I’ve just returned from a whirlwind tour of some of Mississippi’s independent bookstores. It was great fun to meet the owners and managers of these wonderful stores and bring them a galley copy of Catfish Alley. These are the kind of bookstores where the owners know their customers, and where that comfortable sense of place makes you want to while away an afternoon browsing, having a cup of coffee, and leaving with a big stack of books to read and discuss with your friends.
Our first stop was Square Books in downtown Oxford, Mississippi. I was welcomed by Richard Howorth, the owner, and Lyn Roberts, the store manager.
We stopped for lunch in Clarksdale, at Morgan Freeman’s Ground Zero Blues Club. Clarksdale is on the Blues Highway, Highway 61 in the Mississippi Delta.
Our next stop was the McCormick Book Inn in Greenville. Here I met Hugh McCormick III, and Mary Dayle, who showed me through the back room of the store where the McCormicks keep a wealth of Greenville history in documents and photographs.
We stayed overnight at the beautiful Corners Mansion Bed and Breakfast in Vicksburg, where we were welcomed by owners Macy and Joe Whitney. Across the street at the Cedar Grove Inn, we had a delicious dinner. I highly recommend the bread pudding!
Saturday morning found us at Lorelei Books, owned by Laura Weeks, who moved to Vicksburg, renovated a wonderful old building, and lives upstairs over the bookstore. At Lorelei, I had a wonderful discussion about Catfish Alley with local readers Karen and Ernestine.
We drove on the Natchez, to Turning Pages Books and More, where Mary Emrick was hosting a book signing with Robert Dalby.
Robert just published the fourth book in his Piggly Wiggly series—A Piggly Wiggly Christmas.
On to Hattiesburg, where my sister and brother-in-law took us to Main Street Books, which was bustling with activity during the downtown Victorian Candlelit Christmas. I was greeted warmly by owner, Diane Shepherd.
The last stop before returning to my hometown was Lemuria Bookstore in Jackson, a beautiful bookstore that sits atop the Broad Street Bakery. I met store manager, Joe Hickman.
Back to my hometown of Columbus, I visited the newly renovated Tennessee Williams Welcome Center.
It was such a grand experience to see all of these stores and meet the owners and managers! I’m looking forward to returning in the spring, when Catfish Alley is released. My publisher, Penguin/NAL, has set April 5, 2011 as the publication date.