By Howard Pousner
Atlanta author Kathy Hogan Trocheck was struggling this week with the ending of what will be her 18th book, due out next summer, but she was clear in her admiration for Harper Lee’s sole novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
“Harper Lee only wrote one book, but it was the only book she had to write, and that’s a book that’s left a lasting, indelible impression in the minds of everybody who’s read it or seen the movie,” she said.
Trocheck will speak Thursday during an event honoring “Mockingbird’s” 50th anniversary. Poet Paul Guest and novelist Jack Riggs also will be panelists at the free luncheon sponsored by the Gwinnett County Public Library and HarperCollins Publishers.
It will be followed by a screening of the 1962 film with Gregory Peck as small-town Alabama lawyer Atticus Finch, who fights racial injustice.
“Mockingbird” is “a morality play, and I think everyone wants to think we would have a little bit of the goodness and decency that Atticus Finch has,” said Trocheck, a former Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter who has penned almost as many novels under the nom de plume Mary Kay Andrews as she has using her own name.
In a rare interview in 1964, the ultra-private Lee allowed, “I never expected any sort of success with ‘Mockingbird.’ … I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of the reviewers, but at the same time, I sort of hoped someone would like it enough to give me encouragement. … I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I’d expected.”
A couple of years ago, an interviewer asked Trocheck who she would most like to break bread with and why.
The author’s response: “I’d love to meet and lunch with Harper Lee and ask her if she’d please write another novel.”
That’s not likely to happen, Trocheck knows. But she said she’s honored to participate in a panel on “someone I believe is an icon not just for Southern writers but for writers everywhere.”
50th anniversary celebration of “To Kill a Mockingbird”
Noon Thursday. Free (and not limited to Gwinnett residents) but lunch reservations required. Garden Plaza at Lawrenceville, a senior living community. 230 Collins Industrial Way, Lawrenceville. 770-236-8333, www.gwinnettpl.org.