Meeting Jan Karon

September 24, 2015


Leslie Anne Tarabella and Jan Karon, Fairhope Alabama, Mitford books, Come Rain or Come Shine

Well, first of all, let me tell you . . . Jan Karon is awesome.

Come Rain or Come Shine, Jan Karon event in Fairhope, AL

I was tickled beyond belief to be invited to moderate best selling author Jan Karon‘s appearance in Fairhope earlier this week. Page and Palette Bookstore hosted the popular author of the “Mitford” series at an exciting event which benefited the Shepherd’s Place Foundation.

Jan Karon event, Fairhope Alabama, Come Rain or Come ShineThese kind ladies manned the busy ticket table where they distributed gorgeous maps of Mitford, NC, the fictional town which is the setting for most of Karon’s novels about an Episcopal Priest, his loyal flock, and a community of deeply caring, kooky and colorful characters.


Susie Caminiti, Fairhope AL, Shepherd's Place event with Jan Karon

The Chairman of The Shepherd’s Place Foundation, Susie Caminiti, welcomed the crowd of about three hundred to Fairhope United Methodist Church.


Leslie Anne Harrison Tarabella, Fairhope Alabama, Jan Karon event
Leslie Anne Tarabella with Author Jan Karon in Fairhope Alabama – Page and Palette Bookstore.

I was up next, and asked the audience who had traveled the farthest just to see Jan Karon. There were probably about a dozen people who had come from over 300 miles, and the two winners came all the way to lil’ ole Fairhope from Massachusetts and Northern Kentucky! One lovely family drove down with their three beautiful daughters all the way from Tennessee. The eleven year old daughter brought Jan Karon a pot holder she had crocheted herself. Such very loyal fans! Those who traveled the farthest were given autographed Mitford maps.


Leslie Anne Tarabella and Jan Karon, Fairhope Alabama, Mitford books
Jan Karon in Fairhope Alabama with Leslie Anne Tarabella with Page and Palette Bookstore.

And then, the star of the show arrived. Jan Karon is beyond charming, talented and funny. She is truly blessed with a real gift. I wish I had recorded the entire interview, because there were so many deeply moving things she said, you would just melt. Jan talked about how she quit her advertising job when she was 50 so she could focus on writing a book.


While praying and thinking of what to write, she had an image of a “short, balding, overweight priest,” and the story evolved from there. It wasn’t until she had written many pages that she finally came up with the name, “Father Timothy Cavanaugh,” an Episcopal Priest the world would come to love. The first installments of the book were actually published in her local newspaper  . . . and that’s how the Mitford tales began.


Mitford Books by Jan KaronJan spoke of her love for animals, how she made a conscious decision to use only clean language, and how she felt called to be a pastor when she was a little girl but was told that was only a job for men. The crowd laughed through many of her stories and sat spellbound when she encouraged us all to follow our dreams no matter what our age. “God has plans for us all. Go boldly before the throne.”


Leslie Anne Harrison Tarabella and Jan Karon, Mitford Books, Fairhope, AL

I’m not too nervous speaking in front of crowds and worried more about falling off the stage, since I’m known for falling down a lot (see my skinned knee?). I looked down at one point and realized I was only inches away from the edge of the stage, so I tried to just stay really still.


I mentioned my former book club in Marietta, GA, (hey Georgia girls!) where I read Jan’s first book, “At Home in Mitford” and while eating the famous Orange Marmalade Cake, had the seed planted to move to a place like Mitford. (It’s Fairhope!).


Leslie Anne Tarabella with Jan Karon, Come Rain or Come Shine, Fairhope Alabama

I shouldn’t have worried a bit, because with Jan Karon on stage, all conversation rolled naturally. Jan told us how she’s already on chapter seven of her next book, but when I asked her to give us a hint as to what we can expect, she wouldn’t reveal a thing. She did tell us that she hasn’t yet decided on a title. Oh, the thick excitement of anticipation!


There is already a cast of over 750 characters in her series of 11 books, and any one of them could have a major storyline of their own. (I’m not making that up . . . 750!).


The latest book, which was released this past Tuesday, “Come Rain or Come Shine” centers around the much anticipated wedding of favorite characters Dooley Barlow and Lace Harper. Karon said writing about a wedding was like planning a real-life wedding with all the details she researched.


Jan Karon, Mitford, Leslie Anne Harrison Tarabella
Jan Karon in Fairhope Alabama with Leslie Anne Tarabella and Page and Palette Bookstore at Fairhope United Methodist Church.

Jan Karon is strikingly beautiful in person, but her true beauty lies within her heart. She makes everyone around her feel comfortable, and is so truly lovely, the folks in Mitford would be thrilled to have her for their next door neighbor; as would all her fans in Fairhope . . . and beyond.  



To see Jan Karon‘s web site, click HERE.


Jan Karon is only visiting six cities for her “Come Rain or Come Shine” tour. Click HERE to see if she’s coming to a town near you!


The link to the Orange Marmalade Cake will take you to Kelly’s blog, Talk of the House. Kelly is also a huge Mitford fan!


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