WILSON, N.C. — Barton College and the Friends of Hackney Library are pleased to welcome bestselling author Steve Berry to campus for his first stop on a national book tour to promote “The Jefferson Key” (published by Ballantine Books, May 2011), the latest novel in his series of thrillers featuring protagonist Cotton Malone.

Berry will kick off his tour on Wednesday, May 18, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., with a book signing and reception on the first floor of Hackney Library. The author’s remarks will begin at 6 p.m. Sponsored by the Barton College Friends of Hackney Library, this event is free of charge, and the community is invited to attend. Copies of “The Jefferson Key” will be available for purchase during the event.

In addition to signing books during his appearance, Berry will also speak about the history of North Carolina and how it applies to his latest work (the Old North State serves as one of several backdrops in “The Jefferson Key”), his passionate support of historic preservation, and his work as an author.

Steve Berry was raised in Georgia and graduated from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. His success as a novelist was slow in coming; it took 12 years, 85 rejections and over five different manuscripts before he was able to sell a story. Now he is a fixture on the “New York Times” bestseller lists, with over 12 million books in print and translations into 40 languages in 51 countries.

His previous novels in the Cotton Malone series include “The Emperor’s Tomb,” “The Paris Vendetta,” “The Charlemagne Pursuit,” “The Venetian Betrayal,” “The Alexandra Link,” and “The Templar Legacy.”  He has also written three stand-alone thrillers: “The Third Secret,” “The Romanov Prophecy,” and “The Amber Room,” and two e-book original short stories: “The Balkan Escape” and “The Devil’s Gold.”  Berry is extremely active in the writing community (as an accomplished instructor, he has taught writing to audiences across the globe) and is a former president and founding member of International Thriller Writers.

Berry’s fiction has garnered him a number of awards. In June 2005, he was selected by the Georgia Writer’s Association as its Author of the Year. In October 2005, the Amelia Book Island Festival awarded Berry its first Stellar Award. “The Charlemagne Pursuit” was selected as one of the five Best Thrillers for 2008 by “Library Journal.”  In 2010, the Amelia Island Book Festival recognized him once again by naming him the festival’s first Literary Leader. Earlier, this year, Berry received the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award from the University of Scranton.

A devoted student of history, Berry is dedicated to researching his novels. In 2010, he and his wife, Elizabeth, founded History Matters—a nonprofit organization dedicated to aiding the preservation of the fragile reminders of our past. Since then, they have traveled the world raising much-needed funds for a wide range of historic preservation projects. Appropriately enough for history aficionados, Berry and his wife reside in the historic city of St. Augustine, Florida.

As in his previous works, Berry’s devotion to history also comes through in his latest novel. “The Jefferson Key” begins with the attempted assassination of President Andrew Jackson and then follows a slalom course of thrills as he deftly combines suspense with solid historical fact.

Former Justice Department operative, now Copenhagen bookseller, Cotton Malone returns to the United States for his first domestic adventure. Along the way he battles an obscure clause in the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson’s secret cipher, an old enemy out for revenge, and a cadre of modern day pirates firmly rooted in their buccaneer ways. In addition to North Carolina, other locales, including Virginia, Washington D.C., New York City and Nova Scotia, figure in the setting of the novel.

For more information about the event, please contact Hackney Library at 252-399-6503 or email Cynthia Collins at cecollins@barton.edu.

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