A Conversation with Author Cassandra King

By Leslie Moore

Down to earth and positively delightful, Cassandra King is not only a best-selling Southern writer, but a really fun person to talk to. She chatted with me from Highlands, North Carolina, where she travels to write and enjoy the cooler mountain weather.

“I’m an ant,” Cassandra told me as we began talking about our mutual love of thrift stores. In her highly anticipated memoir, Tell Me a Story: My Life with Pat Conroy, Cassandra shares stories of life with her famous husband. “When Pat and I were married, we realized we had married out of our species,” Cassandra began, laughing as she remembered. “Pat’s brother’s theory is that everyone is either an ant or a grasshopper, sort of like Aesop’s tale of the tortoise and the hare. You’re either thrifty and industrious like an ant, or rather extravagant, jumping around like a grasshopper.” She continued, saying, “One night Pat and I went to the beach, soon after we were married; we lived on Fripp Island at the time. After we left, I realized I had forgotten a beach towel and asked him to turn around. It was an expensive towel and belonged to Pat. He said, ‘I’m not turning around now, it’s dark. We’ll just get it tomorrow,’ and then went on to say he knew I was an ant when I bragged about getting my clothes from a thrift store.”

“It was a joke with us all through our marriage,” Cassandra continued. “After we bought our home in Beaufort, Pat asked me to please stop telling everyone that I got all of our furniture in a consignment store.” Cassandra laughed again and said she told him she did not get the furniture at a consignment store, it was a Habitat store. “You would not believe what those people in Hilton Head throw away!” Possessing a true artist’s soul, Pat had no concept of money. “Practical things didn’t matter to him. His brother tells the story that Pat would go to buy a car and ask how much it was. The salesperson would tell him $20,000, and Pat would offer him $25,000.”

“When Pat got sick, I was working on a book,” Cassandra told me when I asked her why she decided to write this memoir. “Right after he died I really needed to go back to writing, but I didn’t want to go back to the book I was working on.” At the same time, Cassandra had been working on a cookbook; one much like Pat’s Recipes of My Life, which includes a lot of personal stories, almost like a memoir cookbook. “But, in cookbooks you wouldn’t want to talk about him getting sick and the troubles we had, so my editor wanted me to make it a straight memoir.”

“I really want people to see Pat as the man I loved, not just as an icon of Southern literature. He wrote so many dark books, but he was a great guy – generous, sweet, kind, and complicated, of course,” Cassandra paused for a moment, remembering her beloved husband, and continued, telling me about the book she’s working on now. “I went back to the book I was writing when Pat died. He called it my ‘farm book.’ One of the subplots is the disappearance of the southern landscape.”

When I asked Cassandra if she ever thought of retiring, her infectious laughter was all the answer I needed. “I’ll never stop writing.”

Meet Cassandra at the Moveable Feast on October 28th, at Pine Lakes Country Club in Myrtle Beach. For tickets, visit www.classatpawleys.com. To learn more about the author, visit her website at www.cassandrakingconroy.com.

About this writer

  • Leslie Moore

    Leslie Moore

    Leslie Moore is the editor for Strand Media Group. A 25 year resident of Pawleys Island, she is blessed with a life filled with the love of family and friends and satisfying work to do every day.

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One Response to “A Conversation with Author Cassandra King”

  1. I think it was around 1974 or 1975, but Pat Conroy came to the class I taught at Southwest High School In Dekalb County, GA to tell us what it was like to be a published author. The way this happened was I offered extra credit to any kid who could bring in a guest speaker who had published something– even just something in the church bulletin. Well, I believe his name was Toby Williams, a little blonde boy, who said his uncle had written a book about teaching kids on some island, and Toby didn’t know the name of the book or anything really about it. I said, “Sure. Have your uncle come on in Friday.” And that is how Pat Conroy ended up teaching my class one afternoon in Georgia a few decades back.

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