Senior Professor of English, Dr. Walton Young has taught at Truett McConnell University for over ten years, and has written and published short stories and novels, both nationally and internationally.
Young’s first published novel, A Gathering of Eagles, is set during and after World War I primarily in Bartow County, Georgia, where Young has family roots. The novel’s protagonist, Prescott Freeman, finds himself embroiled in conflict concerning family and land. In the novel, Young explores lessons about loss and the redemptive power of love.
Young’s current fictional series is a western trilogy published through Black Horse Westerns, a British publishing company. The first book in this series, Days of Dust and Heat,was published in 2017, and the second in the series, Kinsman of the Gun, will be released next spring. Both novels are not only westerns, but murder mysteries.
In this series, the professor incorporates the Old West and Civil War eras, because, as he stated, “There is a close relationship with history and literature. I like to travel to the past and follow and see what they [the characters] are up to.”
As the second book of the series is set for publication, Young shared how the third book of the trilogy is already unfolding in his mind.
The process unfolding
Young’s writing style begins not with a book’s theme but its characters. It’s “the focus on the characters. And out of those characters will emerge the theme, symbolism, and such.”
Young attributes his writing style and use of historic settings to his favorite authors, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway.
Part of the writing process focuses on naming the characters, defining personalities, and determining how personalities will be revealed throughout the story. Young says, “I usually don’t know how the novel is going to end when I start. It comes from my imagination. I envision a character, or several characters in a scene, and follow these characters until the draft is finished. It usually takes several years to finish a novel. The actual writing is not the hard part,” he said, “it’s that I do a lot of revising.”
The process of publishing in the UK will also add to the timeframe. The publishing company requires the added change to British language before Young begins his proofing process. “After I finish the first manuscript,” he says, “I like to back away for a little while for it to cool down, and then go back and start revising.” When the book is completely finished, Young says, he always feels “ecstatic!” adding, “It’s a wonderful and exhausting feeling because you want it to be the best.”
Sharing his writing passion with others
As writer and professor, Young has the opportunity to speak with his students about his experiences as well as the craft of writing and publishing. The best advice the professor would give to anyone pursing a writing career, would be “to never give up and always be persistent.”
“It’s a tough business,” he adds. “There are countless authors who have received rejection after rejection and the important thing is, if writers really believe in their work, they cannot give up.”
In his current writing class, the professor provides the same motivation to students seeking better techniques to help them do their best work. “It’s a discovery process. They have to discover their characters, but also themselves.”
Future projects are definitely in the works for Young. “I have something working right now in my imagination about Northwest Georgia during the 1920’s and, of course, the ending to the western trilogy.”
For now, his quiet mountain home in northeast Georgia provides the ambiance needed to imagine and create these fictional masterpieces.
TMU will provide release information for Kinsman of the Gun when a date is announced.
Jenny Gregory is the Digital Marketing Specialist for TMU Marketing and Communications.
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