Map of NC

Map of NC

November 16, 2022

An Interview With The Roasted Bookery

North Carolina Literary Map was given the opportunity to interview The Roasted Bookery! They are the only Black-owned independent bookstore in Wilmington, North Carolina. The Roasted Bookery is owned by Jerry and Erin Jones, and actively works to spotlight inclusive/diverse Young Adult and Children's literature. Read more about Jerry and Erin's venture in this interview!

Why do you think the North Carolina Literary Map is important for bookstores?

Digital information by its very nature is fragmented and siloed. More often than not, a trusted source of information is necessary to collate that information and present it in a neutral and non-biased format. This is even more true for independent bookstores as we typically don’t have the resources to blast our presence across all digital platforms and really rely on word of mouth and relationship based conversions. The NC Literary Map serves the purpose of gathering all of this information and planting it in one, trusted location so that we (indieshops) can be found. Plus, it has the added bonus of amplifying our presence. Tell us more about your store, including its history and location. 

Why did you choose North Carolina?

Jerry and I are both former teachers who left the profession last year.  We decided to make the jump into small business and fulfill a dream of owning a bookstore.  We started as an online only and have moved to pop ups around our town, Wilmington.   We are looking for a brick and mortar as well in order to complete our dream.  This has proved challenging, but we really love being in the community with our pop ups and feel we will have a strong following by the time we do move into a building.  Wilmington has been our home for almost 22 years and we don’t see leaving in the near future.  We are both from North Carolina.

What is unique about your bookstore? Also, what types of books does your store stock and specialize in?

We have a carefully curated selection of books that highlight BIPOC and LGBTQ+ characters and authors.  We believe that representation matters in life and in literature.  People who see themselves, and really see people who are not like themselves, as protagonists in books allow for stronger connections to community and greater critical thinking skills.  

What’s your favorite section of the store?

Jerry - My favorite section of the store is our science fiction and fantasy collection. Fundamentally, I’ve almost always preferred books that talk about what the world could be like. I read stuff like Tolkien, David Eddings, Glenn Cook, etc. Of course, I devoured The Wheel of Time, though when I first started that series there were only…5 or 6 books out, maybe? That is what I had access to in our local library in Bladenboro, NC where I grew up. Finding a world of fantasy and science fiction where the authors looked like me and the characters authentically sounded like me was mind-blowing. I love books steeped in west African mythology and Afrofuturism. Okorafor and Adeyemi come to mind. “Next” on my TBR is the work of Nalo Hopkinson whose work is rooted in the Afro Caribbean diaspora. Rooted in the African American experience is a work like A Song Below Water by Bethany Morrison. Love, love, love. I know that I’m missing a ton but those are the works that are top of mind for me. Oh, how could I leave what I’m currently reading? I’m finishing Cazadora by Romina Garber. It is contemporary fantasy duology that tackles immigration/emigration, gender roles, patriarchy all set against a backdrop of Argentenian folklore. I had just finished Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy, and I needed something different (I almost wrote lighter but that’s the wrong word).

Erin – This is the hardest question.   I primarily read YA fiction and love it all.  I live compilations of short stories (currently: A Phoenix Must First Burn) because you get a taste of many different authors.  I also trend toward dystopian fiction.  This is both a good and bad thing.  Seeing a world that may not be too far off in the future can be terrifying, but also can give a sense of hope (currently listening: Our Missing Hearts).   Books that add a little supernatural or cultural lore to their stories also intrigue me.  Skin of the Sea flawlessly executes the lore of mermaids this way and takes you into a place of magic.   I like books that have messages but aren’t too “preachy”.  This can be found in nonfiction books like Rise Up  and  Stamped, as well as in fiction like Sanctuary and A Song Below Water.  In all of these books, the messages are clear and allow the reader to learn while reading without the feeling of being taught.    It is very hard for me to pick a specific genre, other than YA, as I think there is so much to offer.  If I can get lost in a book or learn something from it, I am 100% in. 

What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to your business?

As a virtual and pop up shop, currently, we work a lot.  I would say we put in at least 40-50 hours a week each.  I am sure this amount of time will increase when we have a brick and mortar, especially in the beginning.  We strive to have a work/life balance since this was one of the reasons we left teaching.  With flexible hours, we are able to spend the time we want with the kids and doing things around the house while balancing our time with the business as well.

