Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Guest Post Alan Black-The Birth of His Ozark Mountain Series

Please welcome today Science Fiction turned historical fiction author Alan Black who is sharing with us today his very personal story of how his Ozark Mountain Series came into being.
Please enjoy his story then if the spirit hits you buy them! 


Many people have asked my why a science fiction writer would tackle a historical novel set in the 1920 Ozark Mountains. I will admit that on the surface, it does seem a bit odd, especially since I was never a 12 year old girl, like my heroine. 
How An Ozark Mountain Series came about is a hard story for me to tell, but my mother and co-author, Bernice Knight, was diagnosed with uterine cancer and was scheduled to go into chemo and radiation therapy. Like most humans, Mom was a three part person: body, mind and spirit. My older brother Steve, my wife Duann and I were determined to help in any way we could. Steve took the body challenge, running errands, and driving Mom to the doctor, her treatments, and emergency room visits. Duann took the spiritual side, reading and sharing biblical scripture on healing and wholeness. Steve and Duann decided that I should help with her mind. Mom’s oncologist said that people do better at therapy when they have something to get up for, a task to occupy their minds other than the cancer and a reason to get out of bed every day. Since I was already a writer, I would co-write a book with her. Craaaaaap!


Mom always wanted to write about her experiences growing up in extreme poverty and the challenges she met and overcame. Eeeewwww! I have been listening to those stories over and over and over again ever since I grew ears and frankly, she couldn’t string two sentences together for a decent tale if a free meal and a cold beer were on the line. So, we determined it was best to take a lot of her little short memories and combine them into a fictionalized cohesive unit. Mom jumped in with enthusiasm, writing page after page of stories, descriptions, locations and personalities. I set about attempting to fictionalize her writings, mostly to add structure and a sense of overall story arc. But, also to hide where the real people, family or not, were involved.

The book was much easier to write than I imagined as Mom’s enthusiasm for the process grew. I became more excited about this project as it took shape, although I did learn some things about Mom that I really did not want to know. It does seem that she had held back a few details in her life’s history that she hadn’t shared with a six year old, but would now share with someone ten times that age. Her’s had been a rough life, as witnessed by her story of the potato and the rat that starts the book, but her life was much harder than I imagined: hand-to-mouth survival, rape, murder and theft.  

The end result was The Friendship Stones. However, when we finished this fine and exciting novel, Mom was still in treatments. Plus, true to Mom’s nature, she had more to say. Believe me, Mom always had more to say. So we wrote book two, The Granite Heart.

Mom was told she was cancer free halfway through the next book and we finished The Heaviest Rock with a sense of joy and accomplishment, completing a trilogy. But, was Mom done? Noooooo! She wanted to go to 1925 and tell her stories, not as a young girl, but what happened to her as a teenager. More craaaaaaap! It was hard enough to hear her childhood tales, but her teen years? Double craaaaaap! Still, she wanted another complete trilogy and we laid out notes and an extensive outline for another story arc. Again, I heard more about Moms growing up that I wanted to know, certainly things that I still can’t share with my siblings, but most of which we managed to figure out ways to fictionalize and blend it with real fiction so the family shouldn’t be able to tell which was real and which was not.

Mom was diagnosed with stomach, liver and intestine cancer halfway through The Inconvenient Pebble and she was gone before we completed book four. I managed to finish the second trilogy with The Jasper’s Courage (five) and The King’s Rock (six) from our notes and outlines. While the second trilogy awaits publication, Mom was laid to rest, back in her beloved Ozark Mountains, next to her parents. I am proud of these two trilogies, not just as a memorial to Mom’s life, but that they are a clear offering of how hard a person’s life can be, yet how successful and triumphant they can be if they set a standard for right and wrong, follow that path and tenaciously adhere to their goals and dreams.

The Friendship Stones:
LillieBeth Hazkit is thrust into an adult world of evil and of evil men, she has to grow up much too fast, learning of love, of tribulation and of facing her demons with fire, fury, anger, and blossoming maturity. 
Growing up in the Ozarks in 1920, she loves everyone and in her twelve years of wisdom believes all people are endowed with love and kindness. Her daddy gets home only on weekends, so she and her mama take care of their small, rented farm. She has become very adept with her precious .22 rifle helping Mama put meat on the table. 
She feels compelled to obey the command to love our neighbors, a scripture she learned at her little country church and school house. It comes as an immense shock when she learns the friendless, crazy old man down the road does not want to be her friend and it becomes her mission to convince him that she loves him and wants to be a good neighbor.

