On first glance, Dwight Fryer reminds you of the smart, but mischievous kid who sat behind you in class. You know, the one with the big grin and the twinkle in the eyes, who, as soon as you weren't looking, reached over and tugged on your ponytail or else playfully thumped you upside the head? But when you turned to confront him, he shrugged and issued you one of those, "What? Who me?" looks.
Make no mistake though, Fryer is man who is all about business, especially when it comes to the art and craft of writing. His first book, The Legend of Quito Road, recently earned him an NAACP Image Award nomination in the category of "Outstanding Literary Works From A Debut Author."
Dwight and I are both writers with strong ties to the South and specifically, Memphis, Tennessee, where Dwight and his family still currently reside. We first met there in 2005 after being introduced, via the internet, by a mutual friend and fellow scribe (big shout-out to Sharon J.). But while I was born in the Big M Town and consider myself a product of it's grittier, more urban terrain, Dwight actually hails from Grand Junction, a small rural town in west Tennessee.
In my opinion, Dwight's unique ability to tap into his southern, Black rural roots are what give his work that special "umpf" quality and helps distinguish him from the "same ole same" of today's Urban Lit crowd. In the short time that I've known Dwight, I've come to admire his drive, his tenacity, his dedication to craft and his willingness to share what he's learned with others.
If you're interested in learning more about Dwight Fryer, author of The Legend of Quito Road and 2007 NAACP Image Award nominee, I invite you to start with the following Q & A.
Q: Your book, The Legend of Quito Road, what's it about? A: The book is a story about a 13-year-old country boy named Son Erby whose religious daddy showed him how to make moonshine. It's a southern tale set in the 1930's, at the height of the depression and near the end of prohibition. The main theme of the book is that "the worst things wrong with most of us were planted by those who loved us best."
Q: Is there really a Quito Road? If so, where is it? A: Yes, it's in south Tipton County, about 30 minutes northwest of Memphis. When I started writing this book, I was living up near that area.
Q: How long did it take you to write The Legend of Quito Road? A: I wrote the first words to this book on a Sunday afternoon in late July in 1998. I was at a writing class in a Barnes & Noble in Wichita Kansas. It took me 4 and 1/2 years. I finished it at Christmas in 2002; it was my Christmas gift to myself.
Q: Wow, 4 years is a long time! Did you ever consider giving up? A: I considered giving up a whole lot of times. Number one thing, writing a novel and pushing through just to complete it is an enormous task. I laugh a lot of times because I'm glad I didn't know how much work it was when I started it, because I'm afraid I wouldn't have . . .
Also, I had so many unique things happen to me after I started writing this book. I began writing the book in July of 1998. In August, I accepted a call to the Ministry. In September, I lost my job and two days later found out I had colon cancer and needed radical surgery and chemotherapy.
So, through all of that and even 2 years later when my youngest child died suddenly of meningitis, I kept writing this novel.
Q: Your perserverance in the face of so much is both humbling and truly amazing. Even now, I know you wear a lot of different hats--author, minister, motivational speaker and manger for a global transportation company. Being that you're also a husband and father, I assume, you have some semblance of a life away from work (smile). How do you find time to write? A: I'm an old guy and I don't need much sleep. So, I'm in bed most nights by 9:00-9:30 and I'm up the next morning by 4:30. I write for a couple of hours before I get ready for work. On Saturday mornings, I get up about 6:00 am and I write. So, if it's important to you, you'll fit it in. And you don't need that much time if you know how to structure yourself . . . All you have have to do is think, 'what am I going to write today?' and look at that part of your outline and write it.
Q: Since you brought up being "an old guy" (your words, not mine *smile*)what's your take on being an older writer? A: Your life experiences, to me, kind of begin to come together between 35 and 50. For me, life is really coming together as I approach 50. When I first started thinking about this book, 16 years ago, I was in my early 30's. This would have been a very different book from a much angrier young man had I written it then.
STAY TUNED FOR PART II OF THE OSM'S Q & A WITH DWIGHT FRYER