The Sheltering Palms was my first endeavor into fiction writing, so there has been some trepidation about the book’s reception. The novel was definitely a labor of love.
I spent well over forty years working around lawyers, cops and unions, and there was simply too much rich material to pass up writing a story about these fascinating subjects. And my childhood around a bourbon-swilling, piano-playing grandfather and other eccentric family characters offered further material for some terrific tales about these oddballs. When I combined my childhood along with my career and developed a coherent story, the result was a satisfying fictional autobiography that hopefully you will enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing it.
During my career, I wrote and published three professional books about police unions, and figured: how hard could it be to write a novel? Boy, was I deluded! A novel is a completely different process, requiring a creativity and word usage that at first puzzled me. But I finally got into the groove and the result is a book that hopefully you will find to be funny, eerie, sardonic and a little bit, no make that a whole lot, lewd.
The protagonist, that would be yours truly, represented some truly heroic police officers and some of the lowest of the low, but all of them were compelling characters. Readers might be shocked to look behind the curtain and see what really happens in police departments, but you will definitely enjoy the ride.
I especially hope that you enjoy the character named Buster, who in the book was an attorney in a small east Tennessee burg who mentored me during my formative years. Buster definitely enjoyed his bourbon way too much, had more information floating around in his head than ten people combined, could spin the funniest tales, write the funniest letters, and had the most peculiar ideas about religion and politicians. He was the mold for what has been termed “country lawyer.”
When I finished writing this book, I gave a huge sigh of relief, figuring my work was now complete. What did I know? Several of my colleagues told me I needed a professional editor. I said, “I took English in college, so why the hell do I need an editor.” But I followed their advice and brought on ace editor Jeff LaFerney, not realizing that he was going to push me through an English 101 boot camp and point out the many grammatical errors I had made in the writing process. Because of Jeff’s efforts, the final project is so much improved. I can never thank him enough for his efforts.
I have so enjoyed writing this novel that a sequel is now in the works. It should be completed sometime next spring. Good reading!