Do you think it’s important for a bookseller to be actively involved in the community? If so, how are you involved in your local community?

100000%.  Community is vitally important!  We believe that everyone should be seen and heard, and what better way to live that than by being in the community.  We work to balance our markets at a variety of venues around town.  We work with local businesses and organizations that we feel fit into the culture we strive to promote.  We volunteer at community events and attend small business gatherings offered in town.  We also talk to anyone who walks into our booth, both about books and community issues.  We continue to push ourselves, as we are both homebodies, to be out and about and make community connections and relationships.  This will only help our business to grow.

March 9, 2022

An Interview with Dog-Eared Books

In honor of Women's History Month, the NC Literary Map had the opportunity to interview a female-owned online bookstore that is located in Raleigh, NC. Dog-Eared Books was co-founded and owned by Stephanie Stegemoller. In interviewing Stephanie, she shows flexibility, determination, and creativity independent bookstore owners have in the face of the COVD-19 pandemic.

1. Why do you think the North Carolina Literary Map is important for bookstores?

    North Carolina Literary Map is important for bookstores because it's another avenue for customers to find independent bookstores to support. 

2.  Tell us more about your store, including its history and location.  Why did you choose North Carolina?

    My friend Caitlynne and I (Stephanie) started Dog-Eared Books in Raleigh in the spare bedroom of her house, in August 2016. We sold on Amazon and went to the NC Fairgrounds once a month selling books for $1 to build our social media presence. In April 2017, we opened our brick-and-mortar. During COVID, we had to close our brick-and-mortar, but started selling books on our own website Caitlynne left the business in December 2021. Our brick-and-mortar is still closed, but we sell online through our website, Amazon, Biblio, Bookshop, and Libro. Orders can be picked up or shipped nationwide. 

3. What is unique about your bookstore? Also, what types of books does your store stock and specialize in?

Our bookstore is women-owned and operated. We're exclusively an online seller with thousands of titles on our website, Amazon, and Biblio. All orders placed through these avenues are picked, packaged, and shipped by members of our team. Our most popular sections are adult fiction and kids books of all types. 

4. If you had infinite space what would you add?

    Infinite space for us would mean more room for our online inventory. 

5. What’s your earliest/best memory about visiting a bookstore as a child?

    There was a small library in my hometown that we would occasionally visit. I don't remember a specific visit, but memories being there remind me of the smell and the sound of the creaking floors as I walked through the shelves. 

6. What’s been the biggest surprise about running a bookstore?

    Owning a bookstore is a lot less romantic than it's described in books. There is a lot of physical labor involved (books are heavy!) with unloading our shipments of new inventory, and shelving, packaging, and shipping our orders. 

7. If you weren’t running or working at a bookstore, what would you be doing?

    I often think about this question and right now, I'm not entirely sure. I've loved my life these past few years and the lifestyle I've been able to have while owning a bookstore. I used to do more acting (I did some training a few years back), so maybe I'd try to go on more auditions. 

8.  What characteristics do you think a person needs to be a successful independent bookstore owner? What has been the key to your success?

    The most important part of owning any business is motivation. You have to be self-motivated. You have to understand that just because you "can" miss work doesn't mean you should. No one is holding you accountable, but yourself. On the same note, it has always been very important to me to take the time when I need to especially when it involves family (holidays, family vacations, etc.). If you don't allow yourself some time off, you'll burn out. Finding a balance between hard work and taking time off is key.

9. What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to your business?
    I usually work from about 8a-2p everyday. I take one 15 minute lunch break. The first hour is usually catching up on emails, messages, bills. After that, I'll go through my supply sorting into different categories for further processing which my staff handles. The rest of the day is spent adding new inventory to our online platforms. Every other Wednesday I'm out picking up more books from my supplies. 

10. What do you think the future looks like for independent booksellers?

    COVID did a real number on many small business. Those that survived had to adapt to this new environment. I believe that if independent brick-and-mortar bookstores have made it this far, they will be just fine. Even though we had to close our brick-and-mortar, I feel lucky to have remained "open" for my customers so they still have access to cheap books. There is something special about holding a book in your hand and reading it and I believe enough people recognize that. The push to "shop small" and "support local" is encouraging to independent bookstores. 

11. Do you think it’s important for a bookseller to be actively involved in the community? If so, how are you involved in your local community?

