After almost a decade, Beaufort novelist Lynn Seldon publishes part II of his Ring Trilogy.
It’s been almost ten years since local travel journalist and food columnist Lynn Seldon donned his novelist’s hat. This month, he’ll do just that with the publication of Carolina’s Ring, the long-awaited sequel to Virginia’s Ring, published in 2014.
That first novel, set in the early 1980s, focused on cadets at Seldon’s alma
mater, Virginia Military Institute, in Lexington, Virginia. Some of its characters and locales make return appearances in Carolina’s Ring, which is set in the early 2000s and split between VMI and The Citadel in Charleston.
A modern coming-of-age story, the novel traces the lives of Carolina Stone and her childhood friends, twin brothers Ben and Alf Marshall, following them from the foothills of South Carolina to Lexington and Charleston, and ultimately, to the Global War on Terror in Iraq and beyond. A protégé of the late Pat Conroy, Seldon does his mentor proud with this lyrical novel of love, loss, and loyalty.
I recently spoke with Lynn Seldon via email . . .
Margaret Evans: It’s been almost ten years since Virginia’s Ring was published. Are you intentionally following in the (notoriously slow) footsteps of your late mentor Pat Conroy? Will it be another decade before we get Part III in your trilogy?
Lynn Seldon: That wasn’t the plan. Heck, Pat and I talked a lot about Carolina’s Ring and I hoped I would finish it years ago. I just kept wanting to make it better and I suspect Pat felt the same about his long-awaited books. And, I hope to finish Georgia’s Ring, Part III of The Ring Trilogy, much quicker. It’s already outlined, so I just need to march forth with Georgia’s story.
ME: You wrote most of Carolina’s Ring in Pat Conroy’s office. What was that like?
LS: For more than four years, at Cassandra King’s invitation, I reported to Pat’s desk and focused on Carolina’s tale. Often, a cheery cardinal appeared at the window, and I’d swear it was Pat’s large-than-life spirit checking on my progress. When I groped for the right word, which was often, there was lots of inspiration (as well as procrastination possibilities) nearby, thanks to more than 5,000 of Pat’s beloved (and recently catalogued) books.
Writing Carolina’s Ring in Pat’s office was a true blessing, and I didn’t take it lightly. Pat set the bar very high, and I felt that influence with every word written (and deleted). Thus, Carolina’s Ring is a love letter of sorts to The Citadel, Charleston . . . and Pat.
ME: You started out as a military journalist, travel writing is your bread and butter, and you do some great food writing for us here at Lowcountry Weekly. But writing novels is a whole different animal. How does it compare with your “day job,” satisfaction-wise?
LS: I once thought that writing fiction would be easier because I could just ‘make stuff up.’ Boy was I wrong! Writing travel articles is actually much easier, in that I’ve had 30-plus years of practice after first writing for Stars & Stripes when stationed in Germany. The travel articles also provide immediate gratification, versus fiction.
ME: You and your wife Cele have worked as travel writers for decades. In fact, this email exchange is happening between Beaufort and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Lots of people dream of a life like yours! Where are some of your favorite professional destinations? Is there a place on your “bucket list” that you’ve not yet visited/written about?
LS: Well, we love exploring and writing about the Carolinas. And, wine regions anywhere in the world. Small ship cruises are also a fave (we’ve been on 60 or so cruises) and we embark tomorrow on a 14-night cruise with Windstar in the Caribbean’s Leeward Islands. Our “bucket list” is still long and ever-evolving, but #1 is currently an African safari paired with South Africa’s wine country.
ME: Who are some of your favorite writers?
LS: The list is long. Pat, of course. In no particular order… the late Jim Harrison; Barbara Kingsolver; Ron Rash; Elizabeth Berg; Mark Powell; Anita Shreve; Wiley Cash; Ernest Hemingway; James Michener; F. Scott Fitzgerald. And, Cassandra King, natch.
ME: What are you reading right now?
LS: The Rum Diary, by Hunter S. Thompson (of Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas fame). It’s about his time spent as a journalist in San Juan and you can really see the evolution of gonzo journalism on every page. I’m pairing my evening reading time with Don Q rum, which locals recommend over Bacardi.
Local Book Launch Events for Lynn Seldon’s Carolina’s Ring
Wednesday, February 15
Carolina’s Ring Publication Day Pop-In
5 – 7 pm
Pat Conroy Literary Center
601 Bladen Street
Saturday, February 18
In Conversation with John Warley
4 – 6 pm
2127 Boundary Street
Thursday, March 2
Reception & Signing
5 – 7pm
910 Port Republic Street
Saturday, March 4
Noon – 4pm
919 Bay Street