There’s still plenty of summer left to get lost in a page turner by the pool or beach, and several of this season’s must-read books were penned right here in Charlotte. Joy Callaway, Kim Wright, Erika Marks and Marybeth Whalen are all local authors with novels hitting the shelves this summer. The women joined together as “Authors Out of Carolina”, and will host a party to celebrate their book launches at the Reid House in Matthews on August 28th from 2-4pm. The authors invite you to join them at the event for refreshments, entertainment and readings from their books.
Our hilarious friend and blogger Tracy Curtis is releasing her latest gift book, Beach Bummed, this summer. Beach Bummed is the 3rd volume in her Humor Me series of gift books, collections of her Charlotte Observer columns about the imperfection of motherhood. Beach Bummed compiles the flips and flops in trying to keep everybody happy during the wild ride of summer.
We asked these talented women to share the scoop on their new books and their writing lives in Charlotte. You can buy their books at Park Road Books, Barnes & Noble and via the links below.
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Kim Wright, Author of Last Ride to Graceland
The Scoop on the book: I got the idea for this book while lying in bed one morning skimming the Sunday paper. A headline jumped out at me: LAST RIDE TO GRACELAND, along with an article about the car Elvis Presley drove on the last day of his life. It was a 1973 Stutz Blackhawk, the ultimate muscle car, and the article said only that the vehicle had been “wrapped up like a time capsule” since Elvis died, but was now going to be restored and returned to Graceland.
Something about the situation grabbed at me, especially the words “time capsule,” and by lunchtime I’d sketched out the arc of a story. How Cory Ainsworth, the daughter of one of Elvis’s backup singers, finds the car in the family’s abandoned fishing shed after her mother’s death. There’s no explanation for how the Blackhawk comes to be there but Cory decides to drive it back to Graceland, using the trash she finds in the car to retrace the route her mother made thirty-seven years earlier, when she frantically fled Memphis on the day Elvis died. And since Cory was born 7 months after her parents got married, weighing in at a whopping 9 pounds, 5 ounces, she’s always harbored the fantasy that Elvis Presley was her real father.
Favorite writing spots in Charlotte: I love to write in restaurants and bars. Because of its proximity to my house, I probably write most often in the Char Bar at McKee Farms. I like Sushi 101 at Promenade on Providence too.
Favorite place to read during the summer: My mom has a condo in Cherry Grove and I love to sit on the beach reading away.
Favorite inspiring place in Charlotte: One of Charlotte’s hidden gems is the meditation labyrinth at Avondale Presbyterian Church on Park Road. It’s a magic place!
Favorite beverage: Sauvignon Blanc.
Marybeth Whalen, Author of The Things We Wish Were True (to be released September 1)
The Scoop on the book: My novel, The Things We Wish Were True, is set in a neighborhood in a small town outside of Charlotte. It is about 6 neighbors whose lives become intertwined as a result of being witnesses to a near-drowning incident at their neighborhood pool. The more they get to know each other, the more is revealed, much of which they intended to keep secret. It’s a novel that poses the question: Just how well do you know your neighbors– and what might they be hiding? It’s out 9/1!
Favorite writing spots in Charlotte: I mostly write at home while my kids are in school. We turned our front room (meant to be a formal living room) into my office, with a couch and a desk. It’s a nice sunny spot. Truth be told, I’ve also written a fair amount propped up in bed.
Favorite place to read during the summer: In a lounge chair on the beach, toes in the sand, seagulls squawking, and waves crashing. The pool is also an acceptable substitute.
Favorite inspiring place in Charlotte: Honestly a walk in my own Matthews neighborhood– we have a pond and I love to head there when I need some inspiration. I also love the view from the Knights stadium uptown, Fahrenheit Restaurant, and just sitting outside at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery.
Favorite beverage: I always have my Hornets refillable cup from McAlister’s filled with tea when I’m writing. My reward at the end of the day is a nice cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc, preferably from a New Zealand winery.