    I think being active in the community is important for booksellers. We've been donating to local schools and non-profits since we started. It helps to get your business's name out there, but also spreads the love of reading. I love knowing where our kids books go because if you can get a child to fall in love with reading, it will change their life. 

12. Who is one author you’d like to have dinner with, dead or alive?

    Lemony Snicket would be an interesting person to have dinner with. I loved The Series of Unfortunate Events as a child and it always intrigued me that he never had a picture of himself in the "about the author" section or if there was, his back was turned. 

13. Is there anything else you’d like our followers to know?

    Our bookstore is located in Raleigh, NC. If you're looking for cheap, gently used books, we're a great option. We offer free porch pick-up for the locals or shipping nationwide. I also created a couple of videos to teach customers how to support small businesses while shopping on Amazon and Biblio. Both videos can be found on the website

Thank you again Stephanie for allowing the NC Literary Map to interview you and please check out Dog-Eared Books for your next book!

February 25, 2022

An Interview with Golden Fig Bookstore

Greetings and Happy Friday! The pandemic has impacted all of us, especially small businesses. The NC Literary Map will be utilizing the blog to interview independent bookstores in NC. The first of these bookstores we will be interviewing is Golden Fig Books, located in Durham NC. The store has been around since 2019 and owner, David Bradley, took time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions. Thank you David!

1.      Why do you think the North Carolina Literary Map is important for bookstores?

·        I think the NC Literary Map is important for all book lovers! But particularly for bookstores because it's another way for people to find us if they want to support independent bookstores but don't quite know where to start. It's also a great way to see the deep literary history of our state!

2.      Tell us more about your store, including its history and location.  Why did you choose North Carolina?

·        Golden Fig is located right in the heart of Durham in the same building as the renowned bakery and restaurant Guglhupf! I went to UNC for college in 2007 and fell in love with the Triangle, so it's been where I've worked and lived for over a decade now and I knew it would be the perfect place to open up a bookshop. Golden Fig's primary focus is on gently used books, but we also highlight a selection of new books and children's books. We're a small shop (about 1,000 square feet) so we focus on filling our shelves with a highly-curated selection of titles we love. I opened the Fig in May of 2019, so we were not quite a year old when the pandemic hit. Thankfully, though, I had our website up and running before the store opened and customers ordering new books and browsing our entire used book selection on our website was instrumental in getting us through the months when we were closed for browsing. Now we're open for browsing again and are hoping to start having author readings and other events as we get the pandemic under control (fingers crossed).

3.      What is unique about your bookstore? Also, what types of books does your store stock and specialize in?

·        The Fig is unique in our selection and display of used books. We specialize in gently used books so a lot of the time people don't even realize our books are used until they check the price and see that it's half what they were expecting! We go to great lengths to find books for the store, so even though we are pretty picky about the condition of books we bring in, we still make sure we have a diverse and interesting selection of titles for people to peruse.

4.      What’s your favorite section of the store?

·        I almost feel like I should say the Children's section as that was where I slept in the weeks leading up to the store opening when I had too much to do to go home for the night. But my favorite section to look through is probably SciFi/Fantasy as that's one of my favorite genres to read and it's also right next to our curved wall of used fiction which might be my favorite physical feature of the store.

5.      If you had infinite space what would you add?

·        More books, obviously! We certainly use the Fig's smaller stature as a strength by curating and selecting as well as we possibly can but, as a book lover with hundreds and hundreds of books in my house, I will always have a desire for more books. Throw in a pizza oven and I probably wouldn't ever leave the shop.

6.      What’s your earliest/best memory about visiting a bookstore as a child?

·        This is tough because my brain has not done a good job of retaining childhood memories, so I'm going to cheat and say it was my post-college bookstore road trip where I visited 44 independent bookstores across the country. I partnered with Algonquin Books (a publisher right in Chapel Hill) and wrote little feature articles about the bookstores I visited. It was this trip that really cemented my love of independent bookstores and my desire to be a bookseller which eventually led me to opening Golden Fig Books!

7.      What’s been the biggest surprise about running a bookstore?

·        The community! If you had told me that there'd be a pandemic within the first year we opened I honestly would not have expected to still be here. But the support from the community has been absolutely amazing and that's honestly the only way that we've been able to survive. Durham is an incredible city and seeing how many people have gone out of their way to lend us support and encouragement has really blown me away.

