we sort of knew we had the numbers, we thought we had them before.”

The idea for Harvey’s latest book, her seventh, was sparked by a friend faced with questions about what to do with her frozen embryos. Among other reasons, people may decide to store embryos if they want to have a child later in life.

In “Under the Southern Sky,” Amelia Saxton, an investigative journalist, discovers a cluster of embryos belonging to her childhood friend, Parker, and his late wife, Greer, have been deemed abandoned. There are hundreds of thousands of abandoned embryos being stored for future use and not being paid for across the country, Harvey said.

In the book, Parker has been unable to move forward since the loss of his beloved wife three years ago. He has all but forgotten about the frozen embryos, but once Amelia reveals her discovery, he knows that if he ever wants to get a part of Greer back, he’ll need to accept his fate as a single father and find a surrogate.

Harvey said she started writing “Under the Southern Sky” in early 2019 and finished it in March or April 2020. It was published April 20, 2021, by Gallery Books and Simon & Schuster. It’s 400 pages. Besides The New York Times honor, the book has received “really incredible” feedback, including a “starred review” in Publisher’s Weekly.

Alissa Redmond, owner of South Main Book Co., said the book has been one of the store’s bestsellers since preorders started rising in March.

In her own review of the book, Redmond said, “There is such depth of characters and plot on display; Cape Carolina comes alive in this novel — and I hope I get a chance to revisit this charming town in another KWH production very soon.”

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