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Fallen From Grace (March 2011), Wild Oak
Being Someone Else (July 2010), Whiskey Creek Press
Do you have a role model?
I don’t know about a specific role model but I’ve been inspired by many other writers. Some I’ve met in person. Others I only know through their work.
One I knew and who inspired me at a time when I most needed it was Richard Wheeler. No, not Richard S. Wheeler, writer of westerns, mysteries and other books. He’s an inspiration, too, though we’ve never met.
The Richard Wheeler I’m talking about was a fellow Pennsylvanian best known as the author of a series of authoritative military histories.
I met Dick in 1984 when I was a reporter and was assigned to interview him on publication of his tenth book, “A Special Valor,” a history of the Marine Corps in World War II. He knew his subject. He served with the corps and was wounded on Iwo Jima .
At the time we met, I was a single parent, working a full-time job and struggling to get my own writing published. Dick’s career was a prime example to keep me trying.
Some 30 years earlier, Wheeler had quit a paying job, built a one-room cabin in the woods and set out to become a writer. As I wrote in the article following our conversation:
“Without the advantages of money, college degrees or connections, he struggled to learn his craft. He knew no other writers, no magazine editors, no agents, no one at all connected with the field. Alone, sustained only by his vision and the faith of his mother and sister, he gleaned knowledge from books and magazines and worked at applying it to his task.
“But, he knew, just as one can only learn to drive a car by getting behind the wheel, one can not learn to write from a book. Daily, filling blank sheets with words, words, words—the only way a writer truly learns to write—he pursued his goal.
“And, ultimately, his perseverance was rewarded.”
It didn’t come easy. His only income at the time was $50 a month, government compensation for the wounds incurred on Iwo Jima, and increments he earned for an occasional article or light verse accepted by a small magazine or newspaper. Like most of us, he suffered many rejections. His first book was accepted on its 18th trip to market. His eventual output included more than a dozen books on wars from the American Revolution to World War II, a collection of his verse and even one on pirates.
Wheeler was in his forties when his first book was published. He was philosophical about his late start in his career. “Late bloomers are accustomed to hard knocks. Early success can make a person (particularly a writer) optimistic to the point he is unprepared for the setbacks that, sooner or later, will come. I know of writers who enjoyed great success with early works who were unable to handle rejection when it came; they faltered and quit. The late bloomer has a better chance of hanging on.”
A writer Dick knew well was the Pennsylvania novelist Conrad Richter. The two men became friends, though Wheeler stressed their relationship was social and not influential. Their goals in writing were different.
Dick died in 2008. He never became rich or famous (I don’t think he cared to). He lived his life doing what he most wanted. Many of his books remain in print and still attract readers. I’d call that success.
He seemed to like the article I wrote and offered advice, much of which I’ve followed. I don’t mean to infer we became best buddies. Our contact afterwards was sporadic. But he has remained an example to me and I treasure the memory of the conversations we did have.
Two of the virtues he passed on to all who aspire to write were to have faith in yourself and persevere.
I read a little of everything. I’m seldom without a book of some kind. My favorites would be mysteries and historical fiction.
I relish a good mystery novel too. Would you consider yourself a true romantic at heart?
I believe I am a romantic in the same sense that Poe, Blake, Beethoven and Turner were romantics, inspired by all that’s beautiful and mysterious and inspiring in life.
Where is the most exotic place you've ever visited?
South Korea . I’ve paraphrased Melville elsewhere to say the Army was my Harvard and Korea my Yale.
As the 19th century winds to a close, Sheriff Sylvester Tilghman of the small Pennsylvania town of Arahpot ponders his biggest problems: finding a new deputy and convincing his true love, Lydia, to marry him. But an early autumn day finds Arahpot’s usual tranquility shaken when a stranger is fatally stabbed. Upon seeing the victim, Tilghman recalls witnessing a strained encounter between him and Valentine Deibert, an obese man with a wife half his age who had recently moved to Arahpot. The sheriff questions Deibert who denies knowing the victim. Tilghman is unconvinced, but lacks a connection until the widow arrives in Arahpot. Suddenly Sylvester is plunged into investigating two murders. As he works through an abundance of motivated suspects, Tilghman finds himself in danger. And worse -- Lydia is pushing her obnoxious cousin as a candidate for deputy.
Sounds like a book I'd put on my TBR pile.Thank you for sharing. Where can readers find your book online?
Purchase Link for Fallen From Grace
Thank you so much for guesting today and sharing about role models. I enjoyed speaking with you and learning more about you and your book.
If you would like to enter for a chance to win a print copy of Fallen From Grace, please comment on this blog posting. Hope you stay and chat for a bit.