8.      If you weren’t running or working at a bookstore, what would you be doing?

·        Haha, this is the hardest question on here. I've been so focused on working in bookstores, saving up for the Fig, or actually opening it that I kinda can't imagine my life without it. I'll say that, without bookselling, I would have really honed my super rusty juggling skills and joined Cirque Du Soleil.

9.      What characteristics do you think a person needs to be a successful independent bookstore owner? What has been the key to your success?

·        I'm not sure that I'd say I've had success yet, honestly. I think the Fig is in a good place and heading in a good direction, but I don't think I'll call it a success until I'm able to pay myself and my employees not just a living wage, but a robust wage, while still providing the kind of customer service and community events that I envisioned when I first opened the store. Of course, like everything, the pandemic has had a major effect on what has been possible for us in these first few years so I'd say that the most important characteristic for independent bookstore owners to have is flexibility and a willingness to roll with the punches when the unexpected occurs.

10.   What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to your business?

·        Well the first two years I was the only one working at the shop, so I would be manning the counter for all 50+ hours the store was open each week and then would spend a lot of my free time working on the website, cleaning the shop, responding to emails, and searching everywhere for good used books to stock our shelves. Fortunately I now have a store manager, Es, who is a superstar and has helped me live a more balanced life. So now I spend closer to 30 hours a week at the shop and then do another 15-20ish hours of the more behind-the-scenes administrative work.

11.   What do you think the future looks like for independent booksellers?

·        After the way the last two years have gone I don't feel confident at all in making predictions about the future, but overall I think things are in a really positive place for independent bookstores. Not many people know but, prior to the pandemic, the number of independent bookstores in the country had grown for 8 or 9 consecutive years. I think people have come to realize that bookstores can be magical places of discovery and are important for creating and nurturing a community so they've really shown up to support the stores they care about. And Durham is a great example of a community doing exactly that.

12.   What advice do you have to offer to an author who would like to conduct an event at your store?

·        Well first I guess I'd say wait until the pandemic is under control enough for us to be comfortable doing events. But, aside from that, the biggest thing for us is that the author is interested in developing and maintaining a relationship with us and with the community. The Triangle is such a creative and artistic place so we have the good fortune of lots of local authors but that also means we have to be quite selective about the events that we host. So we're always going to be more likely to work with an author who has shown interest in us or in our community beyond just having their book featured. I'm actually in the midst of reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer which speaks so much about the ideas of giving and reciprocity, and that's very much how we like to operate with our local authors. It's about building relationships and community rather than simply selling a few books on a particular night.

13.   Do you think it’s important for a bookseller to be actively involved in the community? If so, how are you involved in your local community?

·        So this is actually a tricky question to me. The short answer is that, yes, it always helps for booksellers to be involved in their community as that exposes us to more people and ideas, which allows us to bring in books that speak to the specific problems our community may be facing.

·        However, I also think an expectation of community involvement outside of the job, especially in any specific capacity, is a rather dangerous prospect. Our store manager, Es, recently told me about the concept of Vocational Awe, which specifically relates to librarians but I feel has a fair amount of crossover to booksellers as well. It's the idea that, by considering libraries sacred places of inherent good, librarians become emotionally invested in their work as their primary sense of identity and feel encouraged to always do more and more and more for their jobs, despite low pay and at the expense of work/life balance. In the end, being a librarian or a bookseller is a job. It's a job that I love and believe is very valuable, but there shouldn't be anything required of booksellers beyond doing their job well.

14.   Who is one author you’d like to have dinner with, dead or alive?

·        I'm going to have to go with Sylvia Plath. The Bell Jar had a huge impact on me when I was in college and struggling with depression without knowing what it was. It was the book that helped me understand what I was going through and figure out who I am, in a way. Plus I think Plath's writing is so beautiful, I could probably read anything by her and be amazed, so I'd love to know what she was like in person. The Bell Jar was also the inspiration behind the store's name so I'd love to share that with her.

15.   Is there anything else you’d like our followers to know?

·        I think I've rambled on quite long enough so I'll just say thanks for taking the time to read this and thanks to everyone who's supported the Fig in these turbulent times!

Would you like to visit Golden Fig? They are located at 2706 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd Durham, NC 27707. On their website, you can view the books they are selling, so if you can't make it in person, you can buy from them online. 

