Charles Frazier is loved by America's independent booksellers. Published by a then relatively small press, Cold Mountain was an instant word-of-mouth bestseller in stores like the Regulator. We kept stacks of the book on hand, right near the front counter.
Before the book came out, his publisher hosted a dinner at Durham's Parizade for local independent booksellers and reviewers. As the book was climbing The New York Times list, Charles would drop in to sign stock. We were selling twenty or thirty copies a day back then.
Once he brought by Newsweek reporter Jeff Giles who was doing a big piece. As usual, Charles was low key about the hoopla.
Charles told a story then about how People magazine wanted to do a long article, too, but only if they could get a photo of the author reading the book to his daughter at his house. He refused citing privacy issues. People persisted, no photo op, no article. Frazier said, "Fine." By that time there were stories of strangers showing up in his rural driveway. Two months later when the book was huge, People ran a big story... without the family photo.
His daughter was a student at a local middle school. One thing people respect about Charles Frazier is how he supports others, sometimes quietly, sometimes with a bang. He's rather quiet and private, a self-described "library rat" when he wrote Cold Mountain, but he's done benefits of old time musicians, ALS, and efforts to save the Cherokee language.
He asked us to do a book fair at his daughter's school. We said "Sure!" That would be a no-brainer. Everybody in town would want to come. Who wouldn't want to be there? We would sell thousands of books!
But then he and his wife asked another favor. "Would you do it with no publicity?"
Of course we would do anything he wished. But it was hard not dropping hints about this incredible local school book fair reading that was about to happen.
And the reading was incredible. The school set up two comfortable armchairs with a nice reading lamp on a stage in the gym. His daughter introduced him and he read to us, and to her, just as he had done writing the book, chapter for chapter.