Melinda Rainey Thompson and Morgan Murphy have been tearing up the Southeast on their book tour for I Love You–Now Hush. Before they share their wit and humor at the Alabama Book Festival this weekend, we asked them to fill us in on how it’s been going. Their response is well worth the read:
The book tour as told by Melinda Rainey Thompson
If you have to take a 3,000-mile road trip with a man you are not married to, I suggest you find someone like my coauthor of I Love You—Now Hush, Morgan Murphy. My dire prediction before we hit the highway was that we’d return as mortal enemies or be bonded for life.
I’m happy to report that I had a hard time returning Morgan to his wife. That man is plenty useful to have around and more fun than shopping with someone else’s credit card.
First of all, he volunteered to drive on our book tour—the whole way. If there is a sweeter word in a Southern woman’s vocabulary than “driver,” I don’t know what that would be.
He drove his big, 20-year-old red Cadillac, which is like being carted to book events and interviews while sprawled on a roomy recliner sofa. I liked that just FINE.
And if your chauffeur also happens to be a former Southern Living travel editor and food critic, well…BIG bonus. Morgan knows where to eat and drink in any city. I know where to shop. Perfect teamwork.
If you can find a tour buddy who will play music to coordinate with the states streaming past your window—Elvis in Memphis and the blues in Mississippi—you’ve got a peach of a writing partner. Morgan even serenaded me with Gilbert and Sullivan selections. I don’t know another man in the world who would do that.
Men like Morgan are good at making things work out. One day, we needed to kill a little time in Jackson, Mississippi. We thought it would be fun to tour Eudora Welty’s home. Sadly, we arrived just after closing time. I was crushed. But Morgan leaned over and whispered, “Everything is negotiable.” Then he proceeded to charm his way into a private, after-hours tour. The entire time I was leaning out the window of the car, yelling things like, “You can’t go up in there! They’re closed! Didn’t you see the sign? You can’t just ask them to…Oh. Okay. Be right there.”
Finally, I can say that it is nice to travel with a big, tall man the size of Morgan. He cuts a wide path in restaurants, television and radio stations, and on city sidewalks. I get to saunter behind him at my leisure. I like that, too.
I admit that one night in New Orleans when he stepped out of the Caddy to break up a fight in the French Quarter, he scared me to death. I thought he was going to die, right then before we even had our café au lait and beignets, and I was not happy until he got back in the car—unscathed, of course. Those hooligans scattered like roaches. Morgan is a lot more fearless than I am, but then he’s a Navy man. His instinct is to wade right into the middle of things. My instinct is to run away and hide.
Book tours are a fun gig if you can get them. Morgan and I have some stories to tell you!
The book tour as told by Morgan Murphy
When faced with a 3,000-mile cross-country tour, I immediately gassed up the old Cadillac. Why?
I hate to fly. I’m not afraid of the aircraft, mind you. It’s the other passengers who scare me.
Today, travelers wandering about the average airport look as if they’ve just walked the dog or returned from some exhausting sporting event. Or maybe they’re rumpled from having to take off half their clothing going through a scanner and magic wand procedure. Then we’re crammed into small seats, forced to jam our luggage into bins, and told not to smoke our cigars.
It’s altogether miserable.
Which is why I loaded up the geezer Caddy—no distance is too great to drive in avoidance of a flight. Melinda, if she had any reservations about motoring across the country in a fluffy old sloshmobile, graciously looked past my anti-flying idiosyncrasy.
Okay, she looked past a lot of other stuff, too. Like my refusal to eat at a chain restaurant. Or my singing Elvis and Gilbert & Sullivan for 700 miles. And I’ll admit that I secretly tried to dehydrate Melinda so we wouldn’t have to stop for a bathroom break every 30 minutes or so. I know, I know–I’m terrible.
Traveling with Melinda is a delight. Bless her, Melinda didn’t pack a single piece of workout attire. No. She always looked elegant and dignified–right out of a travel ad, that woman. And she remained calm even in the face of adversity. You can’t have a 3,000-mile trip in a 20-year-old car without adversity. Our problem? The gas gauge gave out 20 miles from home. I mistakenly thought the car was getting excellent mileage. That is, until I realized that the needle was stuck at the quarter tank mark. I pounded the dashboard and let fly a few adjectives I picked up in the Navy.
As we waited for AAA, Melinda could have chewed me out or made some understandable complaints about the lack of powder rooms on that particular stretch of roadway. But she didn’t. Instead, she simply patted the Cadillac and said, “That’s a good girl. I just though you were running extra quiet.”
Even better, she then kept my dark secret of running out of gas. That’s a great travel companion. And a true friend.
If you find yourself in Montgomery, Alabama, this weekend, you can catch half of this hilarious duo at the Alabama Book Festival. Melinda Rainey Thompson will be speaking at this free event at noon on Saturday, April 17.