April 19, 2021

“It Becomes Its Own Living Thing”: An Interview with North Carolina Poet Terry Kennedy

by Emma Bornstein (Social Media Intern) In celebration of National Poetry Month, I had the honor of meeting with North Carolina poet Terry Kennedy. He is the author of a poetry collection, New River Breakdown, which is hailed by poet Kelly Cherry as “an elusive and haunting narrative of loss, love, and recovery.” While Kennedy grew up moving around the country, he has called North Carolina “home” for the last 20 years. More precisely (with his flair for writerly homages): “As Fred Chappell says, I’ve ‘put my roots down in Greensboro.’” Kennedy is the Director of the MFA Writing Program at University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and editor of The Greensboro Review and storySouth. With its sprinklings of writer trivia, humor, and shape-shifting poems, I hope you enjoy this conversation with an enchanting local poet! --- (This interview is edited for length and clarity.)

Emma Bornstein: We like to ask all our author interviewees this question: Why do you think the North Carolina Literary Map is important for authors? 

Terry Kennedy: Outside of its natural archival and teaching purposes, I feel like the NC Literary Map is important as a record of North Carolina’s changing landscape and culture.  If you dig into the work of Doris Betts, Fred Chappell, Jacki Shelton Green, Randall Kenyan, Jill McCorkle, Reynolds Price . . . you’re not only reading great literature, you’re learning about the landscape, how places and things looked, what people ate, how they talked. These things get lost over time. But with the Map, they are, in many ways, still living. 

Bornstein: If you could pick any poet to eat dinner with, dead or alive, who would it be?

Kennedy: Since we’re talking about the Lit Map, I would say I’d love to have another dinner with Robert Watson. Bob was a great storyteller. And not just stories about the other interesting poets and writers he met and hung around with. He and his wife, the painter Betty Watson, traveled all over the world. His baby doctor was William Carlos Williams. One time, some of the kids from the Manson family brought him and Betty a plate of homemade cookies. Of course, they didn’t know who they were at the time. They thought they were just these nice hippie kids that lived on the farm down the road.

Bornstein: What does your writing process look like? How long does it take you to write a poem?

Kennedy: I’m a very slow writer. I might work on a poem for 5-10 years before I send it to a literary magazine for consideration. And even then, I would probably tell you that it’s not finished. There are poems in my first book, New River Breakdown, that I’m still editing. But back to the first part of the question: it’s important for me to move between mediums while I’m drafting a poem. I always start by writing longhand in some notebooks my wife makes for me. And then I move to my Uncle’s manual typewriter. It’s a 1950’s Royal Portable. I have several typewriters, but that one is my favorite. And then I’ll move back to longhand again. That switching around forces me to think about the poem in different ways. Interesting things happen subconsciously when you write by hand. And the typewriter forces you to really think about the terminal edge of the page and, by association, the length of the lines in your poems. 

Bornstein: What’s the biggest myth about writing or reading poetry?

Kennedy: For me, the biggest myth about poetry is that it’s hard to understand; that there’s some magic key to unlocking a poem's meaning. Poems are not mysteries to be unlocked. And outside of the completely artificial world of academia, they do not have any more inherent meaning than the redbud tree outside of my office window. An author might have a specific idea or intent when writing a poem, but once it leaves the author's desk and goes out into the world, it becomes its own living thing. And a thing that changes with each person it encounters. When I read a poem, that poem mixes with all of my expectations and experiences and becomes something new. The same thing happens when you read that same poem. Your expectations and experiences change that poem yet again. This is how poems travel through time; why something written by Shakespeare or Emily Dickinson can still be relevant in 2021.

Bornstein: Where do you get your inspiration or ideas for your poems?

Kennedy: The poems in my new manuscript use the natural world as a vehicle for describing the inner world of the speaker. Nothing new there, but, while working on the poems, I did spend a lot of time looking at the landscape. How the light changes as it sifts through the trees across the day. What the grass looks like after a quick summer rain. And also thinking about how the landscape has changed over time. How a hill that has been stripped bare because of construction, fills back in. And along those lines trying to remember what it looked like before. 

Bornstein: What advice do you often give to new writers?

Kennedy: The most important thing for new writers to do is read. Read everything. And read widely. Read The Norton Anthology, read collections of poems (from both the small and micro presses as well as the big houses), read literary journals. It’s important to understand the range of what is being written as well as what has been written. In the very big picture, poetry is a conversation. You can’t be a part of the conversation without knowing what’s being said.

