Parceling The Fiction With The Truth – Monte Dutton
I went to a college football game recently with the person, who, as best I know, was the first to buy and complete my novel, The Intangibles. I’ve known Dan Atkinson’s father for more than thirty years, and Dan is knowledgeable about Clinton, S.C., my hometown, which has its share of similarities to Fairmont, the town in The Intangibles.
While watching the Furman Paladins resist the Homecoming assault of the Samford Bulldogs, he and I had a conversation about the principal characters. I cleared up some misconceptions, such as the fact that the rival coach in the novel is not based on the famous coach Dan suspected.
No one in the book is a real person, but I doubt I’m alone in mixing and matching the attributes of people I’ve actually known. Some characters are complete inventions, that is, if there really is such a thing. I took a few good guys I’d known and made them bad, which is another way of making them up. There’s a family that’s a lot like my own, but it’s not the same size. I’ve never been particularly good friends with any set of twins, though I did grow up with kids whose parents taught at Presbyterian College, which is similar to the Oconee in the novel.
If I am to make a successful career of this fiction-writing caper, I can’t go but so far expanding from the events of my own life. The history of literature is littered with the remains of writers who couldn’t make a transition once the mother lode of personal experience had been mined to the point of tedium.
I am mindful of this, having read biographies of such men.
Getting inside the imagined mind of the hero of my first novel, Riley Mansfield in The Audacity of Dope, was wildly amusing. Riley and I have little in common, but it sure was fun to get to know him. I loved every minute of it.
The Intangibles is more personal, and I lived through the times about which I was writing.
The third novel, into which I am about to dive again, has a protagonist named Chance Benford who is more distant to me than the characters in the previous tales. Crazy by Natural Causes is going to be a bit more over the top even than The Audacity of Dope.
About The Intangibles
It’s 1968. The winds of change are descending on Fairmont and engulfing the small South Carolina town in a tornadic frenzy. The public schools are finally being completely integrated. Mossy Springs High School is closing and its black students are now attending formerly all-white Fairmont High; the town is rife with racial tension. Several black youths have been arrested for tossing firebombs at a handful of stores. White citizens form a private academy for the purpose of keeping their kids out of the integrated school system. The Ku Klux Klan is growing.
Reese Knighton arrives on the scene at precisely the right time. The principal of Fairmont High School, Claude Lowell, becomes superintendent of the school district. Lowell chooses Preston Shipley, currently the football coach, to replace him as principal and hires Knighton to coach the team, thus forcing Knighton to find common ground with Willie Spurgeon, the successful Mossy Springs coach who has been passed over for a job he richly deserves.
At The Intangibles’center is the Hoskins family, their relationships to those living within the town of Fairmont giving rise to a memorable cast of characters. Tommy Hoskins is a local businessman and farmer who is a supporter of the team, on which his older son, Frankie, plays. Frankie’s best friend is Raymond Simpson, who lives in a shanty on the Hoskins’ farm. Another of Frankie’s friends, Ned Whitesides, is a spoiled bigot. Clarence “Click” Clowney is the talented, rebellious quarterback from Mossy Springs. Al Martin is the staunch black tackle who becomes the glue that keeps the integrated team together. Twins James and Joey Leverette are the sons of professors at local Oconee College. Curly Mayhew coaches rival Lexington Central. Laura Hedison is a white cheerleader. Jorge Heredia is a tennis player at the college who sells drugs on the side. Aubrey Roper is a college girl who exerts a corruptive influence on Frankie Hoskins. The county sheriff, a turncoat within the team, Ned Whitesides’ father, the loyal assistants, militants both black and white, a doctor, a lawyer, local businessmen, and others all add fuel to the fires of prejudice and fear of the unknown that are raging in the town of Fairmont.
This is a story of a high school football team that puts aside its differences, never realizing that, outside its bounds, the world is unraveling. It’s a story about the cultural changes, good and bad, that take place when two societies shift and finally come together.
Ultimately, The Intangibles is a story of triumph achieved at considerable cost.
Monte Dutton lives in Clinton, South Carolina. In high school, he played football for a state championship team, then attended Furman University, Greenville, S.C., graduating in 1980, B.A., cum laude, political science/history.
He spent 20 years (1993-2012)wriing about NASCAR for several publications. He was named Writer of the Year by the Eastern Motorsports Press Association (Frank Blunk Award) in 2003 and Writer of the Year by the National Motorsports Press Association (George Cunningham Award) in 2008. His NASCAR writing was syndicated by King Feature Syndicate in the form of a weekly page, “NASCAR This Week” for 17 years.
Monte Dutton is also the author of Pride of Clinton, a history of high school football in his hometown, 1986; At Speed, 2000 (Potomac Books); Rebel with a Cause: A Season with NASCAR’s Tony Stewart, 2001 (Potomac Books); Jeff Gordon: The Racer, 2001 (Thomas Nelson); Postcards from Pit Road, 2003 (Potomac Books); Haul A** and Turn Left, 2005 (Warner Books), True to the Roots: Americana Music Revealed, 2006. (Bison Books); and is an Editor/Contributor of Taking Stock: Life in NASCAR’s Fast Lane, 2004 (Potomac Books).
The Audacity of Dope, 2011 (Neverland Publishing) was his first novel, and Neverland recently published his second, The Intangibles. Another, Crazy by Natural Causes, is in the works.
Visit the author’s site: http://www.montedutton.com/
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