After a brief rest in Durham following our return from Alabama, I headed west to North Carolina to promote my latest book, Drifting Into Darkness, as well as the updated, paperback edition of Met Her on the Mountain.
My First Stop: Greensboro
The first stop was Greensboro, North Carolina, where I gave a talk at Scuppernong Books, a beautiful space downtown with high, exposed brick walls, just a few blocks from the historic Woolworth’s, where the lunch counter civil rights sit-ins took place.
After my talk, one of the owners, Brian Lampkin, handed me a slender book he had written called The Tarboro Three: Rape, Race, and Secrecy, while a columnist for the Daily Southerner, in that small eastern North Carolina town. In 1973, a trio of young African American men faced the death penalty after being accused of raping a white woman but were later exonerated, in part through the efforts of the Southern Poverty Law Center (which I visited during my trip to Montgomery, Alabama).
What Brian knew, to my shock, was that I had written one of the first national stories about the case as a young, freelance stringer for the New York Times, with no byline, and more for a leftist magazine. In that brief instant, I was transported back to the beginning of my career writing about racial injustice in North Carolina and the Southeast. Ultimately, that road led me to a 50-year career writing about crime and criminal justice.
Promoting Drifting into Darkness in North Carolina
My next stop was Asheville, North Carolina, where an interview about Drifting into Darkness, conducted by Patricia Furnish, aired on a local FM station. The following day, I was back in Marshall for a book signing at a familiar venue, Penland & Sons general store. We had a nice stream of visitors, including a number of locals who have become my friends. My gracious host, as on previous visits, was co-owner Georgette Penland, whose parents were of great help to me while I was researching Met Her on the Mountain and who appear in the story.
While in Marshall, I had a lengthy interview with Johnny Casey, community reporter for the Madison County News-Record & Sentinel. I’m hoping the article, which focuses on Met Her on the Mountain, will soon appear.
My old Duke roommate and dear friend, Alan Ray, flew in from Albany, New York, to provide moral support. We stayed with another old Duke friend, Elmer Hall, proprietor of Sunnybank Inn in Hot Springs, North Carolina, where I stayed innumerable times while researching Met Her on the Mountain. Elmer also appears in the book. He suggested that we hike the popular “bald” mountain top called Max Patch, near the Appalachian Trail. The weather was beautiful, and the 360-degree view from the top was incredible.
A Final Stop in North Carolina
On the way back from Asheville, I stopped in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for lunch with another old friend, Paula Duggan, widow of the fabled New York Times national correspondent Wayne King, who was my mentor and “rabbi” as a neophyte journalist. Just before lunch, I walked a few doors up the street to stick my head in the door of another independent bookstore, Bookmarks, where I am scheduled to appear on October 19th, to introduce myself and say hello.
In the meantime, I’ll continue interviewing with hosts of numerous true crime broadcasts, all of which will be posted on the Media page of this site.
To keep up with my upcoming events and appearances, click here.