Bornstein: What, in your opinion, makes a good poem?

Kennedy: That’s an easy one. If it physically moves you—you know, you feel something in your stomach—it’s a good poem.


Terry Kennedy’s book, New River Breakdown, is published and distributed by Unicorn Press. You can also find him on the Map.

March 4, 2021

Your Tour Guides to Fictional Places: Watch the Quarantine Tour's Launch Reading

Last month, in partnership with the NC Writers’ Network and North Carolina Literary Review, we launched the NC Quarantine Literary Tour—a virtual tour of fictional places created by nine North Carolina authors.

During the February 18th launch event, attendees were treated to a whirlwind reading by accomplished writers across the state, excerpting their or others' work in imaginary landscapes. From Leah Hampton's peaceful dip into Wilma Dykeman's Thicketty Creek; to Carole Boston Weatherford's disquieting look into Charles W. Chesnutt's insurrectionary Wellington; to Clyde Edgerton's hilarious portrait of Listre residents—it was a night to remember!

If you missed the live event, we have good news: a recording of the reading is now available! Now you can explore the Quarantine Tour with our brilliant tour guides anytime. Access the video of the launch reading here.

And don't forget: you can always take the Quarantine Tour solo on the Map!

February 16, 2021

Introducing the North Carolina Quarantine Literary Tour: An Interview with Ed Southern of NC Writers’ Network

by Emma Bornstein (Social Media Intern)

It’s almost a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and many of us are still stuck at home. So if we can’t tour North Carolina’s literary sites in person, why not visit the places that aren’t really there?

In partnership with the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame and North Carolina Literary Review, we’re thrilled to announce the new North Carolina Quarantine Literary Tour—a virtual tour of fictional places created by nine North Carolina authors. This unique experience will be available directly from our website, on our Literary Tours page.

On Thursday, February 18th at 7pm (ET), the North Carolina Writers’ Network is hosting a free online reading to launch the Quarantine Tour. According to NCWN: “During the February 18 event, the Quarantine Tour will ‘stop’ at each site through an excerpt by the place’s creator”—read by a “cross-section” of North Carolina writers—”describing their fictional setting.”

This week, I met with Ed Southern, author and Executive Director of NCWN, to discuss the Quarantine Tour and Thursday night’s reading.

(This interview is edited for length and clarity.)

Emma Bornstein: Tell me about your involvement in the North Carolina Quarantine Literary Tour.

Ed Southern: The way I got involved is that the North Carolina Writers Network oversees the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame [NCLHOF], and I serve on the advisory board for the North Carolina Literary Map. Representing the NCLHOF, I approached the Map about doing this [virtual tour]. And then we brought in Margaret Bauer, [Editor] from North Carolina Literary Review, as a resource for suggestions of places [to include], and also of information about some of these authors and the works in which these places are featured.

Bornstein: Could you tell me a little about the Tour? How did it get started?

Southern: Back in the spring [last year] when we first went into lockdown, we thought it would be fun to present a literary tour to places you can’t actually go, since you weren’t supposed to go anywhere anyway. Fictional locales that were created by authors who have been inducted into the NCLHOF. You can’t really visit Tims Creek, or Altamont, because it doesn’t really exist. So we thought it would be a fun [thing] since people were stuck online.

Honestly, we weren’t able to get it together quickly enough, and we thought: “Well okay, we won’t worry about it, because surely we’ll be out of quarantine in another month or two.” Ha. Then in the fall, when it became obvious that we’re not getting out of lockdown anytime soon, we decided to pick it back up again and put it together.

To reiterate, we hope it’s a fun way to visit the state when you can’t really visit the state.

Bornstein: You talked about the decision behind selecting fictional locations as opposed to real locations. What was the process for deciding which authors to include? Was there anything in particular that drew you to these nine authors?

Southern: The two criteria were that they had created a fictional North Carolina locale for use in their work, and they were inducted into the NCLHOF. But these were all folks [who] came quickly to mind. Most of these locales were fairly famous—even though they’re not real, they’re well-known from these authors’ works. All of Margaret Maron’s Deborah Knott mysteries are set in Colleton County. Several of Clyde Edgerton’s books are set in Listre. Thomas Wolfe is famous for creating Altamont, which is very obviously Asheville but not really. If you’re familiar with North Carolina literature, these were fairly easy to come up with.

