By Meg Hibbert, Contributing Writer
Readers, fellow writers, and friends turned out for the official release of Dan Smith’s newest novel, NEWS!, based on his early days as a young newspaper reporter.
Smith, a former editor of the Salem Times-Register, was the star at the event in Hollins University’s Moody Center July 31.
The novel lives up to the description by Roanoke Times writer Dan Casey describes it, “A wild ride through journalism.” Charissa Roberson for the Salem Times-Register called it “an entertaining read with interesting insights into the world of journalism.”
The opening sentences of “NEWS!” are enough to pique the interest of journalists and admirers, but not for the faint of heart. Smith’s character, Eb McCourry, describes victims of a horrific plane crash in North Carolina.
Sherry Payne sang an original song she wrote for the release party, “We Call it The News,” as she and her husband, Jim Canody, provided background entertainment.
New and old fans of Smith gathered in small groups around the center as they discussed mutual interests.
Longtime friend Emily Paine Carter of Salem described the event as “the social event of the summer. Dan is such an entertaining writer. I like to support anything he writes, and the cause of journalism.” And, she added, “I came because there was a chance of cake.” Carter was referring to the cake decorated with an exact likeness of the cover of “NEWS!”
Fan Joyce Waugh, who lives in Southwest Roanoke County, said she came because “Dan has a new book and I like to support local journalism.”
Roanoke County songwriter Greg Trafidlo was at the release party to support his friend. “Dan, being the enigma that he is, has been one of the biggest influences I’ve had since moving to Roanoke. He’s just a good guy.”
Nancy Harvey of Roanoke is a new fan of Smith’s. “I came because I am really into local writers, such as Mary Bishop and Beth Macy. I’ve now added Dan Smith.’
Authors Bishop and Macy were contemporaries of Smith’s when he wrote for the Roanoke Times.
Even Trish White-Boyd, vice mayor of the City of Roanoke, was at the event with her husband and grandson to get Smith to sign her copy of the book.
Smith drew on his experiences as a young sports writer in his home state of North Carolina. He advanced to a news writer, photographer, editor, magazine writer and Public Radio essayist. He is a member of the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame, and has won state awards in nearly every newspaper and magazine category.
NEWS! is published by Propertius Press and is available in paperback and as an ebook. He will be signing books on Saturday, Aug. 6, from 11 am to 1 pm at Booked No Further in downtown Roanoke. Books are $20 each.