Ahoskie native returns home for book signing

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 8, 2004

AHOSKIE – Surrounded by the company of family and friends, fiction suspense writer Michael Rivers greeted local fans and curious onlookers during a book-signing event at Quinton’s Restaurant and Lounge in downtown Ahoskie Friday afternoon.

Traveling on and off since May of last year, when his new thriller, The Voyage of the Black Witch, was released, Rivers expressed his delight at being able to return to his native hometown, a place he described as being very &uot;near and dear&uot; to his heart.

Conversing with guests lined up to purchase copies of his captivating work, Rivers seemed to enjoy reconnecting with old schoolmates and smiled as he reminisced about growing up in Ahoskie.

A 1971 graduate of the old Ahoskie High School, now boarded up, Rivers went on to join the United States Marine Corp, where he served in Vietnam and flew helicopters in combat in Rhodesia among other duties.

While in the service, he obtained an education through Cornell University in Connecticut and eventually moved to Chicago where he has remained ever since.

Rivers’ career as a writer began in the early 1990’s when a friend encouraged him to submit some of his work.

&uot;It was more like they harassed me into submitting,&uot; he joked. &uot;I did poetry professionally for a while and over time began experimenting with other styles of writing.&uot;

Admitting skepticism at the initial concept of writing novels, Rivers shared that once he took on the challenge, he found a tremendous affinity for it.

&uot;I never realized how much I would enjoy writing that way,&uot; he confided candidly.

Since its release, just over a year ago, Rivers is still receiving raving reviews from his readers.

On Amazon’s website a reader from Windsor commented, &uot;This book held my attention all the way through. I couldn’t wait to reach the conclusion and find out who would survive this nightmare at sea. I recommend this book to any and everyone that loves a good ghost story. I can’t wait for Michael Rivers’ next book.&uot;

Another reader from Rocky Mount who rated the book with five stars stated, &uot;I say it’s about time that a book such as Voyage of the Black Witch has been released. Unlike most novels in the horror/mystery genre, this is not the typical haunted house, scary killer ghost story, it actually has thought put into it.

The reader continued, &uot;There are really not enough good things to say about it. Its riveting storyline kept me awake into the wee hours of the morning, way past tired, reading, because I could not help but wonder what was going to happen next and where the next plot twist would pop up. I’ve bought copies for all my friends, family, and acquaintances and recommended it to those that I don’t know well enough to buy for. In short, this book is amazing, to say the least.&uot;

The story centers around a married couple who purchases a schooner with a haunting past.

&uot;The cursed ship belongs to a trickster named Balasco,&uot; explained Rivers. &uot;This guy is like the devil’s right hand man and feeds off the misery of others. He is an expert at manipulating time and creates dangerous illusions that actually hurt his victims.&uot;

For a book described by the editor as a novel riddled with &uot;tales of kidnapping, suicide and the disappearance of an entire crew,&uot; Rivers stated that his intention was to create a literary work that would entertain the mind and keep the reader captivated.

&uot;I want the readers to enjoy themselves when they read this book,&uot; he said. &uot;I don’t like boring.&uot;

Highlighting the intense difficulty of breaking into the realm of novel writing, Rivers stated, &uot;I know how hard it is and I was surprised because the book has been extremely successful. It’s a lot of work though and most people don’t realize how many hours you put in.

&uot;You have to place yourself in the shoes of your character and try to sense what they might be feeling by reading their expressions and watching how they behave to interpret their body language.&uot;

When Rivers first submitted his work, he was offered three different contracts before agreeing to be published under Virtual Book Worm Publishing.

&uot;I ended up turning all of them down because I didn’t like the way they read,&uot; he stated. &uot;I didn’t want my style to get commercialized.&uot;

Standing beside a table of family members from Gates and Hertford counties, he shared the reason why he chose &uot;Rivers&uot; as his professional name. &uot;My grandmother told me that her great grandfather’s name was ‘Two Rivers,&uot; and whether or not that was true, I started to think about how cool it was that where I come from there are many rivers, so it seemed appropriate.&uot;

With mother, Gladys Baugham, sisters Laverne Perry and Joy Ray, aunts Florence Wall of Winton, Iona Phelps of Ahoskie and Carol &uot;Bookie&uot; Ellis of Virginia, all present to share his new venture, Rivers expressed how thankful he was to be back home again.

&uot;This area is very near and dear to my heart,&uot; he said. &uot;There’s nothing like being south of the Mason-Dixon line and being here with family and friends is wonderful.&uot;

Rivers was also accompanied by his fianc\u00E9 of two years Rhea Doran. &uot;She is my inspiration,&uot; he said. &uot;I don’t go anywhere without her.&uot;

Doran was the object of dedication for Rivers’ novel. &uot;The inscription below her name that refers to dancing in the clouds is not just a mental picture of how she makes me feel,&uot; he said recanting the romantic mountain marriage proposal literally done above the clouds.

Rivers is scheduled to continue traveling to promote his book and has several engagements at colleges and universities.

He is the winner of a 1994 Editor’s Choice Award for Best Poet Worldwide and has been recognized for various other achievements. He has two sons, Derek and Dustin, and a brother in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Rivers extended a special thanks to Quinton’s staff and management for allowing him to utilize their restaurant and expressed gratitude for the friendly service.

To find out more about, The Voyage of the Black Witch, visit: www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com or to purchase direct go to www.virtualbookworm.com.