Popular author returns for ‘Tale’ celebration

By Ben Beagle
Daily News Lifestyles Editor
Oct. 7, 2006

BATAVIA , One of the past authors featured in the ‘A Tale for Three Counties’ community reading project is returning for a visit.
Julia Spencer-Fleming, whose debut novel In the Bleak Midwinter was the 2005 Tale selection will present a talk and book signing for her new book, All Mortal Flesh, at 10 a.m. Oct. 16 at Richmond Memorial Library, 19 Ross St., as the three-county program begins its fifth year.
All Mortal Flesh, the fifth book in a series featuring the Rev. Clare Fergusson as an amateur sleuth, was released this week.
The upcoming event started as the Tale for Three Counties Council’s first annual meeting and an opportunity for project organizers to thank sponsors of the program organized by libraries in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties.
It then expanded to a public event with a talk and book signing featuring one of the program’s more popular authors when Spencer-Fleming’s schedule put her near the area. She will be delivering a keynote address Oct. 17 at the Southern Tier Library Council’s annual meeting.
The talk and book signing are open to the public. Copies of All Mortal Flesh will be available for purchase.
Spencer-Fleming, who said she was treated like a rock star during her 2005 visit, said she wanted to get back to the area.
“I was running low on Jell-O,” she quipped.
“Actually, I had a lot of fun the last time. I was really happy with how it went and was looking for something to bring me back to Western New York,” Spencer-Fleming said.
The author said she expects to talk a little about the new book , the numerous twists and turns in All Mortal Flesh require careful discussion so as not to be too revealing. She may talk about future books in the series, which is likely to stretch to seven books. She also anticipates questions from the audience.
All Mortal Flesh, which has received three starred reviews from professional library journals, continues to explore the relationship between Fergusson, an Episcopal priest with a penchant for getting into trouble, and Russ Van Alystne, the police chief of tiny Millers Kill.
The novel sees the relationship between Clare and Russ at a turning point. It also finds the chief of police being investigated in a murder case. Naturally, Clare wants to help, but her own life has been upended as she struggles with the authority of her church, the law, and her own heart.
Tale organizers are still considering books for the program’s 2007 selection, which will mark the fifth year of the program.
“I had no idea it would get as big as it has,” said Leslie DeLooze, the reference librarian at Richmond Library who has spearheaded the program since its inception.
The popularity of the reading program is also making organizers feel pressure , both real and imagined , to select a book for next March that will also be well received among readers.
“I think we have a really loyal following of readers who look forward to the project, trust our judgment, and who not only enjoy reading the book and discussing it, but also meeting the author,” DeLooze said.
“And those authors continue to have a following,” DeLooze said. “I’ve heard people tell me they’ve read everything else, or many other books by past Tale authors.”
The Tale program began in 2003 with author Leif Enger and his debut novel, Peace Like a River. He was followed by Howard Frank Mosher and his book Northern Borders, Spencer-Fleming, and Jennifer Donnelly with A Northern Light, a novel inspired by the real-life murder of Grace Brown in an Adirondack lake 100 years ago.
Each year, the program features book discussions leading up to the author’s visits to libraries in each of the three counties.

Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation

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