DSC00080_2Like some other readers and writers involved with Like the Dew, I knew Mary Kay Andrews before she was cool … or, at least, before she was Mary Kay Andrews.

She was a newspaper reporter back then but also was driven to write fiction, and, unlike many with those aspirations, she persevered until she was successful. Under her real name, Kathy Hogan Trocheck, she wrote 10 well-received mystery novels. Then she started the Mary Kay Andrews series, which has included the New York Times best-selling titles “Savannah Breeze” and “Blue Christmas,” as well as “Hissy Fit,” “Little Bitty Lies” and “Savannah Blues.”

Mary Kay deserves all the credit for her success. But she was fortunate enough to have a great mentor and an even better friend who encouraged her to be the writer she wanted to be — someone I also feel tremendous respect for —  the late Atlanta Constitution columnist Celestine Sibley.

A Florida native who has lived in Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia, Mary Kay is a founding contributor to Like the Dew who now divides her time between Avondale Estates, just outside the city of Atlanta, and Tybee Island on the Georgia coast. The fact that she recently bought and fixed up the Tybee place just might have something to do with the title of her latest novel, “The Fixer Upper.” It’s set in the fictional town of Guthrie, Ga., and, yes, involves fixing up an old house, in this case a fading Victorian mansion. As her readers might expect, the book also involves other things — stuff happens after all — including pesky FBI agents.

DSC00081_2Monday night, just before the official launch of “The Fixer Upper” on Tuesday, Mary Kay signed copies of the new book at Feast, a restaurant in Decatur.

I’m not sure if I heard her very well above all the din, but I feel pretty sure she said something like “Get me on the New York Times Bestseller list and I’ll buy you a pony.” So you read it here first (or second or third): Buy “The Fixer Upper,” and get a pony.

Ponies for everyone. Books, too.

Photos by Chrysis B. Graham

Top photo: Mary Kay Andrews signs her new novel.

Middle photo: Jennifer Hill congratulates Ms. Andrews on her new book.

Bottom photo: Martha W. Fagan and Carolyn Bregman enjoy the festivities at the Mary Kay Andrews book signing at Feast.

Mary Kay Andrews’ books:

DSC00083Mary Kay Andrews’ blog:

Peach Buzz on Mary Kay Andrews:

Keith Graham

Keith Graham

Keith Graham was among the recipients of the prestigious Stella Artois prize at the 2010 Edinburgh Festival. Named for a blind piano player, he is also well known for always giving money to street accordion players. A quotation that he considers meaningful comes from the Irish writer Roddy Doyle: "The family trees of the poor don't grow to any height." In addition to contributing to Like the Dew, Keith frequently posts quotations and links and occasionally longer articles at http://tartantambourine.com/