Iles has more than books rooted in Natchez

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 13, 2002

NATCHEZ &045;&045; Unlike many successful writers who hail from small towns, Greg Iles has found that you can go home again … or never leave at all.

Even with several best-sellers under his belt, Iles said he’s never felt the microscopic scrutiny of celebrity from fellow Natchez residents.

&uot;I fit in this town,&uot; he said. &uot;That’s why I’m still here.&uot;

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And while Iles has based some of his work on real Natchez events, he said local reaction to his books has been positive on the whole.

&uot;I was worried the most on The Quiet Game,&uot; Iles said. &uot;I expected a backlash.&uot;

But, as he took a break from signing copies of his new thriller Sleep No More Saturday at Bowie’s Tavern, Iles said things have begun to change.

Iles said he has received much more attention for his soon-to-be-released movie than for any of his books.

&uot;It’s different now than it was,&uot; Iles said. &uot;I’ve got resumes in the mail, headshots …&uot;

Iles’ increasing success has affected his workload, too.

With a novel due Oct. 1 and two screenplays in the works, Iles said he has had to trim his schedule drastically.

&uot;There’s not enough hours in the day.&uot;

In spite of the new links to Hollywood, Iles remains rooted in Mississippi.

In fact, Iles will not make any appearances outside the state on his current five-stop book-signing tour.

Natchez resident Peggy Hill said Iles’ close ties to his hometown come through in his books.

&uot;It makes it a little more personal,&uot; Hill said. &uot;You can tell that he was raised here.&uot;

Having a best-selling author around is good for local bookshops, too.

Rosemary Hall said Iles’ books are among the most popular at her husband Charles’ bookstore, Cover to Cover.

&uot;We sell his books every day,&uot; Hall said. &uot;The tourists love them.&uot;

As he has done in the past, Iles used his local popularity to raise funds for his alma mater.

Iles donated approximately half of the proceeds from the Saturday book-signing to Trinity Episcopal Day School.

By the end of the day, volunteers from the high school had raked in a substantial amount, with approximately 800 books sold.

But Iles said his contribution was only a drop in the bucket.

&uot;It’s hard to support these schools,&uot; Iles said, referring to Natchez’s private learning institutions. &uot;Everybody has to do what they can.&uot;