From time to time people ask me if I have ever written a book or if I intend to. And the answer is that I did “ghost write” three documentaries and an autobiography for The Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) around the turn of the century, but I am not sure if they are still available. The second part of the answer is that I have no real plans to write another because I am too lazy to do all the work that such an undertaking entails.
Writing, from my observation, is one thing. Getting a book published and sold is a horse of an entirely different color. I was paid quite well to write the CAP books, but I had absolutely nothing to do with their publication and distribution. Getting the attention of a major, or even minor, for that matter, publishing company for one’s manuscript is more akin to winning the lottery than it is to having a publisher actually read and like what one has written.
Self-publishing involves shelling out a bunch of cash to get a book printed between covers and then spending another ton of time, energy and money trying to sell it or otherwise make it available to the public.
On the other hand, one of the top three best novels that I have read this year is a semi-self-published (Xlibris) and distributed work that is far, far better than almost all the 200 plus other titles (at least two dozen of them, “bestsellers”) I have perused since the first of the year. I read too much to have time for writing anything more serious than this column. The best thing about retirement is that I now have almost as much time as I want to read. It is not unusual for me to get so wrapped up in a good novel that I will complete it in one day without ever laying it down.
Such was the case with Alfred Patrick’s newest and anxiously anticipated offering, entitled Clinch Valley Pursuit, the third book in his “Clinch” series that was preceded by Clinch River Justice and Clinch Mountain Echoes. I read Pursuit twice in one weekend early last month then dug around the house until I found the first two so that I could reread them for the third time.
As is the case with many other writers when they decide to get serious about the craft, Al’s books are noticeably more complex and more cleverly plotted as they advance chronologically. Both Echoes and Pursuit will be far more meaningful to readers who have read the preceding titles simply because all three feature several of the same major characters and the same general location/setting in rural, mountainous, southwestern Virginia. The time frame is the 1940s with the first book taking place during the WWII years and the third one in 1948. Reading all three in order, enables readers to watch the two main characters grow up together.
While Pursuit can be best described as Crime/Action Adventure, it is difficult to pigeonhole either of the titles into one particular genre. The first two combine elements of standard murder mystery, dramatic action, history, law enforcement and socio-economics. All three are seasoned with enough romance to keep fans of that genre interested.
In a previous review of one of these books I recall saying that the most compelling aspect of Al Patrick’s writing is that he nails the use of Appalachian dialect better than anyone I have ever read. Al is a native of southwest Virginia so it’s easy to understand that he might get it right. But more often than not I find myself embarrassed for both the writers (Including natives) and their characters as they absolutely butcher and unintentionally make mockery of our dialect when they attempt to create dialogue in the local vernacular. Al
Patrick has the too rare talent of making his characters feel and sound so genuine that readers will begin to feel as though they know them.
Al has not always been a fiction writer. His long, successful teaching career began at the high school level in his beloved southwest Virginia several decades back and culminated when he retired as Dean of Eastern Kentucky University’s College of Business about four years ago.
But persistence is Al’s trademark as evidenced by the fact that he has hiked the entire lengths of both the Appalachian Trail and the John Muir Trail as well as numerous others exceeding 100 miles. In case you don’t know, The Appalachian Trail is over 2,000 mostly steep miles long. I suspect that persistence is the major reason his books have been relatively successful and became published in the first place.
The best way to get the books, individually, or as a set, is to purchase them directly from the author at the wholesale price. Each book is in the 230 page range. Softcovers are $14 each, two for $25, three for $37. Hardbacks are $18.00, two for $30 and three for $44. If you order by mail postage and handling is $3 for one book, $4 for two and $5 for all three.
Shipping is the same for both hard back and soft cover, but Al is happy to make arrangements to have buyers pick them up in Richmond to save all shipping and handling charges. Call him at 859-623-4290, email [email protected] or order directly by sending payment plus shipping and handling to Alfred Patrick, P.O. Box 2077, Richmond, KY 40476.
Reach longtime Enterprise columnist Ike Adams at [email protected] or on Facebook or 249 Charlie Brown Road, Paint Lick, KY 40461.