Where Writers And Authors Meet Interviews:
Clarence Bonner was our Featured Spotlight author last week and visitors were encouraged to ask Clarence some of their own questions! Here is a link to that Spotlight! Feel free to ask more questions, and we might just be able to get Clarence back for a follow up interview!
Jenny McKinney asks:
Wow CD, we have a lot in common. When I was little, I lived in a tar paper shack in WV, used to work on tube type stuff and helped restore an old Jeep.
Have you found much gold in your prospecting?
Jenny, I’m tickled to hear we have that much in common, and it’s good to see you survived those tough times.
Over several trips spanning several years, only about ¼ ounce of gold and some nice gemstones. But it’s a lot of fun and great outdoor exercise.
Do you still have any of the Studebakers your restored?
I still have the 1951 Champion 4-door, a flathead six with a factory Borg-Warner 3-band automatic (and lock-up torque converter)–very advanced engineering for its day, and it gets an honest 29mpg. I sold my 1962 Lark 4-door 20 years ago. It was a V8 with a manual transmission on the column.
What was the oldest radio you restored?
The oldest so far was a 1935 GE I did as a favor for a fellow Lake Magazine writer. It was pretty trashed, but I got it playing stations from France and China on Shortwave and clear signals on AM.
Who are your author idols?
There are many. Ferrol Sams, my father’s physician, began writing at age 60 and became well known. Check out Whisper the River, and Run With the Horsemen. Mark Twain, H. G. Wells. Tom Wolfe, who wrote The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. And of course, Douglas Adams, author of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I have a wide variety of interests, so they are Legion.
When did you start writing?
I wrote a few short stories in high school that were well received, and I was recommended for Georgia’s Governor’s Honors program (didn’t get past the first selection panel, though) for writing. I had a few poems published in Mercer University’s “The Dulcimer” in 1978-1979. Then the only things I wrote were security manuals and college papers for 30 years. I began in earnest in November 2011 when I retired from the Coast Guard. My book “I Talk Slower Than I Think” led to a paid weekly newspaper column and occasional freelance work for Lake Magazine. A recent story called “Seeking Asylum” was among the nonfiction winners at the national Alabama Literary Competition that’s run by the Alabama Writers’ Conclave. The Conclave is headed by the state Poet Laureate and I got to meet them. That’s good progress in about a year and a half since my book was actually published.
What do you do with your tube radios once you have fixed them?
I give some to friends, and I keep select ones of various decades and styles. I have about 40 radios, some five feet long.
What was it like living in Guam?
It’s hot, like New Orleans hot 365 days a year. Tropical, with it raining on one lane of the road but not the other. Beautiful and not too developed. I could swim in a freshwater spring in the jungle or hike the waterfall and catch freshwater shrimp. The people were very friendly and I liked the slow pace.
If you could meet any book character who would you like to meet and what would you like to do with them?
I’d like to hitchhike the galaxy with Ford Prefect. Actually my dad owned a 1961 Ford Prefect that resembled a yellow and white potato when I was very young.
1) Why do southerners talk so funny?
The true answer is that the rural and mountain isolation preserved the Old World accents of 250 years ago that belonged to our ancestors. My book is titled, “I Talk Slower Than I Think.” Yankees talk faster than they could possibly think, and it gets them into trouble. And Southerners value shades of meaning and subtleties. Like “naked” is being nude, while “nekkid” is being nude an up to something. It’s a broader, richer vocabulary.
2) What is the biggest gold nugget you have found?
Maybe twice the size of a rice grain, not really large.
3) In what way has being former military influenced your writing style or your process?
I wrote a lot of short briefing pieces on short deadlines. That prepared me for my newspaper column quite well. And it forced me to keep my writing tight; one consequence is that I lean toward short stories. Those come very easily to me.
4) What was first book that you remember reading as a child that really stands out in your memory?
It was a Dick and Jane reader in first grade. It stands out because I vividly remember struggling through words I didn’t understand and making progress toward understanding the whole book.
5) Do you get tired of jokes about southern folk, or do you just incorporate them into your writing?
They get tiresome after a while. I did include a humorous story about the Yankees from New York who moved in just across the fence from us, so it sort of evens out. And in a recent column, I poked gentle fun at a recent arrival, a man who had escaped the violence of Detroit only to be struck and killed by Lightning Bugs just outside Chattanooga.
6) Did you see Tucker and Dale versus Evil? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1t8OZn_uhE
First I had heard of it. But it looks like great fun. And the cabin looks a lot like the one my great uncle had here in Alabama. I loved that house.
7) Is there a comedian or comic writer who you admire?
There are many. George Carlin. Bill Cosby. Tom Lehrer. Recently, I’ve gotten hooked on Rachel Bloom. She writes comedy for Robot Chicken and does improv, as well as some high quality comedy videos. Check out her “I Steal Pets” or “F*ck Me, Ray Bradbury” on Youtube. I loved Lewis Grizzard and Jean Shepherd growing up.
What is the most difficult aspect of the writing process and how do you deal with it?
The hardest thing for me is the promotion. The writing comes naturally. The stories largely write themselves as they rattle around my head. They’re pretty near finished before I begin typing, and I make very few tweaks after they are in first draft.
From Admin Virginia- Clarence I rather enjoyed your answers to our questions! Cool radio! I have seen cars like that but that is the first I have seen of the old tube radios! I’d also have to agree that hitchhiking around the galaxy with Ford would be REALLY COOL!
You can find Clarence’s Book on Amazon here