The Granite Heart:
In the Ozarks in 1920 Susanne Harbowe is shamefully and suddenly ripped from her life as a schoolteacher. She did nothing wrong that justified being fired from her job, evicted from her home and shunned by people she thought were friends. In desperation she joins forces with her young friend, LillieBeth Hazkit. 
Susanne and LillieBeth track down the men responsible for ruining Susanne’s life. While she struggles to keep up with her friend’s youthful spirit and undaunting courage she wonders if she will end up in a brothel with nowhere else to go. LillieBeth’s audacity and determination lend strength to Susanne as she seeks to either reclaim her old life or build a new one. But first, they must bring the men who hurt her to justice.

The Heaviest Rock
Grace Grissom’s life is suddenly turned upside down. Her husband is brutally murdered and she finds out first hand that a widow in the 1920 Ozark Mountains has little to no legal standing. Two of her friends, LillieBeth Hazkit and Susanne Harbowe managed to track down two of the men responsible for Clayton’s murder. The rest of the killers are living free and clear in the mountains like nothing happened. No lawmen are seeking them out for the murder. 
She teams up with LillieBeth to track down the rest of this band of killers. Grace begins to wonder if she is leading the hunt or if LillieBeth is leading her. LillieBeth’s audacity and determination combine with Grace’s strength and ability in the search for these evil men, attempting to bring them justice when no other men will.

About the Author:
Alan Black is a #1 bestselling author on Amazon and Kindle for Metal Boxes, a young adult science fiction military action adventure. He has published eight novels, with seven still in print. Black is a self-published multi-genre writer. His main goal is to write story driven novels. His scifi novels are character and action driven rather than focused on science. His historical novels are story driven, not history lessons. His literary fiction is entertainment based.
Alan Black's vision statement: I want my readers amazed they missed sleep because they could not put down one of my books. I want my readers amazed I made them laugh on one page and cry on the next. I want to give my readers a pleasurable respite from the cares of the world for a few hours. I want to offer stories I would want to read.

Connect with Alan Black-Website-Facebook-Twitter-Goodreads
author of Chasing Harpo,Metal Boxes, Chewing Rocks, Steel Walls and Dirt Drops,The Friendship Stones, The Granite Heart, and The Heaviest Rock

Some of Alan's other novels
please visit his Amazon Author Page HERE to purchase any of the novels

Today's GoneReading item is
inspired by Mark Twain staying
with the Ozark theme Click HERE

To see all the Mark Twain inspired gifts.


  1. I actually love it when authors write outside of their genre, it is so fascinating to me because I can understand how very hard it must be for them. Great guest post, very insightful!

    1. Thanks for your comment Kindlemom, I'm looking forward to this series :)

    2. Kindlemom, believe me, I did not find it as hard to switch genres as I thought it would be, especially with Mom holding the reins. I still wanted to have aliens come down and just abduct them all, but she wouldn't let me.

    3. Alan I'm picturing in my head Aliens arriving in the Ozark Mountains in the 1920s, hmmm they may have mistaken them for the "government" ;)

    4. I still have relatives living in the Ozarks. I can guarantee they would rather have aliens visit than government. Yes, I still have relatives who run their own moonshine still.

  2. OMG! What a story! The way these books came to be, and imaging the amazing journey you must have gone trough while writing them have me more than curious about your books. I'm looking forward to reading them.
    Great post!

    1. Loupe, thank you for your kind words. Finding out about our parent's lives is a project that every child should undertake with their parents before it is too late. I only wish I could get Dad to open up about his WW2 experiences in France, Germany and the underprepared military hospitals of 1945. Not as a book, but as a piece of family history that tells me why my father turned out to be the man that he is.

  3. Wow incredible, and I think it is wonderful how it happened.

    1. Kimbacaffeinate, thanks for the feedback. Writing these novels was certainly the cap on the life of a wonderful woman. She would have enjoyed the success these books are having.

  4. What an amazing family yall have Alan and what a project! Totally made me tear up. I'm so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful thing to have though in the end to remember your mother by and what an incredible bonding experience (even with the things that make ya shudder lol)

    1. I know Anna, very inspirational. Thanks for the comment!

    2. Anna, Thank you. It is hard to think of my family as amazing, maybe because I am so close that I can see all of the pimples and wrinkles. But, like everyone's families, there are some good and some bad. One of my favorites was Great Aunt Magnolia Black who ran a brothel in Winfield Kansas in the early 1800s. I will leave it up to you whether that was good or bad.