With seven unpublished novels wasting away on his hard drive, Tony Vanderwarker was astonished when world-renowned author John Grisham offered to take him under his wing and mentor Tony on the art of thriller writing. Plus: Novelist Carrie Brown (Hollins University) draws inspiration from her years as a small-town America journalist, and from the mysteries of the cosmos. Her new book The Stargazer’s Sister tells the story of two remarkable sibling astronomers whose work led to the discovery of the planet Uranus.

Later in the show: When Jack Beck and Wendy Welch (University of Virginia at Wise) decided to move to the small mountain town of Big Stone Gap, they hadn’t planned on opening a used bookstore. But a big Victorian house captured their imaginations and before they knew it they were setting up shop. Despite the growing popularity of e-readers and a downturn in the national economy, Jack and Wendy’s small-town bookstore is thriving—and fostering community. Wendy’s book about their experience is called The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: a memoir of friendship, community, and the uncommon pleasure of a good book.

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