Saturday night I had the pleasure of hearing Ann Hite and Karen Spears Zacharias read from and talk about their new novels at wonderful Malaprop’s Bookstore & Café in Asheville, North Carolina. Ann–whom I met at a literary festival last year and who has become a lovely writer-friend–and Karen have been traveling all over the South lately on a book tour. They’ve spent time recently at several places I traveled on my own book tour for Keowee Valley, last Fall, so it was fun to compare notes.
It was wonderful to get to see Ann, especially. She’s one of those people who emanates warmth, she’s funny, and she’s got this creative spark you can literally see shine in her eyes. Her newest novel, The Storycatcher, takes place in two gorgeous places: Black Mountain, North Carolina, and the sea islands of Georgia. This is definitely one to put on your Fall/Winter reading list!
Asheville–crazy, wonderfully nutty Asheville–was a wild scene on Saturday night. I’d tried to convince friends to come with me to the reading, but most were doing the single-parent thing that night with spouses out of town. Others had run in Asheville’s half-marathon that morning, and were just plumb tired. So I went alone, and ended up having to park in a parking garage because of an Icelandic punk rock band playing at the Asheville Civic Center that night. No kidding: there was a line of hipster-punk rockers stretched five people deep around the block. I know because I circled the Civic Center three times looking for a space.
I always roll down my windows when I drive through downtown Asheville. I don’t want to miss the drum circle, the singing, the catcalls. People watching here is PRIME. On my way in Saturday night I passed a gospel choir standing out on a side street belting it out for all they were worth, several street performers and their dogs, folk singers at the drum circle, and more than a few Town and Country types wearing skinny jeans and knee-high leather boots that cost more than my car. Followed by an inordinate amount of white people in full dreadlocks.
I love Asheville! It’s hard not to love a city on a big river in the Blue Ridge, where all are unabashedly welcome.
Anyway. It was a great night, Ann and Karen were wonderful, and I’m excited to have new books to read. Ann also introduced me to Amy Allen, author of Summoning the Mountains, her unique story of hiking the Appalachian Trail as a divorced, single mother of two teenaged boys. Another for the reading list.
Happy sunny Monday to you all!