North Carolina’s Literary Capital

It seems that Hillsborough, NC is where the writers want to be:

At Christmastime each year, Michael Malone, a longtime TV writer, and Allan Gurganus, a bestselling novelist, put on a production of “A Christmas Carol” at an Episcopal church in Hillsborough, N.C. Mr. Gurganus plays Scrooge, and Mr. Malone plays nearly all the other characters. Jill McCorkle, another bestselling novelist, holds the record for perfect attendance.

In fact, more than two dozen of their fellow writers live in Hillsborough, population 6,087, where government meetings are held in the “town barn,” and the Wooden Nickel serves up fried green tomatoes. “Under the Tuscan Sun” author Frances Mayes lives in a 4,500-square-foot Federalist farm house here, and David Payne, author of the Southern saga “Back to Wando Passo,” lives in a renovated former clubhouse for local businessmen in the town’s historic district…

So what is it that draws writers to this small Southern town? Mr. Malone says it speaks to the nature of a writer’s work. Hillsborough allows writers to be at once isolated and close to friends and peers; while intensely focused on their next book or script, they still belong to a community that hosts barbecue festivals and a cemetery walking tour.

“Writers can get very isolated,” said Mr. Malone. “This is a real community. This is a real town, and it’s been a real town since the mid-18th century. That is the stuff of fiction.”

This tight-knit feel is attracting others to Hillsborough, said local Coldwell Banker real-estate agent Tom Sievert, driving up home prices. The median sales price in Hillsborough was $238,000 in July, up 25% from five years earlier, according to Triangle Multiple Listing Services.

“While we have this mecca for the authors, you’ll see them in front of Cup A Joe just having a cup of coffee. They’re just members of the community,” said Mr. Sievert. “I think that’s what drives people here. It’s a real friendly town.”

By the way, I highly recommend you read any of Malone’s books. They are great, entertaining reads and I particularly enjoyed Handling Sin, Time’s Witness and Uncivil Seasons.

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