June 1st, 2009
Ask Ann Ipock how she started in the writing game, and you’ll likely get two answers.
“Every other occupation I had was dangerous,” she said. “I was a dental hygienist, and I got the mayor’s mustache caught in the little brush. I wanted to be a chef but my stove exploded. I was a wedding planner, and I’m still not sure if some of my couples are legally married.”
The other version is a little less colorful. Ipock, a Jacksonville, N.C., native, was living in the Myrtle Beach, S.C., area in 1991 when she was laid off of a sales job with a telecom company. She joined a writers’ group through Coastal Carolina University, and the group soon spun off on its own.
“We had novelists and poets,” Ipock said, “but humor is what I kept coming back to.”
Eventually, in 1998, she sold a package of her pieces to the Georgetown (S.C.) Times, and has been its regular humor columnist ever since.
“It’s South Carolina’s oldest newspaper – I’m very proud of that,” she said, “and I’m probably their oldest living writer.”
Ipock began publishing in other magazines, too, including Pee Dee (”It was kind of like South Carolina’s answer to Our State”) and Sasee out of Myrtle Beach.
Soon, the columns began to find their way into book form: “What Was It I Was Saying?” (now out of print) and “Life is Short, But It’s Wide,” which came out in 2003, followed by “Life Is Short, So Read This Fast” in 2006.
The original “Life is Short” book was supposed to come out through Wilmington’s Coastal Carolina Press, but the little publishing house went belly-up soon after editor Emily Colin finished working on the manuscript. Thus, Ipock began publishing herself under her “Goody 2 Shoes Publishing” Imprint.
Ipock and her husband Russell – a church business manager who’s sometimes called “Oscar the Grouch” in his wife’s copy – relocated from Pawleys Island to Wilmington early in 2007. And that’s how she wound up as the June guest for “Prologue,” the monthly book club co-sponsored by the Star-News and public radio station WHQR.
Ipock will be chatting with readers beginning at 7 p.m. Monday in the WHQR gallery, upstairs at 254 N. front St. It’s not necessary to read her books in advance, although copies will be on sale at Pomegranate Books, Barnes & Noble, Two Sisters Bookery and other locations, as well as at the book club meeting. (Fans can also sample her work at www.annipock.com.)
Admission is free, and refreshments will be served.
A self-described community theater buff – who once did a one-woman show based on her columns – Ipock has occasionally appeared with fellow local humor columnist Celia Rivenbark: “I wish I was as quick-witted as Celia is,” she said.
In the meantime, she finds herself with no shortage of material, from exploding kitchens to discovering that, all of a sudden, she qualifies for the “Senior Citizens” discount.
“My latest one is about bra-fitting, which I don’t usually get into,” Ipock said. “I don’t like to think of myself as prudish but -”
Ben Steelman, feature writer and book columnist for StarNews, Wilmington, NC