Author Ray McAllister was a columnist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch from 1988 through 2007, and a newspaper reporter for 14 years before that. His only book had been published in 1995, a collection of mostly humor columns entitled Reflections: Objects in Mirror Appear Backwards, But Maybe It’s Me.
But a column he wrote in August 2005 about a small island in North Carolina, and the reader response to it, led to an acclaimed book, Topsail Island: Mayberry By The Sea, in 2006. The book quickly went into six printings and a phenomenon was born.
Another island book, Wrightsville Beach: The Luminous Island, followed in 2007, and a third, Hatteras Island: Keeper of the Outer Banks, in 2009. A fourth book, Ocracoke: The Pearl of the Outer Banks, was published in 2013, then republished in an enlarged, enhanced edition in 2016. All four books were winners of Willie Parker Peace History Book Awards, given annually by the North Carolina Society of Historians, and continue to be popular sellers. “Topsail” and “Wrightsville” were nominated for Library of Virginia Literary Awards, as well. “Hatteras” was a national Reader’s Choice Award winner.
Meanwhile, his coffee table book, The Forum Files: The Stories Behind The Richmond Forum — a book Ray has unofficially subtitled “The Most Interesting People in the World” — was published in 2015. An enhanced edition of Wrightsville Beach: The Luminous Island was published for that book’s 10th anniversary edition in 2017.
Ray first gave up the day job in late 2007 to write books, then also took an offer to become editor of Boomer magazine the following spring. In 2016, he finally switched to books for good. In addition to writing them, he now occasionally publishes them through Beach Glass Books, as well, including Portsmouth: The Way It Was by Ellen Fulcher Cloud and Flights of Fancy: Stories, Conversations and Life Travels with a Bemused Columnist and His Whimsical Wife by Randy and Barbara Fitzgerald in 2017. Ray and his wife Vicki, the coastal books’ photographer, live in Richmond, VA, and have a home in Surf City, NC. He currently is at work on other coastal books expected to come out within the next few years.