Co-author a novel with a NASCAR driver?
I wasn’t sure if it could be done, but it sounded like an adventure.
I met race car driver Adam Edwards, my Faster Pastor co-author, at a Bristol event, when he bought a copy of St Dale, my NASCAR homage to The Canterbury Tales, and offered to give me technical advice on an future projects.
Adam became my crew chief for Once Around the Track; in it he is character Tony Lafon. He gave me my first ride-along in a race car at Lowes Motor Speedway: 170 mph, with me in a fire suit and helmet watching the wall come up in front of us only inches away. Trusting him to that extent required only a little less faith than committing to co-author, which I had never done before.
Adam did some public appearances with me for Once Around the Track, and he had written impressive drafts of action scenes, so one day I suggested that we try to co-author a novel. I had an idea that involved his field of expertise– teaching middle-aged guys how to drive a race car.
“I’ll write the first thousand words, and e-mail it to you, and you write the next thousand.” I thought, “If he doesn’t do his thousand words, we’ll just forget the whole thing.” But he did it!
We wrote Faster Pastor in ten months, placed it with Ingalls Publishing Group, and now the real adventure begins
How did you come to return to continuing the Ballad series?
Truly creative people, those who practice their craft with artistic vision instead of to make a fast buck, occasionally leave the safe, well-worn path that made them famous to try some new endeavor, just to keep their talent fresh or to explore new possibilities. In 2002 I did that. Instead of the expected Ballad novel, I wrote St. Dale, a modern version of The Canterbury Tales set in NASCAR. It won a Library of Virginia award; the Best Appalachian Novel Award; got me invited to the White House; and gave me wonderful adventures and the best friends I’ve ever had.
With The Devil Amongst the Lawyers, set at a trial in the Virginia Blue Ridge in 1935, I return to the Ballad novels, because I wanted to talk about what happens when the media stereotypes a culture in order to sensationalize a story and thus to sell newspapers. I write about what interests me, when I find I have something worth saying. I am pleased and grateful that there is so much interest in my Ballad novels. I hope that, besides telling a good story in those works, I can shed light upon some of the cultural issues that concern me. In The Devil Amongst the Lawyers, I found a story I wanted to tell.
Sharyn McCrumb is an award-winning Southern writer, best known for her Appalachian “Ballad” novels and for “St. Dale.” Forthcoming novels are “The Devil Amongst the Lawyers” (Thomas Dunne, 2010) and “Faster Pastor” (Ingalls Publishing Group, 2010),the latter co-authored by NASCAR driver Adam Edwards. In 2008 Sharyn McCrumb was named a “Virginia Woman of History” for Achievement in Literature. http://www.sharynmccrumb.com