Southern-Style Writer: Cathy Holton Comes to The Country Bookshop
Before beginning her book tour for her new novel, "Beach Trip," 40-something Cathy Holton was feeling the pressure for a makeover.
"I'm thinking 50 pounds, a jowl lift, and a professional teeth-bleaching at the very least," she says.
Instead, she tried to convince her 21-year-old daughter, who "looks exactly like I did 20 (okay, 30) years ago," to be her "media doppelganger."
"I told her with my talent and her looks we'd hit the bestseller lists in no time, we'd be a shoe-in for 'Oprah' and 'Good Morning America.'"
Fortunately for Holton's fans, her daughter refused.
So on Friday, June 12, at 3 p.m., the real, albeit "fabulous-challenged," Cathy Holton, author of "Revenge of the Kudzu Debutantes" and "The Secret Lives of the Kudzu Debutantes," will appear at The Country Bookshop in downtown Southern Pines.
"I wouldn't have missed the chance to have Cathy here," says Beth Carpenter, book club coordinator for the store. "Her new book is the perfect summer beach read."
Holton got the idea for the novel when she was having dinner with some of her girlfriends.
"We were all sitting there and one of the 'girls' mentioned that she was getting ready to go on her annual beach trip with her college friends," Holton says. "After a week of drinking and sunning and being together, the long simmering feud two of the women had over an event that had occurred in college would surface. 'You know,' I said, 'that would make a good novel.' I couldn't get all the details; they swore some kind of ridiculous secrecy oath. So I had to make most of it up."
After finishing her two "Kudzu Debutantes" novels, Holton decided she wanted to go in a different direction.
"I wanted to write a novel about four women whose lives intersect at two very important times in their lives," she says. "The first, when they're young and idealistic and have their whole lives in front of them, and the second, when they're older, standing on the cusp of middle age, and have been whittled down some by fate and circumstance."
Mel, Sara, Annie and Lola had been roommates at a prestigious liberal arts college in the mountains of North Carolina in the 1980s. Twenty-three years later, Mel, a mystery writer living in New York, is grappling with the aftermath of two failed marriages and a stalled writing career. Sara, an Atlanta attorney, struggles with guilt over her son's illness and her own slowly unraveling marriage. Annie, a successful Nashville businesswoman married to her childhood sweetheart, can't seem to leave the regrets of her youth behind her. And Lola, sweet-tempered and absent-minded, whiles away her hours and her husband's money, on pills that keep her happy.
Holton, who was born in Lakeland, Fla., grew up in college towns in the South, including several years in Raleigh in the 1960s, before settling in Oklahoma.
"Somewhere around third grade I began to understand that there were people called writers who got paid for truth-stretching," she says. "Not long after that, I began my career as a writer. My first stories were mostly morality tales used to intimidate the neighborhood kids."
After her sophomore year of college at Oklahoma State, she met her future husband at a dude ranch in Colorado. After marrying, they went back to school at Michigan State, and eventually moved to Chattanooga, Tenn., where they now live.
For information call The Country Bookshop at (910) 692-3211.
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