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Online Exclusive: Stock Your Bookshelves the Pat Conroy Way

In this bonus online exclusive, Pat Conroy (The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini and other contemporary Southern classics) shares recollections and recommendations of some of his favorite bookstores, past and present, across his native South. by Lynn Seldon

In an exclusive dual WD Interview in the May/June 2011 issue of Writer’s Digest, married novelists Pat Conroy (The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini and other contemporary Southern classics) and Cassandra King (best known for The Sunday Wife) discuss the writing life, the married life and everything in between.

In this bonus online exclusive, Conroy shares recollections and recommendations of some of his favorite bookstores, past and present, across his native South.

What are some of your favorite bookstores?
PC: Bay Street Trading Co. [once in Beaufort, South Carolina]. It’s an empty shell now. I’ve signed every book [there] since [my self-published debut] The Boo—except [my newest book] My Reading Life, because it’s closed. It’s closed. It’s shuttered. Breaks my heart.

So you signed The Boo there when it first came out?
PC: I signed for four hours—and not one person came to the signing. Including my mother. It was supposed to be a signing, but I really sat for four hours—it was great training. OK, my hometown. Somebody from my high school class will feel guilty enough to wander down. Oh, no. It was humiliating beyond belief.

What about other bookstores?
PC [looking to Cassandra for confirmation]: Here are the bookstores that are important. Great booksellers! [Mitchell] Kaplan, in Miami[’s] Books & Books. Mary Gay Shipley in [That Bookstore in Blytheville], Arkansas—

It’s interesting that you’re answering the question with bookstore owners.
PC: That is what is important in a bookstore. Wilson McIntosh runs the Beaufort bookstores now [McIntosh Book Shoppe and The Beaufort Bookstore]—he has been extraordinarily helpful. In Atlantic Beach, [at The Bookmark, near Jacksonville, Florida], Rona [Brinlee] is great. Fabulous. Rona is one of the great booksellers I know in the country. Jake Reiss in Birmingham [at Alabama Booksmith], where Cassandra had her first book signing. Britton Trice in [Garden District Book Shop] in New Orleans. … And Richard [Howorth] at Square Books in Oxford, [Mississippi]. The classic list. [At] Blue Bicycle Books in Charleston, [South Carolina], Jonathan Sanchez. Chan Gordon at The Captain’s Bookshelf in Asheville, [North Carolina]. Nancy [Olson] at Quail Ridge [Books and Music] in Raleigh, [North Carolina]. Sally Brewster [Park Road Books] in Charlotte, [North Carolina]. Litchfield Books in Pawleys [Island, South Carolina] … I will leave somebody out, but these are the ones I try to get [to] whenever a book comes out.

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To read the WD’s interview with Pat Conroy and Cassandra King, check out the May/June 2011 issue of Writer’s Digest, available on newsstands, through The Writer’s Digest Shop or for digital download here.

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