The USA Today bestselling author Susan M. Boyer paid a visit to the Mount Airy Public Library on Thursday afternoon and divulged an interesting fact about her Lowcountry book series and its surprising connection to Mount Airy.
Boyer admitted that when she was formulating the fictional island of Stella Maris, which sits off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina in her series, was inspired by “Mayberry,” having wanted a “Mayberry set on an island” type of allure.
She describes Stella Maris as a modern day “Mayberry” and a “quintessential small town on an island.”
Boyer resides in Greenville, South Carolina, but was born and raised in Faith, North Carolina.
To date Boyer has written five books about Liz Talbot, the character she describes as her younger, thinner, and more clever avatar. In addition to the books that have already been published, Boyer said that she’s under contract for at least five more books in the series and imagines there will be many more.
The character of Liz Talbot received her name from Boyer’s favorite store, Talbots, a store in which almost her entire wardrobe is from.
In following with Boyer’s obsession with the store, she will be walking in Talbots fall fashion show in Greenville on Sept. 29.
As part of her talk Thursday, Boyer explained to the audience that her road to becoming a bestselling author wasn’t either an easy or immediate road.
“My mother says that I started writing at the age of 5, but I don’t remember it, however she’s a very reliable source,” Boyer said of her literary beginnings.
Boyer said that her writing habits have always been present in her life, but when it was time for her to go to college, she realized that there wasn’t a specific major that allows someone to major in novel writing and then go out and get a job at writing novels after graduation.
After toying with the idea of an English major, Boyer decided to pursue a career in computer programming and analysis after taking a computer course.
Boyer worked in the computer industry until 2004 when the company where she was working went bankrupt, which prompted her husband to encourage her to pursue writing full-time.
After eight long and drawn out years and 49 rejection letters from agents, Boyer finally struck gold when she received an offer from Henry Press to publish “Lowcountry Boil,” the first book in her series.
With her first novel on the mystery novel scene, Boyer received the coveted Agatha Award for Best First Novel in 2013.
The Thursday night event was open and informal, with Boyer stating at the beginning of the event that she was simply there to do whatever the audience desired, adding that she once tap danced at a book signing in Knoxville, Tennessee upon the request of a little girl.
“I just say whatever comes to my mind,” Boyer said of her speaking style. “It scares my publisher to death.”
The name of Boyle’s first book, “Lowcountry Boil” comes from the fact that a wide assortment of elements are all thrown together and eventually come to a boil at the end of the book.
As for her writing motivations, Boyer said that her first career goal was to become Nancy Drew when she grew up and now the character of Liz fulfills that desire.
“As you can imagine, there weren’t any mysteries in the town,” Boyer said of the fact that she used to go around the town of Faith in search of mysteries to solve as a child.
Boyer’s fifth book in the series was released in July and is titled “Lowcountry Book Club,” having received the idea for the name from an eccentric book club that she attended as part of her publicity tour.
Aila Boyd may be reached at 336-415-2210.