Today’s interview complements of the author’s son Scott.
As the character I’m interviewing today for Novel PASTimes, is featured in one of my dad’s, as yet, unpublished novels, let me set the stage for our discussion.
Part One of “Bluebell” opens in 1939, with Willis Jefferson approaching the town of Drewsport. An adult black man, Willis was saved, as a child, by Rowena Kramer, a kindly white woman, just 12 years earlier during a violent storm on the plains of Kansas. Miss Rowena introduced Willis to education, and instilled in him, a love for all.
As he nears the town’s first house, a woman’s scream startles him. Realizing it would be suicide to go to her aid, he tries to ignore the sounds of the beating, but is stopped by the memory of Miss Rowena’s teachings. He rushes to the house where he finds a viciously beaten white woman. Though his actions are heroic, he doesn’t become the beloved of Drewsport and pays the ultimate price for his actions.
The subject of my interview, Carl Schenfield, is an investigative reporter and novelist who kicked off Part Two of “Bluebell”, by going to Drewsport intent on seeing it pay for its crimes. As we spoke, we took much delight commenting, when possible, with excerpts from the novel, which I’ve set aside in quotation marks.
Scott: Thanks for meeting with me Carl. My research shows you were a correspondent in the Pacific when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and it was there you met someone that greatly impacted you. Can you tell me about that meeting?
Carl: He was a “young man, a gunner’s mate from a PT squadron, at an airstrip on Leyte. They were there waiting for transportation north. The boy was being reassigned after having been hospitalized for injuries incurred when his boat was blown from beneath him.”
Scott: And you talked with him for a long time?
Carl: No, it was “a brief encounter…war rarely leaves time for proper introductions. Such meetings might be no more than sharing a slit trench, a life raft, foxhole, or being slung over the shoulder of some guy who’s risking his life to save your butt.”
Scott: That doesn’t sound like ideal circumstances for investigative reporting.
Carl: Actually, “these situations, and the myriad of others created by war, make room for an openness that is seldom achieved in more refinedcircumstances. Maybe there’s an attraction, maybe there isn’t; it’s of little consequence. In the next minute either, or both of you, could be dead. It had been that way with…Jeremy.”
Scott: Other than what he told you, what stands out about your time together?
Carl: We “were together less than an hour” but even in that short time, I “learned a great deal about the boy, his family, friends…and his hometown.”
Scott: Being a reporter during the war, you probably “had seen more death than a hundred men would see in a lifetime. In the midst of such wholesale slaughter, why would hearing about the death of one man make such a lasting impression?“
Carl: During my time in the Pacific, “there had been atrocities enough on both sides to foster grave misgivings concerning the state of the ‘civilized’ world.” Then the kid told me what his town had done, and “I was forced to acknowledge the truth: Ignorance, and the fear it breeds, will always combine with hate to produce the same crop.”
Scott: According to my dad’s synopsis of the book, your role in the story covers approximately two weeks and you learned as much about yourself as you did about the town, but very little of either offered much hope for humanity.
Carl: Well, if I may be allowed to quote the same synop, “Bluebell, however, is not a tale of gloom and doom. There are more than enough moments of tenderness, love and actual brotherhood to give the reader reason to search, expectantly, for the tunnel’s light. It is there, and Bluebell points to it, but not in a way that all will see.”
Scott: Wow…thanks Carl. That makes me want to get this book published even more.
W.D. McIntyre has been writing since the 1950’s and is still working on new novels or performing rewrites of old ones. His publishing dream though, died many years ago and now, any hope that this 94 year-old WWII Navy veteran’s writing will get published rests almost entirely with me, his son.
In earlier years, Dad worked hard to get his writing published. I have documentation showing over 115 submissions of his work to multiple publishing sources. But that effort only produced one short story being printed in a 1981 issue of Virtue magazine.
This lack of achievement could explain why submitting work stopped years ago and, to some, serve as evidence that the writing wasn’t good enough to make it to the public. I disagree. I’ve learned, from studying TV talent competitions, that ‘Lack of Success isn’t necessarily tied to Talent’.
For instance, consider Kelly Clarkson, the first season winner of American Idol. My research showed this incredibly talented and successful singer had nearly given up on her dream of making it in music, until a friend talked her into trying out for American Idol. Her victory proves she was gifted but it was the exposure on national TV that propelled her to fame.
With that thought in mind, my goal has been to increase the public’s awareness and appreciation of who his dad is and what he has written. In essence, I’m trying to duplicate the success experienced by Kelly Clarkson through getting my dad’s talent well known.
More About My Project
Find out how to get 3 FREE short storiesby dad
Read an excerpt from Bluebell
Learn All About Bluebell
Follow Rowena Kramer-Carlsonon Twitter
Peruse interviews with other Bluebell characters