After growing up in Kingsport and moving away after high school, Belle will be returning to her hometown later this month to speak at a fundraiser luncheon for the Literacy Council of Kingsport and Friends of Allandale.
“It’s exciting for me to come back and be at an event like this,” Belle said. “It feels super flattering.”
Belle grew up in Colonial Heights and graduated from Sullivan South High School. From there, she packed her bags and headed to Atlanta, where she attended Agnes Scott College.
While living in Atlanta, Belle met her future husband, and the two later moved to the Netherlands, where they lived for several years. They eventually moved back to Atlanta, Belle said, and have remained there ever since.
A second career
Belle said the thought of being a writer was always in the back of her mind, but that dream didn’t immediately become a reality.
“I always had kind of this secret dream to become a writer,” Belle said. “I thought I had a couple stories to tell, but when I first got married, we were young, and I actually got into a totally different job.”
Belle worked in nonprofits for years, until she lost her job during the stock market crash in 2008.
“It just seemed like I could go out and find another job, but I thought maybe this is the universe giving me a sign that it’s time to do this thing that I always wanted to do,” Belle said. “So I just kind of went for it at that point.”
Belle’s first book was published in 2014, after a six-year process. Two more books followed, and her fourth book, “Three Days Missing,” will be released later this month.
“It’s definitely like a second career kind of thing,” Belle said, “but now that I’m doing it and actually writing the next story — as soon as I finish one, I go to the next one — I can’t even imagine doing anything else now.”
Belle will be making a trip to Kingsport for the Literacy Council’s yearly fundraising luncheon on June 26. The event will be held at Allandale Mansion from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and tickets are available now.
In addition to being a fundraiser, Belle said the event will serve as the official launch of her new book, which publishes the same day. The book, which Belle describes as “domestic suspense,” tells the story of a child who goes missing during an overnight school trip.
“It’s a story that could happen to anybody,” Belle said, “and my stories are really about how normal people respond to really non-normal circumstances.”
Sponsors of the luncheon include Ballad Health, Eastman Credit Union, Heritage Title Company, First Community Bank, Morgan Stanley-Bays Mountain Group, Leading Edge Financial Planning, Ron Mathews State Farm, Toyota of Kingsport and Wallace Nissan.
To purchase tickets, visit www.literacycouncilofkingsport.org or call (423) 392-4643. Tickets are $40, which includes lunch and a signed copy of “Three Days Missing.” Lunch-only tickets are also available for $30.
The Literacy Council of Kingsport is partially funded by the United Way of Greater Kingsport.