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UNC alumnus to debut first book at Fleet Feet Sports' Carrboro location

On any other day, Michael Jones would be a customer walking into Fleet Feet Sports' store in Carrboro.  But tonight, he will be walking in as a published author launching his first book. 

Michael Jones is a UNC alumnus who graduated with highest honors in English in 2003. What began as a 100-page senior thesis later transformed into “After the Race,” a character-driven novel that revolves around the relationship between family.

“In general, it’s an exploration of the dynamic between the father and the son — more broadly the relationship between the father and the son and the people around them,” Jones said.

“So, I think a lot of it is about the lengths that people go to sometimes to find happiness and love — those sorts of things and what happens when they don’t get that.” 

Jones also said that while the book itself is not about running, a passion for sport plays a big part in the story, which is why he chose the local running and fitness store as the venue for the launch. 

“I know the guys over at Fleet Feet, and it’s different. You know I’m still going to be doing readings at the local bookstores and that kind of thing, but it was an opportunity to reach out to people who maybe don’t come out to bookstores,” Jones said.

Fleet Feet co-owner Brian White said he thought it would be fun to host Jones, with whom he is personally acquainted. White said Jones has organized a local race in Carrboro and is a customer of the store. 

“For us, we always try to be more than just a shoe store. You can get shoes anywhere. Here we try to be more of a community resource,” White said.

Ruth Moose, a former professor of creative writing at UNC, knows Jones from a writing group they were in together before “After the Race” was published. Moose said she heard much of the story beforehand from an informal workshop they attended on Saturdays. Jones would bring in copies for everyone in the workshop chapter by chapter and was active in local writing groups.

Being in the same writing group as Jones allowed Moose to see the evolution of Jones’ story, noting that the opening chapter now is not the original that was presented in the workshops.

“It’s exciting because you had to slowly get to know the characters, and you keep wanting to know more,” Moose said.

“Mike is a strong writer, and he’s fearless. He will take a scene places where other writers would flinch or back off.” 

Jones said the progression from project to published work has been nothing but affirming and positive for himself and his writing. 

“I do hope people are entertained, and I do hope it’s something that people enjoy reading and think it’s well written,” Jones said. “Having that external validation makes it all the more rewarding.” 

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