Union Avenue Books, Knoxville . . .

Flossie McNab* and her partner Sheila run Union Avenue Books in newly revived downtown Knoxville, Tennessee. The store is filled with couches and chairs, inviting the book lover to sit down and read for a while.

*Flossie McNab is the plucky female character in a book someone needs to write.

My daughter Linden teaches Veterinary Pathology at the University of Tennessee, which is why I made Knoxville part of my “go where you have kin or a friend” book tour.

Daughter Linden introduces me

I talked, as I did in Highlands, about how hard it is for the children when a parent writes memoir, how it makes them want to retreat into a corner, put their hands over their ears and go la-la-la-la-la until she shuts up.

I was talking about the way the memoir began as a novel when Linden spoke up: “Ask her how many children she had in that novel.” She held up three fingers. “And ask her which child got let out.” She pointed to herself.

I had forgotten that, and tried to defend myself over the laughter: “Three children is as many as a normal person ought to have in a piece of fiction.”

Linden and I made cheese wafers (pepper hot) and sausage balls (pepper hot) for southern bites. I told everyone I wore long sleeves to hide my California tattoo and forgot to say it was a joke. The next day people at work kept telling Linden: I can’t believe your mother’s tattoo—the colors are so bright.

The bookstore sold out of my book. Flossie even sold the copy she was reading. What more could an author desire?

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