Harlan native Richard G. “Dick” Edwards is, among other things, a prolific author who has penned a series of five novels, The Anchor Cross series, which are set in large part in Harlan County.
Edwards, born in 1940, is a 1958 graduate of Harlan High School. He didn’t begin his career as a novelist until he’d already had a career in engineering.
“My background is engineering, I spent most of my life as an engineer at the University of Kentucky,” Edwards said. “About four years or so ago, I ran into a fellow named Bill Looney who also is a graduate from Harlan High School. He was retired and living at that time in Ocala, Florida…my wife and I go down to Florida for the winter months. I’ve always said there’s only two things wrong with Lexington, January and February.”
Edwards said he had read one of Looney’s books, and arranged a meeting with him.
“We met up for lunch, and subsequently became very good friends,” Edwards said. “Bill kept after me, saying ‘you need to start writing books. You won’t make any money with them, but they’re a lot of fun to do.”
Edwards said he finally gave in and tried his hand at writing.
“He was right. You don’t make any money at it, but it is a whole heck of a lot of fun,” Edwards joked. “I’ve enjoyed it greatly. I’ve written five books now in what I call The Anchor Cross series. They’re all based in Harlan.”
Edwards pointed out his books are full of Harlan characters, nicknames and locations.
“I wanted each of the books to reflect my mountain heritage,” Edwards said. “And also to have these mountain stories.”
One of the recurring characters is a fictional Harlan County sheriff named J. Bert Sterling.
“I get a lot of my names from my friends and associates,” Edwards explained. “J. Bert Sterling I got from my best friend here in Harlan, Jack Sterling, and also my father, J.B. Edwards. His middle name was Bert.”
J. Bert Sterling appears in all five books in the series.
“The sheriff’s office plays an important part in the books,” Edwards said. “There is a mascot in the (fictional) sheriff’s office called Preacher Puss. Preacher Puss is a very unusual cat that has particular talents in subduing crooks. In order to fully understand and appreciate Preacher Puss, you’d really have to read the books.”
Edwards explained The Anchor Cross Series consists of five novels. The central theme of each book revolves around one or more of six golden anchor crosses that were cast by Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. These crosses start to be discovered around the world, with the first being found in Harlan County by a child walking in the woods. Various attempts to steal the crosses are made throughout the books, which also contain a plethora of humorous mountain stories and characters.
In addition to being a Harlan High School graduate, Edwards earned undergraduate, masters and doctorate degrees in mechanical engineering. He retired from the University of Kentucky College of Engineering, and has been married to his wife, Carolyn, for over 50 years. As well as being an author, he spends much of his time sailing and traveling. He resides in Lexington.
The Anchor Cross Series books may be purchased locally at Jewelcraft in Harlan for $15 each, or from Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com for $17.99 each plus shipping and handling, or from the author for $15 each including shipping and handling through his email at [email protected] You can also order them via mail at Richard G. Edwards, 3333 Crown Crest Road, Lexington, KY 40517.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-909-4132 or on Twitter @joe_hde.