Friday, November 19, 2010

Fannie Flagg on Her Southern Book Tour, Dangers of Eating Fried Green Tomatoes

By WSJ Staff If you talk to a veteran author about the publishing industry, sooner or later they’ll get around to their disdain for book tours. Paul Auster has vowed never to do another . Not Fannie Flagg. The author of “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe” and other novels set in her native South calls book tours a “highlight” of the writing process. “First of all, I sit in a room by myself for three or four years,” she said. “I am just so lonesome. It’s a joy to be out with people. I’m sad when it’s over.” Because Flagg dislikes flying, she usually rents a car and road trips through the South, appearing at a mix of chain booksellers and independents. We caught up with Flagg in Nashville. A Southern lady of the old school, despite now living part of the year in California, Flagg managed to call us “Honey” 431 times in a 15-minute phone conversation. Not that we minded. The Wall Street Journal: Tell me about your current book tour? I started last week in a little town where I have a house; it’s called Fairhope, Alabama. It’s right on the Mobile Bay. We had a fabulous evening. We had 800 people. Of course everybody brings food as a present. It was my first stop and I think I put on five pounds. Of course, you know, honey, no matter where I go in these towns, I get fried green tomatoes. I’ve had fried green tomatoes with spaghetti. I’m in Nashville now, and they brought me a fried green BLT. I swear to you it was divine. Do you remember your first book tour? My first book was called “Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man.” That was around ’78. It was fun then. I seem to do the same book tour. Basically the South. But I do go to New York and do television. My big long book tours, my big driving book tours that I love to do, are basically all over the South. One of our favorite books stores is Square Books in Oxford, Miss. Do you go there? Oh, sure. It’s a charming town. It’s a wonderful book store. As you know, the independent book sellers are in big trouble. I try to do as many as I can. My first book signing was at this little bookstore called Page and Pallet. It has been there for 50 to 60 years. I have known the lady that runs it since I was a child. I will go out of my way to do independent bookstores. We need in this economy to keep those small stores open. Are book tours simply fun or do you find them effective in selling books? Not only do I enjoy it but it’s extremely lucrative in terms of book sales. This morning I went on a show here in Nashville called Talk of the Town. It’s a local show. The viewers see you sitting with someone who’s a host or hostess of their local show, it makes them feel much closer to you and they will come out and buy a book, sometimes just because they saw you and they liked that you came to their town. Do you drive alone? I brought a friend with me to drive. I drove once. Trying to get into Atlants — not only could I not find it, I couldn’t get out. I was held hostage. It’s just like an adventure to me. The first thing we did when we got to Alabama is stop at Cracker Barrel and have fried chicken livers, fried okra, turnip greens and cornbread. I live in California most of the year, and you’re loathe to get anything that’s even cooked well there, much less fried. Do you have a favorite stop on the tour? I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was Page and Pallet. But I haven’t found anywhere that I haven’t enjoyed. I’m going to a Sam’s Club, which doesn’t bother me at all. The last Sam’s Club I went to, they put my table right in front of the frozen turkey section. But you know, honey, I sold a lot of books. This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read our FAQ page at Five Filters featured article: Beyond Hiroshima - The Non-Reporting of Falluja's Cancer Catastrophe .

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Fannie Flagg on Her Southern Book Tour, Dangers of Eating Fried Green Tomatoes


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