Here’s the thing about small towns: We know each other and try to help each other.
My friend Marc Hess has written a new novel, “The Gillespie County Fair,” which is being released this week. Most authors would want to launch the book at a big-box bookstore in a major Texas city.
But Marc understands the benefits of our small town and the connections it offers.
His book is set in nearby Gillespie County and is the tale of one family’s hope to keep hold of family properties, passed down from one generation to the next, from Fredericksburg pioneers to the present day. Let’s just say mistakes were made by the fictional family, and complications arise; keeping the property out of the hands of out-of-town investors is going to be almost impossible.
While launching the book in a major Texas market might appeal to some authors, Marc wants to focus on those readers who want to shop local.
Enter my friends Jon and Sandy Wolfmueller, owners of Wolfmueller’s Books on Earl Garrett Street in beautiful downtown Kerrville. The Wolfmuellers do a lot more than sell books; they encourage local authors and help celebrate books about our part of Texas.
The late Clarabelle Snodgrass wrote many books about local history, and the Wolfmuellers featured her books in both displays and with book signings. When an Austin author with local connections, Elizabeth Crook, published a novel set in nearby Camp Verde, the Wolfmuellers hosted a well-attended book signing. The late Joseph Luther enjoyed the support of the Wolfmuellers, both with book signing events and other help for each of his many well-researched books on the Texas Hill Country.
I’ve published three books on Kerr County history and would not have done so without the support and guidance of Jon and Sandy Wolfmueller.
The Wolfmuellers are hosting a book signing event for Hess and his new novel this coming Friday, May 3, from 4 to 6 p.m.
“The Gillespie County Fair” is set in present-day Fredericksburg. The main characters are struggling to keep up with the changes in their little town, where long-time merchants are finding their buildings are worth much more to out-of-town retailers focused on tourists than on the local trades once represented up and down Fredericksburg’s Main Street.
I’m old enough to remember that street sporting two bakeries, a hardware store, at least one pharmacy, a grocery store and several small-town jewelry companies. When I was young, in the late 1960s, the old “Sunday Houses” dotting the downtown area could be purchased for very little money — no one wanted the old things.
Let’s just say things have changed.
A walk down the sidewalks of Main Street in Fredericksburg on any sunny Saturday suggests the town is hitching its wagon to a very different horse these days.
Marc Hess let me read “The Gillespie County Fair” before it was published, and I enjoyed the book. I’m happy to recommend it to you.
I’m thankful we have a locally owned book store in downtown Kerrville that encourages and supports local writers. I hope you’ll join me at Wolfmueller’s Books this Friday to launch Marc Hess’s new novel, “The Gillespie County Fair.”
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who likes to read and hopes to encourage local writers.