Author Paulette Jiles grew up in a small town, lives in a small town and understands the nature of volunteers who tackle so many tasks in the community.
“If you go to the post office and see the Meals on Wheels lady, don’t get out of your pickup,” she quipped, or you’ll be hit up to volunteer.
Jiles was guest author at the Friends of the Kaufman County Library’s 16th annual Book and Author Luncheon Thursday, Oct. 20.
She spoke of her recently released book, “News of the World,” and signed copies.
Her prior works include the best-seller “Enemy Women,” “The Color of Lightning,” “Stormy Weather,” “Lighthouse Island” and memoir “Cousins.”
Jiles grew up in Missouri and lives in Utopia in the Texas Hill Country.
“It’s a wonderful place for me,” she said.
She said that, as a writer, she loves the solitude offered by her location but is also appreciative of the help of her neighbors. She keeps busy when she’s not writing by participating in the community with church choir and playing Irish tin whistle in a band.
Her latest work revives Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd from a previous work and gives him his own book.
An elderly widower, Kidd travels in northern Texas giving newspaper readings for 10 cents a person.
The newspaper readings allow the audience to explore the world of imagination, almost fairy tale like, since the stories are from far away places, she said.
He is offered the chance to deliver a young girl, recently rescued from captivity by Kiowa Indians, to relatives 400 miles away in San Antonio.
And that proves a challenge in many ways, from the harsh climate to her rebelliousness.
Jiles said she did a lot of research on the psychology of the captured child, which presents its own challenges.
Returned captives have always had trouble readjusting, she explained.
“News of the World” was recently named a finalist for the National Book Award.
Proceeds from the luncheon benefit the children’s programs at the Kaufman County Library, including the summer reading program which drew 300 children and the Wednesday morning Read To Me program which attracts 65-70 children weekly.
Dave Randall, president of the Friends of the Library, said Kaufman is fortunate to have a community and elected officials who support a library.
“Everybody thinks the internet abolished libraries,” he said. But books can go places the internet cannot.
The library serves as a repository of literacy, he said.
“We must never take our library for granted,” he concluded.