Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Get Comfortable. It's a long story." Part 2

We're picking up with storyteller Bobby R. Woodall for a second day of his real-life tales. If you missed the first part--including a firecracker of a barroom brawl--read it here.

Bobby, when we left off yesterday I'd asked you about this passage from Mercer's Manor: Mercer … could judge people by their handshakes. Some shook your hand so weakly it felt like they had a dead fish attached to the end of the arm, a limp wrist. Others shook so violently that one would have thought that you were a well gone dry. Can you tell a lot about a person from his/her handshake? Is there a time you misjudged someone?

It calls to mind when I first met my mother-in-law. She approached me and held out a limp wrist. Now this redneck farm boy from the wilds of Oklahoma did not fall off the turnip truck this morning and had some manners. I doffed my cowboy hat, clicked my heels, bent over and kissed her proffered hand. I had seen enough of Errol Flynn stories to know how to act the gentleman. Now here I was this poor hillbilly talking to my wife's parents, who were well off enough--my wife's father was a Nuclear Scientist with the Naval Lab in Washington, D.C. I can certainly thank God for them putting up with me all these years!

How about this bit of dialogue from Mercer's Manor: “What do you suppose he does around here?” “Anything he wants to.” Ever known a person like that?
Used to have a friend when I was younger, built like Pharaoh's monuments, but as gentle as it comes. People would make a wide berth when they approached him. My son-in-law is the same dimensions that make people wonder. He's 6'7" and my daughter is 5'2". Sort of like Mutt and Jeff. That's the long and short of the matter for them! My Paw used to tell me, "Boy, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Just make sure you're not under them!"

I liked these lines of your protagonist, Dan Mercer: “If you remember nothing else, do not fight a coward. The coward is like a cornered rat—he can kill you simply trying to escape.” Does this line also come from your life experience?

We had a boy in high school that was an outright sissy, but when a group of other boys cornered him, he like to beat one to death just escaping. Common sense will tell you that. There have been many a bully that was almost killed when his victim turned on him. The victim has no way to go, but will do anything he can to escape.

Bobby, what is your inspiration for writing?

Always wanted to be a writer, but I had an English teacher in high school tell me, "Woodall, you could not put 10 words together to make a proper sentence!" Well, Madame, I put over 187,000 words together to make two novels. I find that I can make sense though others may not like it, but I tell them, "Eat your heart out!" I like reading. One day I told my wife, "I think I can write as good as these guys." She told me to do it and see. She is my inspiration, for without her I would be lost! If I am successful, my wife is the reason. So I wrote one novel and it got published. I wrote another to prove I was not a flash in the pan and it got published. "Hey," I thought to myself, "I’m on a roll." Therefore I’m busy writing more--a murder mystery, another western, a children’s book, a horror story and a scary story.

What’s the difference between a horror story and a scary story? In a horror story there’s a lot of fantasy. In a scary story, it is a case of what might or might not happen. I’ve been compared to Louis Lamour, but there are two important things about that. First and the most obvious, I’m alive and he isn’t. (God rest his soul!) Secondly, he takes three chapters to describe a blade of grass. To me, a blade of grass is a blade of grass. I describe people. I want readers to walk a mile in my boots or at least look at my characters through my one eye.

My novels are from my imagination plus real life experiences. (I ask my friends if I can use their name in a story and they say yes. They even go so far as to tell me what character they want to be.) Writing is a form of therapy. One can vent his anger, relive a fantasy or get rid of frustrations. It's wonderful to be alive at this time and in this very moment! My wife says, "Bobby, you’re full of it as a Christmas turkey." Maybe so, but I’m writing it all down and getting paid for it!

That you are. Final question: got another story for us?

Let me tell you a funny on ol' Bobby. The incident happened right after we were married.

I was a bad alcoholic, got to drinking and staying out all night. My mother called, and my wife tearfully said I was not there. Now my Mom put two and two together. She knew I was out drinking. So she told my wife to hide behind the door and when I came staggering in to hit me with the cast iron skillet Mom had given us. About three hours later I came stumbling through the front door, reached for the switch--and suddenly the lights went out. My wife had cold-cocked me! I fell heavily to the floor. My wife, alarmed at what she'd done, called my mother.

"He's dead, " she cried. "What do I do now!"

"First check to see if he's breathing. Just place your finger under his nose and feel for warm air."

"I did. He's alive!"

"Good. Now you go to bed, and in the morning when he comes around, look him in the face and say, 'It's bad enough for a man to go drinking, but when he comes home and can't even get in bed with his wife, it's a crying shame!'"

In the morning, my wife told me just that. Sheepishly, I promised her no more drinking. I figured I had gotten into a barroom brawl and somone had really smacked me upside the head. I did not find out the truth for five years. To hear Babe tell it, she hid behind the door, and when I came in and was reaching for the light switch, she hit me right behind the ear on my left side! To this day we still got the old cast iron skillet. "Your mother's weapon," I joke to the kids, but just the mere mention of it and I wince from the place where I was hit!

Bobby, thanks for two days of great entertainment.

F&F readers: would you like to hear more of Bobby Robert's stories? Leave a question for him in the comments. He just might return to answer them sometime. Meanwhile you can connect with Bobby on Facebook and Twitter. To read more about his books, visit his Web site.

Mercer's Manor on Amazon ($13.99)
Mercer's Manor on Kindle ($5.98)
Clearwater on Amazon ($16.95)
Clearwater on Kindle ($5.98)
Photo Friday winner: William G., with this caption: It was a sad day for pastry lovers everywhere when the Pillsbury Dough Boy's parachute didn't open.

Congrats, William. E-mail me at brandilyn (at) brandilyncollins (dot) com with your address and choice of one of my novels.

1 comment:

Mia said...

Loved reading this interview! :)