Tuscaloosa, AL -- August 15, 2007

At Books-A-Million I got my first interviewee hug of the trip, from a mother daughter duo on their way back home to small town Alabama after the mother's eye surgery in Birmingham.

The daughter was reading, or rather previewing, It's All About Him, by Denise Jackson, with Ellen Vaughn. She would be reading it to her mother in the evening--I can't think of a better post-eye surgery pass time. The book is about childhood sweethearts. A woman convinces her husband to go to Nashville, his dream, and about how they lost everything. In the end, love is what really matters. When you read, she said, you compare yourself to the characters and watching them lose all, to be in a position worse than yourself, and come back is very good to see. You need books to tell you it’s going to be okay. She heard about the book on the Today show.

What else does she read? Mary Higgins Clark. She reads so many of Mary Higgins Clark's books that they run together. When someone asks her what something was about, she’s not quite sure. Clark's daughter, Carol, is writing now and she’s sure that, when she gets to be seasoned, like her mother, her books are going to be good. Even so, now, they keep her entertained.

Her favorite book of all time—Shanna, by Kathleen Woodiwiss, who is the creator of the modern historical romance. It was published in 1977. It tells the story of a wealthy young woman who outwits her father's demands for marriage by wedding a man bound for the hangman's noose. He evades death, is sold into slavery where he proves to be a man of courage and skill ....his master ends up being his father-in-law. She’s read it five or six times. Each time she reads it she sees something different in it, understanding the depth of what’s happening, makes it more special because she knows the ending.

Her own novel? She’s never thought about that. Reading is a getaway. She prefers reading to movies—it’s quiet and you get more depth of character.

Her mother enjoys spiritual books—the Matthew Henry Concordance; author, Tommy Tenney; and Billy Graham. She’s a Sunday school teacher and reads her Bible. She told me the story of Abram being re-named Abraham, which means “father of many” and people would laugh because he had only one son. Recently she was studying Revelation, how heaven is, and, about the part with the precious stones. She did her research and checked with her jeweler about what they were.

Demopolis, where they live, is a beautiful small town between two rivers. With a small town, the daughter said, everyone knows your business before even you know it, but it’s better than in a big city, like where she lived in Fort Worth before returning back to her roots, where no one even cares what your business is!

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