#YourNextBeachRead is 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 Clay Mercer, author of Natural Born Crazy.
What’s your name and where are you from?
Clay Mercer, Pinehurst, Georgia
How long have you been writing? How did you start?
I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but my ‘serious’ writing only began about ten years ago.
Who are some of your influences?
Lots of people, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ernest Hemingway, W.E.B. Griffin, Larry McMurtry. That list could go on forever.
What is your book about?
Natural Born Crazy is the third book in my ‘Crazy’ trilogy. The trilogy features the customs and idiosyncrasies of Southern Culture in the modern era. Natural Born Crazy focuses on how family members react to the death of a ne’er do well relative whose most notable characteristic is his reputation for con games, scams, and borrowing money.
Where did you get the idea?
The idea for Natural Born Crazy sprang from a conversation with a writer friend, Wanda Argersinger. Wanda has helped me on a few of my books and I had outlined the basic plot of Natural Born Crazy, although I didn’t, at that time, have a title for the project. After our conversation, I began seriously developing the project, which until then had just been a vague idea.
How long did it take you to finish it?
I started development on Natural Born Crazy in September of 2018. I began writing the manuscript in late December of 2018, and began the publishing process on June 30, 2019.
Is this your first book, or have you written more than one?
Natural Born Crazy is my seventh solo novel. I have another book that I co-authored with Wanda Argersinger.
We all like to write about people we know, even if we never name them. Who are some people who inspired characters or situations?
The character Harry Turner was inspired by my father’s cousin, Mercer Bowen, who I never knew. The character Charlotte Rae James is an amalgam of just about every crazy Southern Belle in literary history. Other characters share characteristics and habits of real people, some of whom are easy to identify while others are not so easy.
What’s your favorite scene in the book?
My favorite scene in Natural Born Crazy involves the tea party hosted by Charlotte Rae James. It occurs in the fourth chapter and illustrates accurately how different people in the same social setting view the event itself and other guests, all at once.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever got?
The best piece of writing advice I ever got was, “Tell your story, for only you can tell it and the only story you can tell is your own.”
What’s the worst?
The worst piece of writing advice came from a high school English teacher who accused me of plagiarism, advised me that I had no talent for writing, and that she also thought I was demented.
Where can we buy your book?
Born in the South and raised on the back of a horse, Clay Mercer has never been one to conceal his feelings. “I ain’t afraid of snakes, green-broke horses, or red-headed women, but don’t ask me to loan you money or pick you up at the airport.” Clay is a syndicated newspaper columnist who shares his own brand of down-home humor, which reflects the methods Americans employ in the pursuit of happiness. Clay can also be found on his website, wwwclaymercer.com, where he showcases his other books and his favorite horses.