Bornstein: You mentioned that one of the initial challenges was not knowing how long we were going to be in quarantine. Were there any other challenges that came up when the Tour was being developed, or when you were planning the launch event?

Southern: I think the biggest challenge was finding the time to do this. Everyone was so busy trying to adapt to the changed circumstances. But all of the authors who we contacted were very eager to contribute an excerpt or allow us to use an excerpt. I’m glad to have a couple of them actually reading with us at the Thursday event—Clyde Edgerton and Jill McCorkle will be reading. But then we have other Hall of Fame inductees like Bland Simpson and Carole Boston Weatherford, who will be reading excerpts by other authors as part of this Tour. 

Bornstein: What is something you personally find interesting about the Tour?

Southern: I had a lot of fun looking at the ways that these authors describe these places. Rarely do they stop the narrative to describe the physical setting. Obviously, they’re all in the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, they’re all accomplished authors, they’re all good at what they do. And it was sort of a master class in itself to watch how they work descriptions into the course of the action, and how oftentimes you’d then have descriptions that weren’t physical or geographic. Instead, they were describing people. Randall Kenan, in the excerpt we used from him, he’s describing the food that people cook and eat in Tims Creek—which in some ways is a much more visceral and evocative description than if he had laid out the map of the town.

Bornstein: So it’s very much speaking to the imagined culture, rather than focusing just on the geographical aspect.

Southern: Very much so. It’s wonderful to watch how each of the authors did that. How each of the authors—and this is kind of a cliché—made the reader see the place from their words on the page.

Bornstein: What do you hope people will walk away with from this Tour and Thursday night’s reading?

Southern: I hope they will feel like their imaginations, at least, have journeyed around the state, even if their bodies are stuck at home for a little while longer. I hope, beyond that, that people get a new or renewed interest and appreciation for the breadth and depth of North Carolina writing.


You can register to attend the North Carolina Quarantine Literary Tour launch via NCWN’s website. The deadline for registration is Thursday, February 18 at noon.

Can’t attend the reading? A recording of the event will be available at a later date, and you can take the Tour “solo” anytime on our website.

Sources: “See the State by Not Going to Places that Aren't Really There: Take the North Carolina Quarantine Literary Tour” (8 Feb. 2021). NC Writers’ Network. 

July 21, 2020

Between the Covers Bed & Breakfast Literary B&B

Today's bookstore highlight is Old Books in downtown Wilmington, NC.  Old Books is another personal favorite of mine! I lived in Wilmington, NC for 24 years and visited Old Books many times (including at their second location at 22 N. Front St.)! Old Books, while its seen a name change and a few locations over the years, has been a staple in Wilmington since 1982! They also have a wonderful Literary History Walking Tour (which I've also experienced first-hand). A Literary Loft above the bookstore available as a nightly rental, and Between the Covers Bed & Breakfast Literary B&B located in the owner's home. Old Books is currently located at 249 N. Front Street, across the street from its original location, in The Gaylord Building. 

Between the Covers Bed and Breakfast is located in the Rohler family home (the family that owns Old Books) in the Historic Carolina Heights neighborhood. The rooms are themed around Maya Angelou, Tom Robbins, Zelda Fitzgerald, Nicholas Sparks, and a North Carolina Poets Laureate Garden.  The Between The Covers a NC Literary Bed and Breakfast websites states that it is a full service Bed and Breakfast. Your stay includes a three-course breakfast in their lovely dining room, with all day coffee, beverages and snacks buffet located in their Butler's pantry. 

Diana and Lloyd Rohler who acquired Old Books in 1982 from original owner, Richard Daughtry, built one the largest private libraries not associated with a college in North Carolina! When their daughter, Gwenyfar Rohler, who is the current managing partner of Old Books, inherited her family home in 2014 and she began restoring the home to it's former glory and transforming it into the literary Bed and Breakfast it is today.  Between the Covers Bed & Breakfast celebrates the same things that the North Carolina Literary Map does: books, and the state's rich literary tradition.  I'm looking forward to staying in the Maya Angelou room one day!  Check out all the rooms offered on their website!
Two books I've purchased from Old Books (I was super into theatre at the time) and my Bibliophiles Rock! sticker