The Art of Being Local

By Beth P. Storie | Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Realtors talk about location, location, location, but with booksellers it’s local, local, local! The owners of our independent Outer Banks bookstores all say that books written by locals or set on these shores are some of their biggest sellers, both fiction and nonfiction. 

Bookstore owners explain that local books are their bread and butter, and being able to have a new crop of them every year is a lifeline. Plus, with local writers, the shops are more likely to have a good supply of signed copies, which is very appealing to buyers. There’s also more possibility for a personal connection with books written by locals since book-signings and other promotional events are easy to schedule.

Local writers are plentiful on these barrier islands. Just in the last year or so, a gracious gathering of them have published books. Many of these writers have a series of books set on the Outer Banks going back for years, and notable others have written famous novels set here, including nationally touted authors such as David Poyer, David Payne and Nicholas Sparks. Recently published stars include Joseph Terrell, The Serpentine Flower; Mary Ellen Riddle, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (Images of America); Audra Krieg, The Parker House; Kelley Grider and Brandi McMahan, Sebi the Colt; Joe Ellis, The Singer in the Sound; Suzanne Tate, Logs & Moonshine; and Dyanne Kelley, Soulfire Woman.

Two other writers have received exceptional attention lately with the books they’ve written with an Outer Banks setting. Heather Frese’s The Baddest Girl on the Planet is quickly rising up the charts, and local writer Angel Ellis Khoury has hit the bullseye with her first novel, Between Tides, which will hit the store shelves in August.

We thought it would be interesting to ask these two wordsmiths what Outer Banks-centric books they found worthy to suggest.

Here are two that are on Angel’s bookshelf and why.

Corolla and the Currituck Outer Banks by R. Wayne Gray and Nancy Beach Gray (out in early August)

Nancy Gray has finished what she and her late husband, Wayne, started: another well-researched glimpse into local history. I celebrate their partnership and their love for this area and its culture. Their latest book takes you to the heart of Corolla in vintage photographs accompanied by insightful writing.  

The Lost Colony Murder on the Outer Banks by John Railey

John Railey combines his journalistic eye, his passion for justice and his intimate knowledge of the Outer Banks and its people to present a compelling case for who might have committed a murder that had everyone talking then – and now – thanks to his thorough research and talent for storytelling. 

And here are Heather’s favorites.

I read Taffy of Torpedo Junction by Nell Wise Wechter as a kid and loved the Hatteras setting and history so much that I turned the last page and immediately began reading it again. Taffy lives by the ocean, rescues a dog, rides a pony, goes barefoot, plays in the sound with her friends and outsmarts Nazis. It’s classic.

Hoi Toide on the Outer Banks: The Story of the Ocracoke Brogue is linguist Walt Wolfrom’s dive into the dialect and culture of Ocracoke Island. While scholarly in scope, this book is also a fascinating and entertaining look at the way language evolves in isolated areas. 

Michele Young-Stone’s The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors follows protagonists Becca and Buckley through their (lightning-struck) lives in Texas and inland North Carolina in this dual narrative, but the book culminates on the beaches of a perfectly rendered Nags Head.

Visit your local booksellers! They can open an imaginary or actual world of Outer Banks wonder for you to experience page by page.

Deepwater Pottery & Books To Be Red

(252) 928-3936 | 34 School Road, Ocracoke |

Duck’s Cottage & Downtown Books

Duck’s Cottage in Duck: (252) 261-5510 | Downtown Books in Manteo: (252) 473-1056 |

Island Bookstore

Corolla: (252) 453-2292 | Duck: (252) 261-8981 | Kitty Hawk: (252) 255-5590 |

Buxton Village Books

(252) 995-4240 | 47918 N.C. Highway 12 | Buxton |


About the Author Beth P. Storie
Beth Storie first came to the Outer Banks for the summer of 1976. She fell in love with the area and returned for good three years later. She and her husband published the national guidebook series, The Insiders' Guides, for more than 20 years and now are building OneBoat guides into another national brand. After spending time in many dozens of cities around the country, she absolutely believes that her hometown of Manteo is the best place on earth, especially when her two children, six cats and one dog are there too.