Virtually Meet Grady Hendrix tomorrow at 2 PM, author of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires

Reader Meet WriterOkra Picks

Company’s coming. Let us bring authors to your living room.  Our first author in the Okra Pick series is Grady Hendrix.  You may have read Grady’s earlier works: We Sold Our SoulsMy Best Friend’s Exorcismand Horrorstor. Grady will be talking with us about his newest book The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. and answering your questions.  Grady is one of many authors we’ll be bringing to your living room.

Grady Hendrix has cemented his place as a literary luminary…cancel your plans and lock your doors, you won’t be able to stop reading this one until the very end. — Sarah Gailey, author of Magic for Liars

Here are the details you need:

Date: Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Time: 2 PM CST
RSVP here

Attendance is limited.

If you elect to attend, we will email you on Tuesday morning the link & password to attend this virtual event, plus the link to purchase books.  Happy Reading!

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires

Steel Magnolias meets Dracula in this ’90s-set horror novel about a women’s book club that must do battle with a mysterious newcomer to their small Southern town, perfect for murderinos and fans of Stephen King.

Patricia Campbell’s life has never felt smaller. Her husband is a workaholic, her teenage kids have their own lives, her senile mother-in-law needs constant care, and she’s always a step behind on her endless to-do list. The only thing keeping her sane is her book club, a close-knit group of Charleston women united by their love of true crime. At these meetings they’re as likely to talk about the Manson family as they are about their own families.

One evening after book club, Patricia is viciously attacked by an elderly neighbor, bringing the neighbor’s handsome nephew, James Harris, into her life. James is well traveled and well read, and he makes Patricia feel things she hasn’t felt in years. But when children on the other side of town go missing, their deaths written off by local police, Patricia has reason to believe James Harris is more of a Bundy than a Brad Pitt. The real problem? James is a monster of a different kind—and Patricia has already invited him in.

Little by little, James will insinuate himself into Patricia’s life and try to take everything she took for granted—including the book club—but she won’t surrender without a fight in this blood-soaked tale of neighborly kindness gone wrong.

Contributor Bio(s):
Grady Hendrix is a novelist and screenwriter based in New York City. He is the author of Horrorstör, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, Paperbacks from Hell, and We Sold Our Souls, all of which received critical praise from outlets including NPR, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, the A.V. Club, Paste, Buzzfeed, and more. He has contributed to Playboy, The Village Voice, and Variety.

See the Usborne/Kane Miller Books that just arrived

We place a big order with Usborne/Kane Miller about 3 times a year and had just placed one right before we shut down to in-store browsing. Since you can’t come in and see what just arrived, I thought I’d record what I unpacked. Shop these titles at our website:

(The boxes were delivered a week prior, and these were opened on 4/4).

Bringing the Writing Workshop to You: Creativity Exercises for the Stuck-At-Home Writer

Last summer, two other authors and I held a Lil’ Haints Creative Writing Workshop at the bookstore tailored to young authors from nine to fourteen. It was absolutely amazing to see the kids’ eyes light up as they told us about the stories they were working on. The students inspired us just as much as we inspired them, I think.

As I was casting around for ideas on how I could use my talents in this uncertain, coronavirus time to help others, I wondered, could putting my Lil’ Haints workshopping lessons online help encourage and entertain young authors at home?

What follows is the workshop I gave on “Brainstorms & Origin Stories” redesigned for this format:

Today’s workshop is about how to be a creative person—whether you write, draw, or underwater basket weave as my middle school teacher used to say. Being creative is about keeping yourself open to possibilities. It’s about observing the world around you and putting things together in weird, varied, unusual ways and making it work. Allowing other people to see the world the way you do. Or seeing the world the way you wish it would be. Sharing your experiences in ways that makes someone else sit up and say “hey! I feel the same way”. Or “I think the same way too”.

Being creative is all about connecting.

So first off, we’ll talk about origin stories, then how we can brainstorm our own—whether we want to create a poem, flash fan fiction, or a sketch.

Who all is into superheroes? We know their origin stories, right? How they came to be—climbing walls like a spider or flying faster than a speeding bullet. Books have origin stories too—how they start with a tiny spark of imagination, then grow into something amazing like a book that has its own life. I have three to talk about today: Marcie Colleen’s PENGUINAUT! that started with a Facebook post; Heather Montgomery’s SOMETHING ROTTEN that began as a question; and my picture book that’s coming out later this year, SASSAFRAS AND HER TEENY TINY TAIL, which grew from an observation.

