Reading Matters

Tale of writing friendship: Mignon Ballard and Ruth Moose

This is the story of two friends: Mignon Ballard and Ruth Moose. Each has a new mystery – cozies – and each will be signing those books at 2 p.m. Saturday at Park Road Books, Park Road Shopping Center.

The friendship goes back a long way, to the 1970s, when Ruth was the judge for the Charlotte Writers’ Club Juvenile Fiction Contest. She selected Mignon Ballard’s story, “Sad Sam and the Summer Shack,” as first place winner.

Ruth was so impressed with the story that she invited Mignon, who lived in Fort Mill, S.C., to join a small writers group that met in the Charlotte studio of her late husband, the artist Talmadge Moose.

The years went by. The group moved from place to place, meeting for many years at the now-defunct Poplar Street Books in Fourth Ward.

“The group laughed a lot, and they cried a lot,” says Ruth. “Mignon published mystery after mystery.”

Ruth, who was writing short stories and poems, moved with her husband to Stanly County, where she worked as the reference librarian at Pfeiffer University. She went on to graduate school, then moved to Chapel Hill to teach in the creative writing department at UNC.

While Mignon was churning out the mysteries, Ruth was publishing collections of poetry and short stories.

Ruth had never been strong on plotting. But a quarter century ago, Mignon had shown Ruth the ropes, and to practice, Ruth drafted a mystery.

Two years ago, Ruth got out that old draft and polished it up to enter into a contest. “Doing It at the Dixie Dew” won first place and $10,000 in the Malice Domestic Prize from St. Martin’s Press. This month, the sequel to that mystery, “Wedding Bell Blues,” is out from St. Martin’s.

Meanwhile, Mignon’s huband died, and she moved back to her hometown of Calhoun, Ga. This month, her 20th cozy mytery, “Miss Dimple and the Slightly Bewildered Angel,” is out from Minatour Books.

So Ruth and Mignon will come together once again to read from their novels and sign books.

Mignon will also sign books at 10 a.m. Saturday at Crossings on Main in Fort Mill.

You’ll want to be on hand at 2 p.m. to hear Mignon and Ruth talk about their friendship and the years they’ve spent plotting, laughing and crying together. You won’t be disappointed.