Pulpwood Queen: Kathy Patrick's Literary Clout Extends Well Beyond the Piney Woods

It's a long trip to Kathy Patrick's little hair salon/bookstore, Beauty in the Book, nestled just outside the main street of historic Jefferson, Texas, deep in the Piney Woods. But plenty of people make the pilgrimage each year. From up-and-coming authors to members of Patrick's 515-chapter international book club The Pulpwood Queens, on any given day Beauty and the Book, which Kathy calls the only combination salon/bookstore in the world, is bustling with visitors.

It's in the tiny salon where Patrick, the subject of this week's feature, has launched a one-woman literary machine, helping authors reach bestseller lists, bringing the past-time of reading to masses of Pulpwood Queens (and Timber Guys, as male members of the book club are called), and helping develop a kind of mutually beneficial relationship between writers and their audience that allows each unprecedented access to the other.

That's the idea behind the Pulpwood Queen's annual convention, Girlfriend Weekend, which in January will celebrate its twelfth year. On the last night of the convention, attendees get gussied up for a banquet called The Great Big Ball of Hair, and the authors who've spent the weekend speaking behind podiums get to don aprons and act as waitstaff.

In the video below, hear Patrick talk about what happened when her favorite living author, Pat Conroy, was the keynote speaker at Girlfriend Weekend a few years ago.

Pulpwood Queen Kathy Patrick from Houston Press on Vimeo.

This 2012 keynote will be delivered by Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil author John Berendt. Girlfriend Weekend takes place January 12-15. Until then, check out this week's feature, Oprah of the Piney Woods.

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Shey is an experienced blogger, social media expert and traveler. She studied journalism at Oklahoma State University before working as a full-time reporter for Houston Community Newspapers in 2005. She lived in South Korea for three years, where she worked as a freelancer.
Contact: Brittanie Shey