Tag Archive | California

Growing Up in 1956! by Thomas Conner

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Meet Thomas Conner, known to some as Tom, others as Tommy, and TC by friends and family. Although born in Florida, two miles from the Alabama state line, he spent most of his early years living on the Alabama side and went to college in Florida. 

He graduated from the University of West Florida in Pensacola with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities and since 1980  has resided in Central California’s Big Valley, where he has worked in higher education at a prestigious private university in Student Life.

Tom, welcome to Authos Visits. I am excited to talk to you about this book, Goodby, Saturday Night.

goodnight saturday nightYour book, Goodbye, Saturday Night, is very interesting, and for us who are older brings back a lot of memories.

Tell us a little about the book.

Well it’s early  May 1956 in the small South Alabama town of Farmington, and eleven year old Bobby Crosby’s life is about to change forever. He’s still anguishing over the death of his father even though it’s been five years, and he’s come to despise the life centered around his mother’s cafe, a place that turns into the revelrous hot spot of the community when the sun goes down. Bobby escapes his real world by sitting every night in the local movie theater, third row left down front. There, alone in the dark, he leaves Farmington far behind and melts into the world of the silver screen. Bobby’s best friend is Hucker Nolan, a twenty-two year old drop-out from the swamps across the tracks who drives a taxicab in the daytime and works concession at the movie theater at night. Now, Bobby’s world seems to be collapsing and there’s nothing he can do to stop it; his mother has a boyfriend Bobby desperately resents and his feelings for Hucker are confusing and ever changing, often filled with anger and jealousy Bobby doesn’t understand. Then, the worst thing possible happens to Bobby— he’s betrayed by the person he trusts the most.

Was your book research intensive? Did you find some fun facts?

Yes, definitely. The book is set in 1956 and required a lot of research because I give lots of details in my writing. My character paid 5 cents for a soda. The Western Flyer Super Deluxe bicycle he dreamed of cost $75 and was unobtainable. I also used movie and music references throughout the book, so I had to research the release dates to make sure I wasn’t using titles that hadn’t been released in May of 1956. A good example of this is Saturday night television line-up in 1956. I really wanted one of my characters to be watching Gunsmoke on T.V. when he was called away for an emergency. Well, the show didn’t air at the time I needed him to be watching it, so I had him watch “The Jackie Gleason Show” instead.

Did you find not so fun facts while researching your book?

Yes, and some very disturbing. This book is based very loosely on my childhood growing up in the Deep South. My main character has a close friend who is “colored” but they cannot sit together in the movies. My character lives in a racial bubble, just as I did at the time. When researching racial tension in Alabama in the 1950s and 1960s, I was made aware of much more racially related violence than I had previously known. I knew of the Selma marches of 1965 but I had no idea of the violence and brutality involved until I began my research. It was played down in my area and among my family and friends.

Does coincidence play a role in your book? If so, what was the strangest coincidence experienced and did you use it in your book?

Yes, most definitely. In the past, we have had two Sunday services at my church, St. Anne’s Episcopal. I always attended the 10:00am service. Early last spring our services were combined into one at 9:00am. That offered an opportunity to meet folks from the other service I didn’t know. One Sunday, I struck up a conversation at coffee hour with a woman who had just published her second novel with a small publishing house. I told her about my book, that I was planning on self-publishing because I didn’t want to go through all those hundreds of rejections until I found a house that would take my book. She suggested I submit my work to her publisher. After mulling it over for a few weeks I did and they immediately offered me a publishing contract. My friend and I had been attending the same church for many years without knowing each other or that we were both writers. Now, we are authors with the same publishing house because our church services were combined

What is the story behind the creation your book?

When I read Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show in the mid 1970s, I realized I had a book in me about small town life in Alabama in the 1950s. I met Larry McMurtry at his rare and collectible bookstore, Booked Up, in the Georgetown section of Washington, DC. When I discussed my idea for a book with him he said write it, it will tell a good story. I went home and wrote the first draft. That was in the late fall of 1979. I moved to California a month later and brought the hand-written manuscript with me with the intensions of polishing and rewriting. However, it got pushed back for 35 years.

What do you like most about writing? What do you like least?

Hanging on and following where the characters take me. Some people might say I’m not telling the truth, but my books seem to write themselves. I have a beginning and an idea of an ending and I just start writing. The characters take over and the book comes to life. Sometimes, I am totally amazed that we took the turn in the road we did. Recently, in my new book, one character asked the other where they are going as they climb into the car. I had no idea as I wrote those words. The main character made a choice and the direction they took opened up the plot with a major new twist. I was amazed.

And the least?

I like promoting the book the very least. I wish I could just write and the book would sell itself. That’s not the case. I spend at least fifty percent of my writing time promoting.

Are you working on the next book?

