Booksellers Rock! Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore

Name: Kelly Justice

Bookstore: Fountain Bookstore

Title: Boss Lady

Brief Bio: Kelly bought The Fountain in January 2008 after managing it since 2000 and she has been a professional independent bookseller since 1989.

What books recently rocked my world: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami: trippy. Oh, and The Casserole Queens Cookbook. I wore a little apron around the store for weeks in celebration of its publication.

Best damn event(s) we’ve hosted: Having Alton Brown sign a kid’s day-old appendectomy scar was pretty special. Listening to Tom Wolfe rap explicit, fake hip-hop lyrics in the church where Robert E. Lee worshiped was surreal.

I have to say my favorite events are with the first time authors. I think they are some of the most exceptional events we do.

Bringing an author into the Fountain Family is an experience many never forget, but most eventually call off the lawyers and we have a good laugh about it.

Most entertaining author(s) we’ve hosted: Recently, Simon VanBooy (Everything Beautiful Began After) left our audience charmed to the point of speechlessness. Jonathan Miles (Dear American Airlines) and Michael Knight (The Typist) are both wickedly funny men and rather dangerous when together. We all have a weak spot for Robert Goolrick (A Reliable Wife) because he is such a warm presenter and we love his books. And, of course, Maggie Stiefvater (The Scorpio Races/Shiver) not only makes customers in the store ecstatic, we ship her books all over the world to happy, happy people who love werewolves and kissing. She is always fun to have in the shop just to hang out.

Strangest question a customer has ever asked:  I get asked at least 5 times a year if we sell choir robes. What’s up with that?!?

Why our store kicks ass:  Anyone who says we don’t kick ass we lock in the bookstore basement until they say we do.

I promise you won’t find this at any other store:  A basement full of bodies.

Why I do what I do:  People think booksellers are booksellers because they love books, and some are. I love books, but I love people who love books more. I’m a bookseller because the written word is my favorite way to connect with others.

If I weren’t selling books I’d be:  A state extension agent specializing in beef cattle nutrition. No, really.

Books that changed my life:  1984—It’s not a perfect book, but I’ve read it at least ten times because it reminds me what it means to be human.

Susie Bright’s first three books—she redefined girl power (well, really woman power) for me and showed me that there is more than one way to be a feminist.

Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman—I reread from it all the time because it reminds me to live in the moment and appreciate the gift of the body.

Andrew Vachss’ Burke series taught me the real definitions of the words “friend” and “family.”

Harlan Ellison’s short fiction I go back to more than any other works, and I don’t understand why more people don’t read him. For a treat, (if you don’t have delicate sensibilities), check out the documentary on his life, Dreams with Sharp Teeth.

Top three authors, living or dead, I’d invite to my dinner party: Oscar Wilde, Anthony Bourdain, and Julia Child. If you can’t have a good time at that party, there’s something seriously wrong with you.

Top three songs on the soundtrack to my life: Can we go back to the book questions again?

My last meal request: I want to cook it myself. And to do that, I have to have my fantasy kitchen. Construction could take quite a long time. I’m registered at Vulcan Ranges, SubZero, Kohler, Mauviel, and Le Creuset. When you’re done shopping for me, let me know.

15 Comments On This Post:

February 6, 2012
10:48 am
Stacie Michelle Williams says...

Yes, Michael Knight IS wickedly funny and Robert Goolrick is an incredibly warm human being and damn fine writer!

Also, I love that the main themes running through your answers and book selections are cooking and toughness. That’s fabulous.

February 6, 2012
11:37 am
bermudaonion (Kathy) says...

Kelly really does rock! I’m sure I’d spend a fortune in her store if I lived in Richmond.

February 6, 2012
12:19 pm
karenzach says...

Fountain Bookstore is one of my favorites and Kelly is one of my favorite booksellers. She does indeed kick a.

February 6, 2012
12:31 pm
Nancy Naigle says...

I loved this interview. I have to agree … the Fountain Bookstore and Kelly Justice both rock!
Hugs and happy reading~
Nancy Naigle
Love stories from the crossroad of small town and suspense.

February 6, 2012
1:00 pm
Melissa Gay says...

Maybe Kelly could expand her retail line and sell choir robes or books about choir robes. Seems to be a demand for them. Terrific shop.

February 6, 2012
1:31 pm
Gigi says...

What a great interview with Kelly. Fountain totally does rock! When I was Christmas shopping there once, one of those adorable Lee Brothers just happened to also be in the store. Everybody got cookbooks that year.

February 6, 2012
2:03 pm
Lenore Gay says...

Great interview! I remember Kelly from the olden days when she sold books in Cary Town. She carries her humor wherever she goes.
I’ve been in her store a few times when she wasn’t there. Maybe next time I’ll get lucky.

February 6, 2012
7:38 pm
Virginia Pye says...

Don’t for a minute be fooled by how wickedly funny Kelly can be: she’s also deeply knowledgable about books and publishing. We’re so lucky to have her and her store here in Richmond! Visit The Fountain and ask Kelly just about anything. She’ll know the answer.

February 6, 2012
10:12 pm
Katharine says...

All the booksellers at Fountain rock! (Kelly finally let me out of the basement, so I tell everyone this now.)

February 7, 2012
6:36 am
Margaret Lerke Woody says...

Alright, Kelly Justice! I am so happy for you getting this recognition! You actually READ the books you sell! I have respected you for that, ever since we met in Carytown, when I was new to Richmond, VA!

February 7, 2012
10:26 am
Joe says...

Great interview! So are you married or seeing anybody?!

February 7, 2012
11:37 am
Marcia Burrows (Webmistress for Elizabeth Sims) says...

Wow! Next time we’re in Richmond…

February 7, 2012
5:44 pm
Catherine Ibarra says...

Kelly, it is so nice to see an interview like this, long overdue. You look fabulous in your photo as well. All the speedbumps to get here were worth it, any store you work in becomes unique, because you love what you do AND know so much about books, authors, and readers. Warm Congratulations!

February 10, 2012
2:33 am
Victoria Irwin says...

Awesome! Makes me wish I still lived in Rockville, VA, so I could come visit her store more often. I’ve met Kelly at a couple ABA events and have always had my socks knocked off by her down-to-earth, straight forward and ingenious approach to bookselling.

February 13, 2012
7:02 pm
Susie Bright says...

When do I get to come meet you at your bookstore? What an honor!

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