An interview with author Marcie Colleen on how she came up with the idea for her picture book, PENGUINAUT! (I used picture books as some of the examples even though these workshops are geared for middle grade because I’m able to read the entire text in one workshop, and because I believe no one is too old for a picture book )

Nonfiction Alabama author Heather Montgomery was a keynote speaker at Metro-Mobile Literacy Council’s Young Authors Conference and told us her story about finding a dead rattlesnake on the side of the road. She was curious as to how the fangs retracted and that fascination took her all over the US and even the other side of the world to study roadkill. For interviews, visit her site.

And here’s the link to my book’s origin story.

1.To get the creativity flowing we passed around story cubes, which you can also do at home—make it a fun family activity! As a group, we chose a genre (horror!) and made connections to get the imagination jump-started. Other genres to choose from can be fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, or romance.

You can make your own with a cereal box and magazines. Divide the cereal box into six squares, cut out and tape to make a cube. Select various pictures from the magazine, cut and tape to the outside of your cube. Voila!

2. We talked about how creativity allows you to share the way you see the world. In the next exercise, you’ll pick an item at home and give it a voice.

In the workshop, I picked Mardi Gras beads because they’re everywhere in my house. I imagined them hanging from a live oak along a parade route. Around a kid’s neck. Then, a fate I’m sure beads would rather avoid if they could think or had feelings—abandoned in a dirty puddle of mud and trash. And those three images helped me brainstorm an excerpt from a middle grade story I wrote. [I read it during the workshop but as the manuscript is now on submission, I can’t copy it here. Sorry!]

Choose an item around your house. Brainstorm diverse and unusual ways to associate with your item and write those down. How can you make connections and weave a story around it? What story does the item want or need to tell?

In whatever you do, even stuck at home, be a person open to creativity and inspiration. Observe the natural world around you—maybe a squirrel with a sad short tail becomes a book on how our differences make us heroes. Take note of the weird and awesome things your family does. Write down how the coronavirus pandemic has changed your world—you’re a part of history now.

The Writer’s Room at the mezzanine level of the Haunted Bookshop has a whole shelf dedicated to young authors. Angela is offering No Contact curbside pickup, select neighborhood porch drop-offs, and free, local shipping if your writer needs more ideas on creativity or to add to their how-to library while they’re out of school and at home.

Stay home. Read a book. Be creative. And wash those hands.

We got in some board games, puzzles, and playing cards

We’d heard that folks were having a tough time finding games and puzzles, and the like, so we grabbed some from our distributor to help keep boredom at bay while you’re staying safe at home! We can do curbside or home delivery for these and are grouped under a new category on our website to make it easy for you to shop.

We’re starting virtual “office hours”

As we continue to adapt and evolve to being an online-only store for now while we weather this pandemic, we’re trying to think of ways to still be there for you in the world of books. It’s heartbreaking not having all of your voices and laughter and the excited kid voices in the store. We started posting video tours of the store for you to get your “fix” but we know that isn’t the same. So we had an idea–why not have Zoom “office hours” that we post and for those who want to drop in, can do so and chat with us. We’ll be on regardless during that time to see each others’ faces and voices and we’d love to have you join us too! Even if it’s just to say hi and let us know how you’re doing! Or if you loved the last book Alex recommended to you and now want another recommendation. Or you have kids who need books and would like to ask Candice for a recommendation. Or you’re looking for a good Romance to escape into and want Angela to weigh in — we’re here for you!

In a quick Zoom call we had today, we decided to call these “Virtual Countertop” sessions, but if you have a better name, we’re open to suggestions!

Join us for our first Virtual Countertop session this Thursday at 4 PM CST. To get the Zoom invite, just email us at and put VIRTUAL COUNTERTOP in the subject heading and we’ll send you an invite!


VIDEO: Tour our Horror & Gothic Fiction Section

Continuing with our new series of videos to bring the bookstore into your home, here’s a video tour of our Horror and Gothic Fiction section! To shop our selection, go to our website at


Our regulars are familiar with our setup, but for the uninitiated, we have info panels that show the history of the genre, and we hyper-categorize our sections. So in this video you will see smaller subsections at first, like Classics, Humorous, Stephen King, etc., and then our main Horror section, followed by more subcategories like Local Authors of Horror, and our New Releases, as well as our separate Gothic Fiction section, and then Stoker award winners and finalists. Enjoy!

VIDEO: Tour of our Science Fiction Section

Continuing with our new series of videos to bring the bookstore into your home, here’s a video tour of our Science Fiction section! To shop our selection, go to our website at

Our regulars are familiar with our setup, but for the uninitiated, we have info panels that show the history of the genre, and we hyper-categorize our sections. So in this video you will see smaller subsections at first, like Classics, Misc. Franchises, Alternate History, etc., and then our main Science Fiction section, followed by more subcategories like Military SF. Time Travel, Local Authors of SF, and then our New Releases area of Science Fiction, award winners and finalists. Enjoy!