Write On Magazine's
Frank C. Strunk
Madeira Beach Author Frank
C. Strunk talks
"Being a novelist is
a goal I wanted more than anything else," recalls Frank C. Strunk,
relaxing on the porch of his Florida beachfront condo. Strunk paused
to watch a seagull glide over the expanse of white sandy beach and dive
for fish in the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico as he talked about
the decision he made eleven years ago.
about the craft of writing and his new suspense thriller, Throwback
by Evelyn Manak
"I decided to move to Florida to become a fiction writer and when
I got here discovered I didn't know how to do it," he laughed.
"Writing clear, clean precise prose is something I'd always tried
to do. But to use this to craft a novel, I just didn't know how. So
I started frantically trying to learn."
With publication of his third novel this summer, a suspense thriller
entitled, Throwback, (HarperCollins
Publishers, New York; August 1996; $20) Frank C. Strunk has achieved
After attending countless workshops, reading numerous books on the craft
of writing and producing two unpublished novels, Strunk met a writer
who gave him valuable advice. He was Gary Provost, true-crime writer,
novelist, lecturer, and celebrity biographer, who passed away last spring.
From Provost and other talented authors, Strunk learned techniques to
hone his writing skills. He often shares what he has learned as a guest
lecturer with the Florida Suncoast Writers Conference and Gail Provost's
Writing Retreat Workshops. See Frank C. Strunk's
Strunk was born and raised
in Eastern Kentucky, the setting for Throwback,
his third novel. After the army Strunk attended the University of Kentucky
where he earned his journalism degree. He worked on the state desk of
the Lexington Herald, was editor of a weekly paper in Mount Vernon,
Kentucky; served as editor of Rural Kentuckian Magazine, then
went to Washington D.C. as Associate Editor of Rural Electrification
Magazine and in the mid-sixties founded his own advertising and
public relations firm, of which he remains a principal.
"I love to
go to the mountains every chance I get,"
said Strunk. "I love to hike in the back woods. I have
friends who are hunters, and I go out on hiking
expeditions with them. We sit around and play music,
sing, laugh, tell stories and have a good time."
Strunk, who currently resides in Madeira Beach, Florida, is the author
of two previous novels, Jordon's Wager and Jordon's Showdown,
both of which take place in the mountains of Kentucky.
"I'm endlessly fascinated by mountain people, their culture and
their ways," Strunk said. "I like the mountains. I have very
deep roots in the mountains. My ancestors on both sides settled in the
Appalachian Mountains about 200 years ago."
"Something about the character of the mountain people is very appealing
to me. The lack of pretense and the inherent honesty and integrity that
I find (obviously not in everybody--you don't find that in everybody
any place) but that's the ideal that mountain people strive for,"
"In the old mountain culture , those old kind of virtues were of
paramount importance to people. You could be relied upon to keep your
word. And you did not transgress against anybody and you would not be
transgressed against. And you were self-reliant, in wanting to take
care of yourself and the people you were responsible for. I think those
ideas arise from two things: first, the kind of people who settled the
mountains--mostly English, Scotch-Irish and German, who brought with
them a lot of those old ideas and virtues. Second, their virtues came
out of the lessons they learned about life in taming the wilderness.
If you're going to survive in the mountains, you have to be able to
depend on what another man tells you; you have to work together. These
are things that are particular to the Appalachian Mountain people. I
am fascinated by that and the history. I have studied mountain history
for many years and I love to read about it so it was a natural thing
for me to write about it."
Frank C. Strunk was born in Stearns, Kentucky in Southeast
near the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River, the setting of
novel, suspense thriller, Throwback. "I'm endlessly fascinated
mountain people, their culture and their ways," Strunk said.
Strunk's first two books
were also set in the Appalachian Mountains, in the days of Prohibition
and the Great Depression in the 1930s. His latest book is a contemporary
novel, also set in the mountains and the character is, as the title
suggests, a throwback to those earlier values and how those ideas
and that old culture has collided with the new culture.
"The conflict with all the old virtues that are still held by
many of the mountain people seemed to make a good theme for the book,
and that's how Throwback has developed,"
Strunk's main character, Cole Clayfield, is a responsible, decent
human being with good values, good instincts--a virtuous man. He finds
nothing wrong with hunting a deer and bringing it home and using it
"Most mountain people are that way. Clayfield teaches his ten-year-old
granddaughter Shelby the ways of the woods, teaches her how to hunt
rabbits, and that's a little politically incorrect these days,"
Strunk said. "But the things he's taught her turn out to be very
helpful and valuable to her when she's taken hostage in the woods
by a bad guy. The things she learns about life and the woods from
her grandfather are things that are extremely important to her for
The books that Strunk writes about Kentucky and the mountains give
him a chance to write about things that are important to him.
"Novels are supposed to reach people. The cardinal sin, I think
is to bore people with your novels. People buy a novel to be entertained
and if the author doesn't tell a good story and tell it well, he hasn't
done his job as a novelist. So whatever message you have, that you
want to get across, you better do it in a very subtle way so it doesn't
come across as a sermon or lecture.
"Nevertheless, in our selection of who our heroes and villains
are going to be, we inevitably tell something about ourselves and
our own values and our own ideas. If a writer doesn't want to reveal
a lot of who he/she is, he'd better stay away from writing novels
because you're not going to write a very good novel unless you're
willing to reveal a good bit about who you are and what you believe
"As a matter of fact, unless you have some strong beliefs about
something, why do you want to write a novel anyway? If the novel isn't
about something that's important to you, it's a pretty shallow piece
of business isn't it?"
Strunk overlooking the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River
in Eastern Kentucky. Strunk is working on his next book
set in Kentucky and Washington, D. C. that will feature a
contemporary setting involving mountain people,
politics, city people, intrigue and drama.
Strunk teaches workshops at the
Florida Suncoast Writers Conference at USF, St.Petersburg,
and at Gail Provost's Writers Retreat Workshops.
Upcoming Book Signings
by Frank C. Strunk
a suspense thriller set in the Appalachian Mountains
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