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Literary Lunch: Best-Selling Author Cassandra King

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Literary Lunch: Best-Selling Author Cassandra King

Cassandra King, Widow of Pat Conroy, Featured Guest

South Carolina-based author Cassandra King admits that when she and husband Pat Conroy, who was a literary giant until his death last March, were first married they spoke often about what they were working on. Over the years, that chatter diminished.

“What we did when we first married, it was such a novelty to live with another writer, so we were really into telling each other what we were writing,” she said, then added it became “oh, you have a new book coming out?”

Ms. King, who authored books such as “The Same Sweet Girls,” “Queen of Broken Hearts” and “The Sunday Wife,” will soon speak in Western North Carolina, part of Moonrise_FrontCover[1]the “Books and Bites” literary luncheon at the Lake Lure Inn. The event, which is sponsored by the Friends of the Mountain Branch Library, begins at 11 am on Thursday, Feb. 2.

There will be a meet and greet session, followed by lunch and Ms. King’s presentation and book signing. Ticket information is available by calling 828-287-6392 or by emailing mountainslibraryfriends@gmail.com.

Some of her talk will be on her last book, 2013’s “Moonrise,” which was recently released in paperback, and Mr. Conroy’s posthumous memoir “A Lowcountry Heart: Reflection on a Writing Life,” which she wrote the introduction. “Moonrise” was written in and about Highlands, NC.

Ms. King, herself an avid reader, recently answered some questions from the828 about her writing, her husband’s writings and other topics.

the828: What was your favorite book that you read in 2016 and why?

Ms. King: I can tell you. I was just recently telling someone else about it. It’s called ‘Dispatches From Pluto.’ It’s an unusual title but it makes sense when you know it’s Pluto, Mississippi. It’s a small town. It’s sort of a memoir of a couple who, on a whim, bought this old farmhouse in Pluto, Mississippi. What’s so funny and wonderful about this book are his observations of Southerners because he’s British. He really felt like he had landed on a different planet. I really enjoyed that book.

the828: Which one of your husband’s books is your favorite?

Ms. King: That is an impossible question. I usually answer that by saying it’s different ones for different reasons. I’d have to say if I were stranded on a desert island and could only chose one it would have to be ‘Prince of Tides’ because that one has everything. The beauty of the language and a powerful story, strong characters and all that. I love ‘The Water is Wide.’ I love ‘Lords of Discipline.’ I love ‘The Great Santini.’ There’s just all fabulous and I’m not prestigious, mind you.

Two of South Carolina's most beloved authors: Pat Conroy and Cassandra King.

Two of South Carolina’s most beloved authors: Pat Conroy and Cassandra King.


the828: What advice would you give to someone who wants to write?

Ms. King: What I used to tell my students when I taught creative writing is that there’s a difference between ‘Do you want to be a writer?’ or ‘Do you want to write?’ It’s not as bad as it used to be, but at one point I think people thought being a writer was a glamorous profession – you had Hollywood knocking at your door all the time, you go to mingle with stars and other writers. You get into it and find out you have to write a book first. There’s a distinction between would you write even if no one ever read it or do you have a romanticized idea about being a writer. I always told my students that they’d know which one they are. It takes a real dedication because most of the time you aren’t going to earn a living as a writer. It’s unusual to write full-time. It takes a lot of dedication. It’s easy to get discouraged because it’s a pretty discouraging business. You just have to love it to do it.

the828: Why is the Lowcountry so special to you?

Ms. King: I love it. There’s not anything not to like here. I take that back. There’s one little thing for me. We don’t have many seasons. We have summer and more summer. Of course, I should be used to that since I was raised in Alabama right across from the Florida line. I’ve always thought I’d like cold weather but I don’t know if I would. Other than that I just find the Lowcountry paradise. It’s just beautiful and lush and tropical. The folks here are great.

the828: What is your writing routine?

Ms. King: Most of the time when I’m writing I have a deadline and that’s always good. If you’re writing you can always do something else, especially if you’ve hit a rough spot. You can say ‘I’ll just put that aside for a couple of days,’ and that can become a couple of weeks because you don’t want to tackle it. You just about have to have a routine to get anything accomplished. Having deadlines set up by my publisher has always helped me.

the828: Would you write in the morning or in the evening?

Ms. King: I’m more of a morning person, but I do get obsessed when I’m working on something. I’ll stay up really late and write or I’ll work all day and think ‘Oh, I haven’t had lunch.’ Or ‘oops, I had a doctor’s appointment today.’

Jason Gilmer

Jason Gilmer is a national award-winning writer living in Asheville. He spent a decade as the prep sports writer at the Spartanburg (SC) Herald-Journal and has written one book, "Where Champions Play: Spartanburg County Prep Football." He's been writing about the Asheville music scene for several years and contributes to magazines in North and South Carolina.

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