Iles book-signing benefit planned to support Natchez Children’s Home

Published 12:13am Sunday, April 20, 2014

NATCHEZ — Greg Iles fans looking to get their names autographed in his latest book will have the chance at an upcoming benefit the Natchez author is hosting for the Natchez Children’s Home.

Autographed and personalized copies of “Natchez Burning,” the latest novel from the New York Times best-selling author will be available from 5:30-9 p.m. May 15 at Dunleith. Food and drinks will be available, as well as live music.

“It is going to be a party,” Iles said.

All of the proceeds from the book sales for the benefit will go to the Children’s Home, which serves at-risk youth in the area.

No tickets are required for the benefit, but those who plan to attend the event are asked to place their book orders through the Children’s Home to ensure there are enough on hand. Iles will sign and personalize the pre-ordered books before the event, but will also be available to sign any leftover copies that will be sold at the benefit.

Books should be ordered by calling the Children’s Home at 601-442-6858, or at gregiles.com.

“Natchez Burning,” which hits shelves April 29, is Iles’ latest Penn Cage novel and picks up where “The Devil’s Punchbowl” ended.

Iles said he chose the Children’s Home as the cause for his benefit because it, like many other charitable organizations, suffered during the economic downturn.

“Organizations like that were crippled by the fact that people suddenly lost a massive amount of their wealth, and they stopped giving on a massive scale. In Natchez, one of the places really hurt by that was the Children’s Home.”

Children’s Home director Nancy Hungerford said the home also had to make changes to its services during the economic downturn.

The home now focuses its efforts on preventive services, such as its advocacy center for victims of abuse, instead of residential services.

“We’re serving more children than we did when we were a residential (facility). We have had less funding because people don’t understand we’re still serving children, more children, we’re just not having them sleep here.”

Hungerford said the Children’s Home is deeply grateful for Iles’ generosity.

“Greg has been a longtime supporter of the Children’s Home,” she said. “We remain a privately funded agency, and we just depend on folks going things just like Greg is doing.”

“This is going to be an exciting time for Natchez, as all of us have looked forward to Greg’s book. To make his signature signing event in his hometown and have it benefitting us and the children we’re serving, makes it extra meaningful and will be a significant help to us as we continue to make changes at the home and continue to serve the children.”

Iles said he does not want his African-American readers to avoid the benefit because it is at an antebellum home.

“I don’t know that they necessarily would … but how I feel about Dunleith and all the other antebellum houses, is that they wouldn’t even exist without the craftsmanship of the African-American people of that time, and I want those people to come, and I want them to see what’s in this book, and I want them to feel invited and included.

“What I want this to be is a true, old school Natchez party and celebration that I am back in the saddle, and Natchez is back on the shelf.”