Say it with 'Feelings'
Solace of library after loss of parents buoyed first novel
Mike Maple/The Commercial Appeal
Easing her mourning after the death of her parents, the library ''was here for me. It was the one place I could have my little refuge," says Tempie King. She read excerpts and signed copies of her novel, "Feelings," at the Bullfrog Corner Bookworms monthly meeting at the M.R. Dye Public Library in Horn Lake on Tuesday.
By Wayne Risher
November 22, 2006
The Horn Lake library was Tempie King's refuge when she needed a quiet place and a computer to finish a novel she began more than a decade ago.
She was getting over the death of both parents within one month when she faced the unfinished business of her book.
Her home and computer had been damaged by the wind storm of 2003, known as Hurricane Elvis.
"It was this library where I was able to come and finish 'Feelings,'" said King, 52, a DeSoto County resident who grew up in Lakeview Gardens north of the Tennessee line.
"I found solace in my writing and I found solace in coming to this library. It was here for me. It was the one place I could have my little refuge."
The author visited with the M.R. Dye Public Library's Bullfrog Corner Bookworms book club Tuesday and basked in the success of her first novel, "Feelings."
"Feelings" was published in January by PublishAmerica. It's the story of Manerva R. Jones, a Southern character dedicated to fighting injustice.
The fictional account is based on King's own life, which has been split between Memphis and the South and her adopted home of Chicago.
"She's bolder than I could ever be," King said of the heroine.
In her writing, King goes by the pen name Tempie, which was inspired by the influence of Oprah Winfrey.
King once modeled Oprah fashions, a moment captured in a photo on the back cover of "Feelings."
King said, "What the picture didn't show was that Oprah's people were waiting to get the clothes back when I came off the runway."
As her own agent, publicist and promoter, King settled on the first-name-only moniker.
"If she can go by her first name and Cher and Madonna can, so can I."
King graduated from the former Geeter High School in Memphis the last year it was a county school. She was the first of five children in her family to get a college education, receiving a bachelor's in premedicine from LeMoyne-Owen College.
She was lead phlebotomist at Baptist Memorial Hospital before moving north. She was heading a medical lab when her aging parents became gravely ill and she decided to come home to help care for them.
King said she always kept diaries, journals and notes to herself, and she started trying to make a short story out of them in the 1980s. She had a book and everything but an ending by 1995, but she never finished it.
"If you knew me, it's about my whole life," King said.
"Manerva actually came alive once I started writing her story. She took the story and kind of maneuvered a little different from my outline."
The appearance at the Horn Lake library was part of a tour that has taken King to book stores across Memphis and the Mid-South.
Welcoming her were Carson Culver of the M. R. Dye Library, Sue Procter, Phil Brown, Annie Ruth Brown, Judy Kuntz and Barbara Adams.
Judith LeVault, a newcomer to Southaven, dropped by to hear King talk about the book. LeVault said she checked out a copy from the library, but she hadn't begun reading it yet.
King has a second novel in the works. She would reveal few details except that it will include some characters from "Feelings."
She's also busy planning a move to England, where she has a romantic interest -- a journalist and writer whom she met in book publishing circles.
"We're madly in love," she said.
It's also a longtime dream of hers to live in England. "That is my ultimate."
Her Web site is at www.tempieauthor.com