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February 3, 2014

Local author sets book in hometown

THOMASVILLE — A Thomasville native has returned to her hometown in more ways than one. She has written a book set here more than 100 years ago.

Valdosta’s Michelle Akins, a freelance author, businesswoman and community leader with a vivid imagination, said her book, Season of Deceit, was influenced by Thomasville’s history. She grew up here with her parents and two older brothers.

“I’ve lived in the South my entire life and loved writing, so I knew as I began writing this book that the setting would be no issue as to where it would be located,” said Akins, set to conduct a book signing at The Gift Shop on Saturday at 11 a.m.

Akins’ book, Season of Deceit, is a historical romance set in 1885. The story revolves around a noted New York City architect who has returned to Thomasville with two goals — to build the grandest hotel of his career and to take down a man held responsible for the death of his parents and the loss of his birthright.

Murder, intrigue and desire alternately pull the hero and his heroine together and apart through a combination of misunderstandings, jealousy and secrets. The author sprinkled bits and pieces of Thomasville into the book.

Akins’ mother was from Thomasville, but her father’s family was from out of town. She remembered her father’s side of the family begging to visit Thomasville so they could see all of the historic homes and buildings.

Even though she had lived in Thomasville all of her life at this point, she went around with the family looking at the houses. Akins remembered one experience she had at the Thomas County Historical Society housed in the Lapham-Patterson House.

She said, “We had gone to the Historical Museum and they had a display of some of the salvage they had retrieved from the Piney Woods Hotel before it burned. It was just really amazing to see a town preserving its history.”

Growing up in a small, historic town, she assumed all town’s had a rich, preserved history. She found out differently when she moved away after graduating from Thomasville High School in 1987.

When Akins was 18, left to go to college in Valdosta. She attended Valdosta State University and received a Bachelors degree in Political Science with a minor in Criminal Justice in 1993 and a Masters degree in Sociology with a concentration in Cultural Anthropology in 1995.

She relocated to Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., but returned to Valdosta to marry Brooks Akins and raise a family.

It was nearly 15 years ago that the idea for the book began and she wrote the first 50 pages. With a demanding academic schedule and beginning a family, she forgot about the pages until she rediscovered them after many years.

Akins said, “I just found them one day and sat down and finished it in about six months. I already knew how the book ended, so I finished it.”

Akins will donate the profit from each copy sold at Saturday’s book signing to “The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation” and “The R. Wayne “Bubba” Alexander, Jr. Scholarship Fund.”

For more information on Michelle Akins and her work, visit www.michelleakins.com.

Reporter Susanne Reynolds can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1826.

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