“When Philip Gerard was writing Cape Fear Rising as an untenured professor in the early ‘90s, he was called in for a meeting with the Chancellor of UNC Wilmington.
“ ‘I walk in and it’s not just the Chancellor,’ Gerard said, ‘it’s every Vice Chancellor and Dean sitting around this conference table. And the Chancellor says, “Now Philip, can you tell them what your book is going to be about?” ‘
“Gerard said he was unaware that many of the descendants of the 1898 conspirators were influential members of the university. ‘I didn’t realize at that point that Mrs. Hugh McRae was the chair of the board of trustees, George Rountree [III] was on the board of trustees, and a number of other families mentioned in the book had close ties in one way or another to the university.’
“Gerard was quick to note that he was not threatened during the meeting, but he was later told that, after he left the room, ‘that there was a spirited discussion and a motion among the board of trustees to not grant me tenure.’ ”