One Memorable Date Inspires Book

May 3, 2005 – Posted at 3:19 p.m. CDT
BLYTHEVILLE, AR -- A Georgia author kicked off her nationwide book tour in Region 8 Tuesday and she had a special reason for starting in Blytheville.
Ronda Rich is the author of The Town That Came A Courtin' and she says it was a previous trip to Blytheville that inspired the new book.
“The book is about a little southern town who plays matchmaker for their town mayor. They want to find him a wife and all that ensures from that,” said Rich, “It's a story of good hearted people and good will.”
Rich’s new book hits pretty close to home.
“It's dedicated to Mary Gay Shipley and the fine people of Blytheville, Arkansas, which is just thrilling to me,” laughed Mary Gay Shipley, owner of That Book Store in Blytheville.
Rich came up with the idea after she held a book signing in 2002 for her nonfiction work My Life in the Pits and fell in love with the town.
“People lined up for 20 minutes before the book signing and came through the line and would say 'You're not married, right?' and then they would say 'You have you met our mayor?' So, I thought I don't know if I want to meet a man an entire town has to find a date for,” laughed Rich.
And so a single date became the premise for this new book.
“I appreciate her asking me what I thought. You know she didn't have to do that,” said Mayor Barrett Harrison.
Mayor Harrison is a little bashful about all the attention he's received from the book. But he says a little embarrassment on his part goes a long way for the town of Blytheville.
“The most important thing about all of this is the positive attention it's giving the community,” said Harrison.
And the one question everyone's asking...Is the mayor still single?
“Well, just barely,” said Harrison shyly.
Plans are even in the works for the book to become a movie, and Rich says she would like for Dennis Quaid to play the role of the fictional mayor.