Lynn Seldon wears the ring.
A graduate of Virginia Military Institute, Seldon wrote his first novel, “Virginia’s Ring,” published in 2014, with that school as the setting for his story.
It was the idea of his mentor, the late Pat Conroy, beloved author of Beaufort, who has more than a few titles of note. “The Lords of Discipline” (2002) is Conroy’s tale of cadets at a fictional military institute in Charleston in the 1960s.
Conroy was a graduate of the Citadel, which is in Charleston. He wore the ring.
Seldon said Conroy had mentioned in a conversation that he was “surprised that no one had written about VMI like I did about the Citadel.” That was Seldon’s cue.
As soon as Seldon’s first book was published, he and Conroy immediately started talking about a sequel. “Carolina’s Ring,” set to publish Feb. 15, is that book.
The story features twins Ben and Alf Marshall, who were born on the same day as their next-door neighbor, Carolina Stone, in Travelers Rest, South Carolina.
The trio was inseparable until Carolina chose Alf to explore a romantic relationship as teenagers. The three went off to college, Carolina to UNC-Chapel Hill, Alf to The Citadel on a Marine Corps scholarship, and Ben goes to VMI.
Upon graduation, Alf and Carolina marry and Alf is deployed to Iraq, where he is ultimately killed in battle.
Ben moves to Richmond after graduation and pursues a relationship with Virginia, a fellow cadet from VMI (and the main character from “Virginia’s Ring”).
Later, Ben interprets a letter from his brother suggesting that Ben marry Carolina should anything happen to Alf. Will they circle back to their childhood connection?
Though Seldon’s and Conroy’s stories are entirely different, it makes sense that there are similarities. The circles continue from the rings to the writers’ relationship to the space where the books were created.
After Conroy’s passing in 2016, and as Seldon was preparing to focus on writing “Carolina’s Ring,” his mentor’s widow, Cassandra King, offered him a unique opportunity. She invited him to write his book in Conroy’s Beaufort office.
“Cassandra’s kindness has been amazing,” Seldon said. “This book certainly has Pat’s fingerprints all over it.”
The public is invited to the “Carolina’s Ring Publication Day” pop-in event from 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Pat Conroy Literary Center, 601 Bladen St. in Beaufort.