CONYERS — Six years ago, Darrell Huckaby founded Huck’s Tours, a travel company that has taken him and scores of companions to all 50 states (twice) and 50 international locales.
Not surprisingly, it’s been about six years since Huckaby wrote and released his last book, the inspirational best seller, “Yea Though I Walk,” which discourses on just about every aspect of his battle with prostate cancer.
“We’ve been doing this for six years, so it’s not a coincidence that we haven’t had a book in six years,” said the longtime Rockdale County resident, who spent his formative days in the Newton County mill village of Porterdale.
That’s all about to change as the retired educator will soon publish his 12th book, a collection of newspaper columns titled “Still Southern After All These Years.” Huckaby’s prose can be found in about a dozen newspapers in North Georgia, including the Rockdale/Newton Citizen (“My home paper,” he said), Henry Herald, Gwinnett Daily Post, Marietta Daily Journal and the Athens Banner Herald, and he said his latest book covers work from the last decade.
“I realized it had been a while and I’ve picked up a lot of new readers and new papers have picked me up, so a lot of this stuff has not been exposed to a lot of folks,” he said. “I’m excited about it. It’s in themes, so I picked columns for the last 10 years for each of the themes.
“I enjoyed re-reading it and revisiting the columns while I was putting it together – so that’s a good sign, if you like reading your own stuff. That’s not always the case, but for this one it was, so it was fun to do.”
Thirteen chapters break up the 300-plus-page book, which include pieces on Southern culture, places Huckaby has traveled and folks he met along the way, old friends no longer around, and politics.
“You can’t write too much about the South anymore because it’s not politically correct, so I’ve got a whole chapter about Southern institutions,” said Huckaby. “… A lot of readers are touched when I lose my friends and write about them. There are several columns who have ‘Gone Too Soon,’ about people who have passed away before any of us were ready for them to.
“And there’s a section on politics, which is a spectator sport in the Deep South, and in general, so there’s a chapter about major political events of this past decade.”
Huckaby will hold a book signing on Thursday, Dec. 12 at Conyers Pharmacy, his daughter Jamie Huckaby Fairchild’s business, and will sign copies later than day at Cowan Ace Hardware in South Rockdale. Other signings will be scheduled (in plenty of time for the holidays!) and will be shared on his website www.darrellhuckaby.net.
“We’ll be busy leading up to the Christmas season,” he said.
In addition to his weekly columns, Huckaby is always cooking up other writing projects. After writing his first book in 1995, the Georgia Bulldog-centric comic novel “Need Two,” Huckaby spoke of another, more dramatic novel called “Red Clay Sunrise,” that he was working on.
Well, 25 years later and he’s still working on it. And he said he plans to have it in readers’ hands soon.
“I’ve got some time set aside this winter that I’ve got to finish ‘Red Clay Sunrise,’ and I’m not going to do another book until I finish it,” he said. “I promised my son I’d get it finished. And we’ve got some other things on the backburner, including a sequel to ‘Need Two’ and ‘Need Four’ called ‘Need Two More.’ We’ve had enough adventures at the Rose Bowl and the championship game for that one, but I’ve got to finish ‘Red Clay Sunrise’ first.”
While Huckaby said he enjoyed assembling the columns for “Still Southern” and thinks it’s a good read, he was equally enthused about the cover, painted by his friend Charlotte Hill.
“They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but my covers are always a lot better than my books,” he said. “And the cover of this book is something I love because Charlotte Hill painted a portrait of me in a seersucker suit with white bucks standing in front of the (University of Georgia) Arch drinking sweet tea out of a Mason jar. The cover is worth the price of the book – she did such a great job. It just says, ‘Obnoxious Southern gentleman.’”