CANTON — Award winning author Cassandra King Conroy takes readers inside her 20 years spent with one of Southern literature’s most popular writers in her new memoir “Tell Me A Story: My Life With Pat Conroy.”
The author is coming to Woodstock for an event in December.
Growing up on a farm in lower Alabama, Cassandra King did not have any neighbors and no siblings until she was 7. She would help with chores after school, but with no siblings or neighbors, she needed something to do to keep herself entertained. So, she started reading more and more. The more she read, the more she fell in love with it, she said.
She then started writing her own stories. She went on to teach composition 101 and 102, American literature and creative writing at various colleges. She enjoyed her job, but found herself at a crossroads when she began work on her first book.
“It was around the time that I met Pat that my youngest son was heading off to college in a couple of years and I had also written my first book,” she said. “It was a small press, but it sold well. I went around speaking to writers groups and at festivals, so I decided to become an author full-time, rather than a professor.”
She traveled to a literary conference reception in Birmingham, Alabama in 1995, which is where she met Pat Conroy, author of bestsellers like “The Prince of Tides,” “The Great Santini,” and “The Water is Wide.” This is where the memoir begins. This same conference is where she would present her debut novel the following year. She was a huge fan of Conroy and she wanted to meet him, however, there was an issue.
“I arrived late to the conference, so I was not expecting to meet him,” she said. “My friend knew I wanted to meet Pat, so when she was going around introducing herself to everyone she ended up finding Pat. She brought him over so I could meet him and I ended up blurting out ‘Oh God all mighty.’ Pat responded by saying ‘Well not quite, but close enough.’”
They shared their love for food with one another, among other topics. It wasn’t until a former writing teacher of Cassandra mentioned to Pat that Cassandra had recently completed her first novel, that the two began talking about literature, Cassandra said.
“Why didn’t you tell me you were a writer, I thought you were the caterer?” the great author said to Cassandra. She said she was afraid to mention her new novel, given his status in literature, she said.
From then on, the two became close friends, ultimately leading to an 18-year marriage.
The memoir goes into much greater detail about the many years spent with the man she loved, leading up to his death from pancreatic cancer on March 4, 2016.
Cassandra Conroy said she did not plan on writing the memoir, but she ultimately decided to because she wanted readers to what Pat Conroy was like as a person.
“I wrote this memoir so people could get to know Pat as I had,” she said. “He was a larger than life character with a warm, loving and kind heart, but had self-destructive tendencies and I wanted his readers to know about him as a person.”
Cassandra Conroy will be at the FoxTale Book Shoppe 105 E. Main St., Woodstock at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6 to discuss the memoir and answer questions.
The event will be free and open to the public.
“Tell Me A Story: My Life With Pat Conroy” is out now.