Author Interview with Sumner Wilson

Today we welcome Sumner Wilson.

Book ‘Em:  Tell us about you and your life outside of writing.

Sumner Wilson:  I’m a retired railroad switchman/brakeman. I started writing in motel rooms on layovers to pass time until I got out, called out on homebound trips. I retired and had plenty of free time, so I continued writing. Now I’m addicted.

Book ‘Em:  Which books have you written? What are they about and why did you choose to write them? Do your books have a message? Are they fiction or nonfiction?

Sumner Wilson:  I have three published books all fiction. The first I self-published through CreateSpace was titled The Hellbringer. This is a western about a man working hard to find and rescue his girlfriend who was kidnapped. The third book is A House of Men, published by Five Star. This is a western about two men—cousins and a feud they haven’t settled since they were children. Lucia St. Clair Robson blurbed the book for me and says it is: “One comprising tale of festering animosity between two implacable men.

This one is brutal. Not for the weak-of-heart. My writing goal is to bring entertainment to the reader at least entertainment is what I strive for, I have no messages to mess with. People wanting a message should go to the telegraph office and wait there until one arrives.

The second book is Billy in the Lowground. I borrowed the title of this one from an old fiddle tune of the same name. It’s YA book (Grownups have little trouble reading it though. Really not that complicated.)This book is about a thirteen-year-old boy growing up on the river with his mother’s brother, and all the adventures and misadventures he has on his last summer of childhood. Pen-L published this book.

Book ‘Em:  Do you have a work in progress?

Sumner Wilson:  Yes. Several books in fact, few of them titled yet.

Book ‘Em:  What was the most difficult section/piece you ever wrote? What made it difficult?

Sumner Wilson:  I enjoy writing so much that so far I’ve never encountered writing difficulties other than punctuation problems.

Book ‘Em:  What sort of research do you do for your work?

Sumner Wilson:  I use the local library as well as the internet. You can locate nearly all the information needed online these days. I wish it had been around when I started writing.

Book ‘Em:  Which books and authors do you read for pleasure? Is there an author that inspires you?

Sumner Wilson:  I read in nearly every genre, Sci-Fi, Westerns, Detective. Horror. You name it. I enjoy James Lee Burke. Dusty Richards and a few of the older western writers as well. I also read Luke Short and Ernest Haycock. James Lee Burke is great, although he often gets carried away by sunsets. But I enjoy all his books. Dusty is a good writer too. I read his books.

Book ‘Em:  Was there a person who encouraged you to write?

Sumner Wilson:  My grandpap was a wonderful oral storyteller. I loved to listen to his tales about his younger days. As a youngster, I would rather listen to his tales as to go to the movies or read a book. His example was the only encouragement I ever received from anyone about writing. Where I lived, writing was considered an activity for the well-off and educated class.

Book ‘Em:  What would you say are your strengths as an author?

Sumner Wilson:  The ability to sit down and start up from where I left off the day before without missing a beat. I once read the words of a famous writer that I felt were pretty stern in warning to never discuss the novel you were working on. He said the writing process comes from your subconscious, and once you’ve emptied the reservoir that’s all you’ll get from it at that moment. The subconscious wants to rid itself of the story and doesn’t care if you talk it out or write it out as long as you get rid of it. I try never to discuss any details of a book I’m working on. In fact, I have trouble saying much at all about my writing. It was a good long while before I thought of myself as a writer.

Book ‘Em:  How often do you write, and do you write using a strict routine?

Sumner Wilson:  Usually everyday unless I go someplace. I used to write in motel rooms, so I grew accustomed to writing wherever I happened to be and need nothing but paper and pencil, nowadays computer. MS Word is a great help to writers.

Book ‘Em:  Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?

Sumner Wilson:  To still be writing, but at my age, I’ll be happy just to be breathing yet.

Book ‘Em:  If you could offer one piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?

Sumner Wilson:  Write.

Book ‘Em:  What would you consider the best compliment a reader could give your book?

Sumner Wilson:  A lady recently wrote me and said she thoroughly enjoyed my books. That swelled my head a bit.

Book ‘Em:  Provide an excerpt of your writing that you would like to share with our members.           

Sumner Wilson:

“Tasty water,” I said. Calvin took the jug from me and handed it to his sister who put it away. I ain’t never seen a feller go so long without water, bub,” Mr. McKenzie said.

“Waited on me?” I blurted. This was it then, I had to admit the truth. “But sir, I was just waiting on you to drink. I nearly died of thirst myself.”

“Mom always tell me to watch my manners, sir,” I hurried to explain.

“That was the reason. I just was waiting on you to drink first.”

“You near killed us all’s what you did,” he told me.

“I suspect I’ll have to keep my eyes on you from here on out.”

He yanked his faded, worn hat down over his wide brow, turned and strode toward the barn. As he walked off, the old ogre spoke over a shoulder, “Iona, unhitch them mules, lead them old fellers down to the creek for a drink. Now,” he continued, “that we’ve wetted or whistles I reckon it’s time to toss this hay in the loft.”

I passed Iona. She smiled sweetly at me and said, “Mom made us a peach cobbler for dinner dessert, Scotlin.”

He then scurried on up the ladder and stood in the doorway up there, flexing his great muscles, showing off. Cal and I stepped toward the loaded wagon to pitch up the hay for the old man to drag deeper into the loft.

I shifted on my feet under the dark burn of that fierce old man’s steady gaze.

Mr. McKenzie’s eyes flashed and jiggled a wild dance in their sockets. He opened his mouth to speak, changed his mind, and continued to stare at me until my knees nearly folded beneath me.

“You bet. I durn near perished from lack of water. Are you right sure you ain’t part camel, son?”

Now right then if I’d wanted to be a complete cheat as well as a charlatan, I could have kept my mouth shut, but the truth was I allowed I was already ahead of the pack, and so I smiled an innocent smile and gave in.

“Nothin’ better’n good well water, bub,” Mr. McKenzie told me, but I knew that already.

This scene is from Billy in the Lowground, at the barn where my protagonist, Scotlin Bright, is helping his friend Calvin McKenzie and his pap put up hay. All day long, the three of them suffer from the heat, but no one wants to be the first to drink water, until at last, Mr. McKenzie calls out for the water jug from off the wagon seat. His daughter Iona fetches it and the old man drinks his fill and then Calvin does the same and passes it to Scotlin.:

All my books can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble. You can buy Billy in the Lowground at Pen-L publishing if you prefer.


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