One on One: Can Bookwatch survive the virus?

Published 10:27 am Monday, June 15, 2020

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By D.G. Martin

Can North Carolina’s television program about books escape the shutdown brought to us by the coronavirus?

UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch has had a rough time in recent months. With production studios closed, Bookwatch’s new season had to be delayed. But with the help of Isothermal Community College, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill and Zoom, six new programs are ready to launch a new season on Sundays at 3:30 p.m. beginning June 21.

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The season opens with one of the world’s favorite authors, John Grisham, who spends a lot of time in a house in Chapel Hill to be near his daughter and grandchildren.

A Grisham thriller is almost always at or near the top of the bestseller lists. This week it is “Camino Winds.” Earlier this year, it was “The Guardians,” whose main character is Cullen Post, a lawyer and Episcopal priest who spends full time trying to gain the release of inmates convicted, but innocent, of murderer.

In his Bookwatch interview, Grisham explains how he built a gripping mystery around the situations Post and his clients encounter. (June 21)

Salisbury native and Beaufort resident Kristy Woodson Harvey has been called “the next major voice in Southern fiction.” The latest of her six popular novels, “Feels Like Falling,” follows a young, high achieving businesswoman through the breakup of her marriage and the challenges that follow. On Bookwatch, Harvey explains her secrets for writing success. (June 28)

One of the most talked about recent books in our state is “Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy” by Durham’s David Zucchino, a Pulitzer Prize winner currently covering Afghanistan for The New York Times.

His book is about the only coup d’état of an elected government in the U.S. and is mandatory reading for those who seek to understand the background of racial injustice in North Carolina. Zucchino talks about the events of 1898 and today’s challenges on Bookwatch. (July 5)

South Carolina author Mary Alice Monroe talks about “The Summer Guests,” which is set in the horse country surrounding Tryon in Polk County, just west of Rutherfordton. When a hurricane threatens to overrun their coastal homes, diverse groups of people and horses make their ways to safety at a friend’s horse farm in Tryon and the nearby International Equestrian Center. Inspired by her real evacuation experience, the book is a tribute to the Tryon community. (July12)

Fans of Pat Conroy, who died in 2016, are still grieving. Conroy was the bestselling author of “The Great Santini,” “The Lords of Discipline,” “The Prince of Tides” and “Beach Music” and spent some of his growing up years in Belmont and Camp LeJeune. He loved time in our state’s mountains with his wife, now widow, Cassandra King, who tells about their marriage in “Tell Me a Story: My Life with Pat Conroy.” (July19)

Although Martin Clark was born in Winston Salem and graduated from Davidson College, he calls Stuart, Virginia home. His debut novel, “The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living,” established his place in the pantheon of legal thriller writers. His latest, “The Substitution Order,” features Kevin Moore, once a highly respected lawyer, but now disbarred. Moore laments, “Despite my mistakes, which – I concede – were hella­cious, I deserve better than this misery.”

Moore’s misery is the backbone on which Clark builds his story, one that has earned praise from The New York Times. Its reviewer, Alafair Burke, wrote, “In a good legal thriller, the law itself propels the narrative as intensely as any single character. By that definition, Martin Clark’s ‘The Substitution Order’ is not merely a good legal thriller; it’s a great one.” (July 26)

Off to such a great start, there is every reason to hope Bookwatch can survive the virus and thrive. If you have a suggestion or word of encouragement send a note to

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” Sundays at 3:30 p.m. and Tuesdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. The program also airs on the North Carolina Channel Tuesdays at 8 p.m. and other times.