#YourNextBeachRead is continuing into July as a way to introduce you to a new author and their works in the hopes that you’ll find the next book you want to take with you to the beach, the pool, or the comforts of air conditioning.
Today’s featured author is Michael Potts, author of End Of Summer..
What’s your name and where are you from?
Michael Potts, from Coats, North Carolina
How long have you been writing? How did you start?
I have been writing since 1998 when I took a poetry course at the school where I teach, Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Who are some of your influences?
In fiction, my influences are James Agee, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Ernest Hemingway, and Cormac McCarthy. In poetry, my major influences have been Wendell Berry and Donald Hall.
What is your book about?
In End of Summer, a man returns to the field where he walked with his granddaddy in childhood to uncover the source of his obsessive interest—in the heart and in death. He relives his ninth year, a year of idyllic life in the country and the year he will face the greatest loss in his life. Through his journey, he finds meaning through that loss and answers to the sources of his obsessions.
Where did you get the idea?
As a mildly autistic child (“Asperger’s Syndrome”), I struggled with being different. Even today I have obsessive interests that stemmed from childhood—an obsession with death and the physical heart. I wrote this book as a fictional journey that parallels my own journey in many respects to help make sense of my own life and hopefully to enlighten others about the struggles of an autistic child.
How long did it take you to finish it?
I wrote the first draft in six months. Revision took another two years.
Is this your first book, or have you written more than one?
This is one of six books. Unpardonable Sin and Obedience are horror novels; Aerobics for the Mind is a group of exercises to make philosophy fun. From Field to Thicket is a literary poetry chapbook; Hiding from the Reaper is a book of horror poetry.
We all like to write about people we know, even if we never name them. Who are some people who inspired characters or situations?
My grandparents, especially my maternal grandfather, was the chief inspiration. I put some of my dad’s characteristics into the character of the grandfather. My aunt was also a big influence, as well as some great uncles and some neighbors I knew as a child. The main character, Jeffrey, is based on me, and I gave him the name of my twin brother who died shortly after birth.
What’s your favorite scene in the book?
I like the scene where Jeffrey goes to church and reacts to the hell fire and brimstone sermon with fear and trembling.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever got?
The obvious one is “show, don’t tell.” The recommendations to read James Agee’s A Death in the Family was the best practical advice I received; it is a model of beautiful writing with solid plot and characterization.
What’s the worst?
The worst advice was to avoid description and adjectives at all cost. Sometimes descriptions is necessary, and while adjectives can be overdone, in the hands of a master like Poe or Lovecraft they can work wonders.
Where can we buy your book?
Amazon and other major book outlets.
Michael Potts is Professor of Philosophy at Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina. A native of Smyrna, Tennessee, he has written three novels: the Southern fiction novel End of Summer and the horror novels Unpardonable Sin and Obedience. He has also written a book of fun, practical exercises in philosophy, Aerobics for the Mind. His poetry chapbook, From Field to Thicket, won the 2006 Mary Belle Campbell Poetry Book Award of the North Carolina Writers’ Network. He also has a full-length poetry book published, Hiding from the Reaper and other Horror Poems. He lives with his wife, Karen, and their nine cats in Coats, North Carolina.