Joy Callaway, Author of Fifth Avenue Artists Society
The Scoop on the book: My book is a story of secrets and love and history, but principally it is about the bond between strong women, based on my great-great grandmother and her artistic siblings on the outskirts of Gilded Age New York high society. Pitched by its publisher as Edith Wharton-meets-Little Women, my main character, Ginny Loftin, is an aspiring novelist caught between the boy next door and a mysterious author who inducts her into Manhattan’s most elite artistic salon. Glitter and glamour aside, the story is really about what it means to be both a woman and an artist, and sounds the emotional depths Ginny is willing explore to protect her art, her family, and her chance at love.
Favorite writing spots in Charlotte: I primarily write at home, in my sunroom surrounded by kids’ toys. Even though I try my best to keep my space organized, there are always Disney Barbies, Minnie Mouse figurines, and army action figures lining my desk. My daughter actually colored on my computer screen the other day. Glamorous life, this book writing thing. 🙂
Favorite place to read during the summer: I mostly read–and sweat–on my back deck in the summer, but my absolute favorite place is probably my parents’ lake house in West Virginia. There’s nothing like watching the sun rise over the mountains with a good book.
Favorite inspiring place in Charlotte: SO many places! I grew up in Charlotte and my parents really enjoy history, so I quickly came to love the James K Polk house, Rosedale plantation, Anne Springs greenway, Wing Haven, among others, and they’ve always been my favorite local places that never fail to inspire.
Favorite beverage: Coffee with coconut cream is always next to my computer while I’m writing! I regularly write while my kids nap, so it’s essential to have a pick-me-up.
Erika Marks, Author of The Last Treasure
The Scoop on the book: The Last Treasure tells the story of a marine archaeologist caught between her reckless but devoted husband and her by-the-book ex-boyfriend when the three reunite to salvage a shipwreck off the Outer Banks, and solve a mystery that has haunted her for years: What happened to the schooner carrying Aaron Burr’s daughter Theodosia that disappeared without a trace in 1813?
Favorite writing spot in Charlotte: Oh, I wish I could stay focused writing in a café! But alas, I write in my home office and always to an instrumental station on Pandora.
Favorite place to read during the summer: Anywhere outside and in the shade—I can hunker down for hours with a great read if life allows. And if that outdoor spot is near the ocean, even better!
Favorite inspiring place in Charlotte: When I’m stuck on a scene or a plot point or a character, I walk. One of the things I love most about Charlotte is the amazing Greenway System of walking trails. I used to live right on one in Matthews and would always hit the trail when I needed some space to think a plot through—and even though I’m not as close to it now, I still drive over there to walk from time to time. The lushness of the path, the quiet, the birdsong, all give me a great blend of freedom and focus.
Favorite beverage: Coffee! Cream, no sugar. I will pour myself one cup every morning—in my lucky mug (Yes, I have a lucky mug)—and I will nurse it until noon. True story! That cup starts out piping out and ends up like a yummy iced coffee by the time I finish. Two drinks in one! But as far as what I drink to reward myself after getting down a good chunk of words, that’s an entirely different beverage—usually of the red or white variety. Or if it’s hot, a sturdy glass of sangria loaded with chunks of watermelon and a splash of vanilla.
Tracy Curtis, Author of Beach Bummed (will be released late summer)
The Scoop on the book: My new book is “Beach Bummed: Riding the Wave of Summer” – a collection of stories about being thrown into the deep end of our hottest season. “Beach Bummed” compiles the flips and flops in trying to keep everybody happy during the wild ride of summer and covers beach trips, summer camp, traveling with kids, summer boredom, and my own personal fantasy of going away to Mom Camp. “Beach Bummed” is my third book and joins “Holidazed” and “Trophy Mom” in my Humor Me series of gift books.
Favorite writing spots in Charlotte: I typically write from home – but Amelie’s is a great alternative. I am also a member of a terrific writing group and we often meet at one another’s homes. Where we get NOTHING done.
Favorite place to read during the summer: I just moved into a new house and my living room is light, bright and airy with a beautiful view of the past owner’s incredible landscaping. The perfect place to read!
Favorite inspiring place in Charlotte: My optimal places of inspiration are anywhere there are moms. They are my inspiration for all that is humorous and hilarious in this life!
Favorite beverage: Morning writing requires coffee, and day writing requires a lime flavored La Croix poured over crushed ice. Unlike Hemingway, I can’t write sipping anything stronger that – but at the end of a long day of writing, a chilled chardonnay helps turn my brain off!