[Reprinted with Permission from the Raleigh News-Observer]

Novelist Lee Smith became a writer at a fair and tender age because she didn't want her favorite books to end.

Facing the saddest moment in literature -- the last page of a beloved tale -- Smith would take out her pen and continue the adventures of Heidi, The Bobbsey Twins and so many others.

Through all those journeys and feats of derring-do, she recalled, the characters were accompanied "by their new best friend, Lee Smith."

She shared that story with an audience nearly 100 strong Oct. 19 during induction ceremonies for the N.C. Literary Hall of Fame.

Under a Carolina-blue sky filled with birdsong that accompanied the music of their words, Smith, poet James Applewhite and historian William S. Powell were honored for their literary achievements at the Weymouth Center in Southern Pines.

During his brief remarks, Applewhite -- a Duke University professor who has published 12 books of poems, as well as scholarly studies -- said writing has helped him plumb the "cosmic mysteries" of life, death, eternity and the natural world since his childhood in the tobacco farming community of Stantonsburg.

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