Morley Swingle has authored thousands of legal documents in the 16 years he's been Cape Girardeau County's prosecuting attorney. But on Saturday afternoon, he signed his name inside the cover of a story he spent nearly two decades drafting.
Swingle signed more than 300 copies of his first novel, "The Gold of Cape Girardeau," at Barnes & Noble on Saturday afternoon. He signed about 200 books Friday night at Southeast Missouri University's museum.
"It's been a terrific day for me," he said. "I was a little worried I might end up like the Maytag repairman on TV, sitting around alone and a bit embarrassed. But I am just ecstatic and honored by the turnout."
He had hoped to publish his work long ago, but like most first-time novelists Swingle received a few rejection letters. He did six full rewrites before achieving publication.
"It started as a 1,378-page manuscript and got whittled down to what is now a 286-page book," he said. "I had known it was a good book all these years I worked on it. I hope everyone loves it as much reading it as I did writing it."
The book opens with a contemporary court case in Cape Girardeau and flashes back into the area's steamboat and Civil War history.
"I wanted to do a Michener-type book to teach the readers about the history of the area," Swingle said. "So I spent from 1981 to 1983 researching the history of Cape Girardeau and the region."
Some people stood in line for an hour Saturday to have copies autographed. Many were Swingle's friends and both current and former co-workers.
"He's one of the best prosecutors and best people I've ever known," said Kenton "Shine" Martin, a former Cape Girardeau police officer. "I've only looked at the first page so far, but knowing Morley, his main character, Allison Culbertson, won the case."
Liz Clements, a staff member at the Cape Girardeau County circuit clerk's office heard about the book from two assistant prosecutors who had read the manuscript.
"They told me about it, and it sounded good," she said. "It's going to be my first personally autographed book by an author."
Swingle will be featured on KRCU's "Going Public" at 3 p.m. today on 90.9 FM. In addition, he will deliver a lecture Nov. 18 on how to research and write historical novels. The event is set for 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the University Center Ballroom.
He will sign books twice more, first at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Bookworm in Carbondale, Ill., where he will discuss the Civil War, and again from 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Book Bug in Sikeston, Mo.
335-6611, extension 160