by Mary Stuart Sanderson
Celia Rivenbark crossed her petite legs Indian-style while sitting on top of a table in the heart of the Barnes and Noble in Jacksonville, N.C. Her relaxed persona swept through the audience and put everyone at ease. Her Southern drawl was thicker than molasses and her blonde hair was on the platinum end of the spectrum.
Her most recent work, “You Don’t Sweat Much for a Fat Girl: Observations on Life from the Shallow End of the Pool,” was on its final stop of the book tour.
As Rivenbark stated, “It’s the end of the line for the Fat Girl.”
The book is Rivenbark’s first publication to make the New York Times Best Seller list, but she is already well known for the Southern twist that she infuses into each and every one of her humorous novels.
Her first publication, “Bless Your Heart, Tramp,” was sold out of the back of a car in a church parking lot after worship services. That book, published in 2000, was a collection of Rivenbark’s humor column pieces from the Sun News of Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Her second book, “We’re Just Like You, Only Prettier,” has been four times as successful as all the others she has written. Some may be familiar with this title if they follow the country music genre.
Rivenbark jokes that she wrote the book first and then, “Miranda Lambert stole my title.”
Her third publication, “Stop Dressing Your 6-Year-Old Like a Skank,” got its inspiration from a concept that Rivenbark simply cannot fathom. She can’t seem to grasp why mothers elect to dress their young girls in “prosti-tot” clothes.
Rivenbark stated, “My definition of skank is a slut with better shoes.”
Her fourth book, “Belle Weather: Mostly Sunny With a Chance of Scattered Hissy Fits,” was Rivenbark’s favorite to write.
“I probably enjoyed writing ‘Belle Weather’ the most because of the home-improvement first third of the book,” claims Rivenbark. “It gave me a chance to look at the wretched demo and remodel of an 80-year-old kitchen with humor. And I got to write about some real characters who made that remodel happen.”
Her fifth book, “You Can’t Drink All Day if You Don’t Start in the Morning,” got its title and inspiration from a printed t-shirt she first saw at Myrtle Beach and thought would make a great book title.
One of Rivenbark’s fans had the same take on the title. Barbara Bullington, a communications instructor at East Carolina University, stated that: “I’ve read all of her books except for ‘You Don’t Sweat Much for a Fat Girl.’ And that’s on my list to read as soon as I have time. Each one has made me laugh out loud so it’s hard to pick a favorite. I’d say my favorite title is, ‘You Can’t Drink All Day If You Don’t Start in the Morning.”
Rivenbark’s sixth and most recent book, “You Don’t Sweat Much for a Fat Girl: Observations on Life from the Shallow End of the Pool,” got its title from a scene of the Andy Griffith Show. Rivenbark has a way of pulling inspiration from anything that surrounds her…even Goober Pyle.
When asked where she gets the majority of her inspiration from, Rivenbark stated, “Pop culture, my crazy relatives and Jon Stewart.”
Pop culture is used throughout her latest publication–from Snuggies to ShamWow’s to the Food Network series “Down Home with the Neelys.” She even gave away a camouflage Snuggie as a door prize at the book signing (fitting because Jacksonville is home to the Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune).
Rivenbark and husband, Scott, live in Wilmington, N.C., with their daughter Sophie. Rivenbark was raised in a small town in Duplin County, N.C.
Rivenbark’s southern appeal and blunt writing style might best be expressed in her definition of a small town, which she defines as, “Two stores, two whores, and a cotton gin. What else do you need?”
Fans of Rivenbark are anxious to see what her next publications will have in store. Bullington stated, “I look forward to anything she writes. It would probably be interesting to read more about her experiences as a mom as her daughter grows up. I also like her takes on celebrities.”
As a preview to her future publications, Rivenbark exposed a few tricks she has up her sleeve.
“My next book will be the first one I’ve done that has a single theme rather than being a collection of humorous essays about diverse topics,” said Rivenbark. “The theme is etiquette for the modern-day. It should be out in Spring 2013 but pubs (publicists) change dates all the time. ‘Fat Girl’ was supposed to come out in May but got bumped. They have their reasons, I guess.”