It’s rare when people can embark on a career that centers on their passion.
Author Steve Berry has managed to combine his two passions -- writing and history -- into a successful career as a novelist, landing on the New York Times bestseller list for his books based on the character Cotton Malone.
Berry, a graduate of the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University, is back in Macon on Friday and Saturday to help raise money for Historic Macon.
Berry co-founded the History Matters foundation with his wife, Elizabeth, that helps preserve historic buildings across the country.
“(Historic Macon) has been contacting us to do an event with History Matters,” Berry said. “We’ve come to help out. We do events to raise money for historic preservation. You can’t raise a lot at one time, but you can raise $5(,000), $10(,000), $15,000, and a little can go a long way.”
Berry said for one History Matters fundraiser, the organization raised $5,000, which patched a roof of a historic home, thus saving the property from rain damage.
Berry will take part in three major events during his time in Macon. Friday at noon, he’s scheduled to give a lecture to Mercer law students and faculty at the law school. In the early evening, Berry will be featured at the Historic Macon Foundation Gala at the Armory Ballroom. On Saturday, Berry will hold a writers workshop at the Sidney Lanier Cottage that will include a talk by Elizabeth Berry about the publishing industry.
After years of practicing the law, Steve Berry decided to follow the paths of other lawyers-turned-authors such as Scott Turow, John Grisham or John Mortimer.
Berry said it wasn’t easy, since it took him writing eight manuscripts over a 12-year period before catching a break -- after 85 rejections.
“I was tired of practicing law, but I quit writing three times,” Berry said. “That little voice in your head drives you crazy. It kept saying, ‘Get back to work!’ ”
Berry ended up writing books that integrated history into the thrillers he wrote.
Jennifer Mayer, marketing and public relations coordinator for Historic Macon, said Berry was a natural choice to assist in the organization’s fundraising efforts.
“He’s becoming nationally known as a major supporter of historic preservation,” she said. “He has a lot of connections to Macon.”
Mayer noted that Historic Macon has a good number of members interested in literary pursuits, as shown by the success of the organization’s “Sidney Salons,” named in honor of Macon poet Sidney Lanier.
She said Berry’s visit coincides with Historic Macon’s celebration of Lanier’s 170th birthday.
“It’s connecting these two pieces together -- literary arts and historic preservation,” she said.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.