Book launch held for Salisbury native’s 11th novel

Published 12:05 am Saturday, June 29, 2024

SALISBURY — The Historic Hall House was the setting for the book launch for Kristy Woodson Harvey’s newest book, “A Happier Life,” which was released by Gallery Books on June 25.

Historic Salisbury Foundation and South Main Book Company partnered in organizing the launch.

The historic home provided a great backdrop for the event, said Beth Woodson, Kristy’s mom, who along with her dad Paul, also helped in organizing and assisting at the launch.

Harvey said she was contacted by Sherry Beck, chairman of the Preservation Advocacy Committee for Historic Salisbury Foundation, who asked her thoughts on having a launch at the house and after reaching out to Alissa Redmond, owner of South Main Book Company, they agreed on moving it to the South Jackson Street location.

It was an especially fitting spot to launch the book, because, Harvey said, “I wanted to have something that connected these two stories (of Keaton and Becks) through time, so I decided to make the old homes tour in Beaufort that event, which connects these two women’s stories through time.”

“A Happier Life,” which is Salisbury native Harvey’s 11th novel, is set in Beaufort, where she makes her home with husband Will Harvey and son Will. This is her first to be set in Beaufort, which she said is surprising, “but I think I just finally knew Beaufort well enough to be able to really write it, but it was a lot of fun to get to research this place and the past.”

The launch event, in addition to providing a great spot for book fans to come and mingle and enjoy refreshments and hear Harvey speak, was also a great way to promote the Hall House, Beck said, and “let people enjoy something that’s been here forever, a jewel of Salisbury.”

Many of her fans had purchased copies of her book, either prior or from the book tables there and took this opportunity for her to sign them. 

The yard soon filled, and the line waiting for that chance to see Harvey stretched down the walkway from the porch of the home back to the street. She chatted with those who visited the table and also took time to have her photo taken with them thanking them for coming and supporting her.

Cousins Rebecca and Barbara Luffman from Elkin both commented on how she and her family are very personable with all of her readers and make you feel very welcome.

Those attending the event came from very close, as Leah Campion said she lived across the street, and from other parts of Salisbury as well as surrounding areas including Elkin, Kannapolis, Clemmons, Kernersville and Charlotte and as far away as West Virginia. 

Linda Heinkel, from Parkersburg, West Virginia, had heard about the book signing and had been doing some additional sightseeing, and came to get her third book and get it signed. 

Kristen Hodges said this was her third such book signed for Harvey she had attended and she keeps coming back because “the books are good, and I also like the camaraderie, people who are like-minded who appreciate local authors and it’s a beautiful day.” 

Campion said this was her first book signing, but “I have all her books. I’ve read all of her books,” she said. 

As people arrived and mingled, they were treated to live music the band Minnow. 

Later in the evening, Harvey made her way to the second story balcony where she spoke to the gathered crowd thanking them for coming to celebrate her new novel.

“You’re not supposed to have favorites of your children, but I will tell y’all confidentially this is my favorite book I’ve ever written,” Harvey said. “I love it very much because it’s very personal to me for a lot of reasons. It’s really the intersection of several stories that have occupied my imagination for decades.”

She provided some of those personal details that went into the book and some of the storyline, but not enough to give away the story for her readers.

Harvey did share some information telling how she got to this point in her career. While she loves the town of Beaufort, she said that Salisbury would have her heart as it is where she was born and raised and “even more important than that,” she said, “it is where I got my start as a writer, which ended up changing my life” having started with an internship with the Salisbury Post.

She graduated from UNC Chapel Hill and upon graduation, went to apply for a job at a newspaper but there were no openings. She proceeded to get a job in finance, she said, telling that math is the one thing she doesn’t like.

It was while driving around talking with clients that she came up with ideas for a creative writing class. Writing them down, she decided to try writing a book and see what would happen. She didn’t expect it to be published but it would be a good thing to tell her grandkids that she had done.

One manuscript turned into three and her husband asked if they were just going to remain in the closet or if she was going to try to get them published.

She got a literary agent and while trying to sell one manuscript, she finished another and entered it into a writing contest which resulted in a phone call from the editor with Penguin Random House who was the final judge for the contest wanting to buy her debut novel, “Dear Carolina” in 2015.

“Even then I had no idea I would still be doing this 11 books later, Harvey said. “It has been an amazing, amazing few years and I am so grateful that I still get to do that thing that I love so much and I get to do it because of readers like you.”

The event concluded with a time for questions and first was where do you get your inspiration. She said it’s told that one should write what they know about, and knowing about small town south is what she comes back to in her novels.

She did say she doesn’t “usually know where I’m going before I sit down and start writing and it just sort of comes as I go along.” 

Another question was what is your next book about, Harvey said she had already written another and turned it in so she could share that title. It is called “Beach House Rules” and is about “a small southern town, moms, multi-generational, all those things I love,” she said.

When asked what she hopes her readers will take with them after reading it, she said, “I think that discovering where we came from is a great way to help us move forward in our new path and it’s never too late to start over or find a new chapter.”

It was a great turnout for the launch and Redmond said it was a fantastic opportunity to partner with the foundation and “we have had a really fun time.”

Seeing all the people show up for Kristy, her mom said, “it’s amazing. It’s wonderful. It feels so good,” and her dad, Paul Woodson, commented how they had taught her to work and study.

“She’s always been a worker,” he said, “and she’s nice to everybody and never says anything unkind about anybody.” 

Being able to come back to Salisbury for the launch was an honor, Harvey said.

“This town raised me and has given me so much and I’m so grateful for the town and the Post and for all the incredible lessons I learned here and so I can’t think of a better place to launch a book about a woman who is discovering what home and family really mean because that’s what I have here,” she said.