Yes. My work is always based very loosely on something I’ve done or I’ve lived. I just make characters and a story out of it. The first book was based  loosely on my childhood. The new book is based on my first quarter in college in 1965. It’s the story of an 18-year-old freshman who is totally smitten with his single 27-year-old English professor. They become fast friends due to mutual interest and need. Soon, the friendship begins to develop into more. I am obsessed with the story and at the present time have over 52,000 words down.

Tell us how long it took you to write your book.

I wrote the first draft of the first book in three months. I wrote it in longhand because my old typewriter had keys that stuck and I could write faster than type. It was put aside as I said for 35 years. I pulled the old manuscript out and began transcription and rewrite last year. I spent nearly a year on the final book. So, the answer is 37 years in total time and a year and three months of actually writing time.

Whats next for you in writing?

To continue with the new book until it’s ready to send to my publisher. I also plan to pull out some old short stories and see what I can do with them. I spend a tremendous amount of time promoting the book and finding readers.

Thank you for visiting with us today. Can’t wait to hear about your next new book.

 

 

Claire Fullerton-A Woman of Adventure

claire fullerton1download A word I would use to describe Claire Fullerton is adventurous. Although she was born in Minnesota, she moved to Memphis, Tennessee when she was 10.

I heard you consider yourself still a Southerner even though you now live in California.

“Yes, I do consider myself a Southerner, a card-carrying member of the last romantic culture on earth. When I was growing up, Memphis was a hotbed of social and cultural change. In this atmosphere, I embraced popular music, the city that sits on the bluff of the Mississippi is a musical mecca, and I wanted to be in its middle.  I found my niche in radio by being on the air-staff of five radio stations during a nine-year career.  Eventually this led me to Los Angeles where I worked as an artist’s representative securing record deals. After three years I took a trip to Ireland and stayed a year.”

I read you are a people watcher.

“My mother told me as a child, I used to sit and watch people.  I was thirty years old the first time I heard this, and she followed the revelation by telling me, “You still do.” If what is known as “the writer’s eye” is the ability to see the world from the outside in, then I am happily guilty.”

Tell us what opened the door to your writing.

“A happy accident involving a white dove that landed on my roof started my writing career. After a solid week of its residency, I walked into the offices of “The Malibu Surfside News” thinking maybe somebody had lost a pet.  The nice assistant at the desk asked me to take a picture and write a few lines. I decided to do better than that.  When news of the dove was published, the paper’s editor received public response, which she published in the subsequent edition. I felt it my civic duty to report when the dove flew away, so I wrote a piece in the interest of closure, but it opened a door instead. The dove led me to write a weekly column, which led to publication in magazines, awards in writing contests, and repeated appearances in the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series.”

portal in time19780989063227_p0_v1_s192x300Your first published novel, A Portal in Time, tell us the story behind that book.

“My husband and I took a trip to Carmel-by-the-sea on the Monterey Peninsula and stayed in a historic hotel. I tapped my dear husband on the shoulder at 2:00 in the morning to report I couldn’t sleep because the hotel was so haunted. That incident was the beginning A Portal in Time.”

01 SW Cover May 2015 (1)I loved your article you wrote in our May/June Southern Writers Magazine, “Keeping the Faith on the Road to Publication.” Not only was it interesting and helpful for other writers but I know people who don’t write that read it and they enjoyed so much learning about this part of a writers behind the scenes.

DancingtoanIrishReel2 1400x2100[1] Your second book, Dancing to an Irish Reel,  Tell us about your book. I think you captured everything I think of Ireland in this book. A land where family, breezes, tradition and adventure are all rolled in the landscape together.

“One reviewer described it as “A sensitive and lyrical tribute to the Irish culture and the wonders of falling in love.” The story concerns twenty-five year old Hailey Crossan, who takes a sabbatical from her job in the LA record business and travels to the west of Ireland, where she is offered a job too good to turn down. It becomes a year of firsts, where everything is about discovery as Hailey navigates the social nuances and customs of a culture as old as time itself.
Hailey works at The Galway Music Centre, where she is surrounded by a handful of vibrant Irish friends who help her decipher what’s going on when she meets a regionally famous, traditional musician, who is so unbalanced at the prospect of love that he won’t come closer nor completely go away!
The title, “Dancing to an Irish Reel” refers to the push and pull, the ambiguity and uncertainty of attraction with all its hope, fears,  excitement and confusions played out on an Irish stage!

 

“And so begins Hailey’s journey to a colorful land that changes her life, unites her with friends more colorful than the Irish landscape, and gives her a chance at happiness she’s never found before.”

You have a wonderful ability to weave your personal experiences into your stories. Indeed, you are a talented writer.

When your next book is ready to launch, please drop by and tell us about the story.

Thank you for visiting with us today.

 Be sure and visit Claire’s website, http://www.clairefullerton.com/. She would love to hear from you.

Visit her on:  Facebook     https://www.facebook.com/claire.fullerton.79 and  Twitter  https://twitter.com/cfullerton3