So, there we were on stage at the Hub Center in Hudson, North Carolina. It was a full house; the band was in tune and the cameras were rolling. New York Times bestselling author Jan Karon was in her element as we talked about all things Mitford.
It was Sunday and the continuation of Jan Karon Days. Saturday morning had featured the Jan Karon parade with local citizens as well as Mitford personalities. The remainder of Saturday included, among other things, a luncheon like what you might read about in one of Jan’s Mitford novels. It even had an orange marmalade cake adventure in which I participated.
I was so moved by the cake experience; I included the story in my monologue during Sunday’s show.
From the moment Jan walked on the stage and we took our seats, she was gracious and engaging.
Jan was born in Lenoir at the Dula Hospital and raised for much of her childhood by her grandparents in Hudson. She attended the Hudson School which is now the Hub Station. It serves the community with a variety of business, educational and entertainment options and this weekend, it served as the perfect setting for our broadcast production.
As we were talking about Jan’s early memories of growing up in Hudson, one of her stories was about her first book, written at the age of 10 and inspired by “Gone with the Wind.”
The story goes like this: Jan’s curious sister discovers Jan’s book, reads all 14 pages and runs to their grandmother exclaiming, “Jan has written a book and it’s got damn in it!”
Well, sure enough, it did. Jan felt that using that word from “Gone with the Wind” would in some way elevate her writing.
The problem was that her grandmother did not allow the use of such words. The worst part of this story was that Jan had to participate in her own punishment by fetching the switch.
To this day, Jan’s books have for the most part remained curse-word free. I say “for the most part” because there was one other time ... but the publisher fixed it with black magic markers and yes there was a T-shirt made.
We went on to talk about all sorts of things and with the help of talented actors, a few of Mitford’s personalities came to life. The audience was thrilled and so was Jan.
Down the Hall was our house band and the music chosen was to celebrates our Scots-Irish heritage. The music provided a perfect segue to talk about Jan’s research trip to Ireland. With hundreds of personalities to create, research is important.
At the end of the show, we had a good amount of questions from the audience. A common question was about when another Mitford book might hit the shelves. As of now, that is not expected, Jan is considering other projects; however, now she is simply enjoying her own personal Mitford experience.
After the show, Jan visited with fans down the hall in the classroom she attended many years ago as a child.
It was a fine day with a lot of memories and literary celebration.
Whether you live in Mitford or a town not so far away, may we all have the comfort of friendships and someone who cares.