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Interview With Rick Algood

I am so excited to present this interview on my blog. Though I have lived in various states, I was born in Mississippi, and I ultimately returned to my home state. I love being a Mississippian. Mississippi is entrenched in history, and our citizens are some of the most loyal and compassionate people in the entire world.
Rick is a down-to-earth, self-proclaimed family man, and he is a true southerner.
Without further ado, let me present my interview with Rick Algood. Rick was born and reared in Mississippi, and his books are “must reads”for all southerners.
You can contact Rick at algoodpublishing@gmail.com to order book or you can order them directly from him at the following address:
Algood Publishing,Inc. PO Box 322 West Paducah, KY 42086-0322
They are $15.95 plus$3.00 when shipped via media mail.
For those readers who are not familiar with your background, can you give us an overview of you?
I was a child of the 50s and 60s when I grew up on a cotton farm just west of Louisville, Mississippi. I graduated from high school in 1970 and spent two years at The University of Southern Mississippi studying commercial art. When my parents became ill I moved home to take care of them and spent my third year of college at Mississippi State studying communication and journalism. While attending State I was commuting back and forth while holding down three jobs, plus trying to help out on the family farm. I came to the conclusion it was either work or school. I couldn’t do both. So at the end of my third year of college I quit and hit the road working for construction companies. After a few years, I fell in love and married the girl of my dreams in 1975. In 1978, we moved to Western Kentucky where I began my 34-year career in a paper mill.
I know that you’ve written multiple books. Can you briefly describe your books?
Actually, I’ve written six. One I have yet to publish. The first was titled Beyond the Cotton Fields. It was a book I wrote for my daughters to let them know more about my life growing up in Mississippi. I had over 200 copies printed and gave away nearly all of them to friends and relatives. The response was overwhelming. I received letters from all over the country encouraging me to keep writing. Thus began my fiction endear.
I had always wanted to write fiction. The 100th anniversary of a young lady’s murder gave me the idea for my first book, Where Angels Weep. I know of only two people that knew who the actual killer was, and both took the secret to their graves. One shared with me enough information that I thought it would make a great book. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was the beginning of a series of books I have called The Angel Series.
Here is a brief synopsis of the four books in the series:
Where Angels Weep. This book was inspiredby a century old murder that happened near where I grew up in Winston County, Mississippi. The story is one of mystery, inspiration, and hope.Kentuckian, Michael Dawson, stumbles upon a clue from his late Mississippi uncle that reveals how to solve the murder of Jenny Martin. It is a tale that will hold you spellbound, make you laugh and inspire you as you discover people can rise above the chains that bind them.
Second in the series is An Angel With No Name. This book takes the reader in another direction as Michael Dawson follows the clues sent to him by his late uncle and tries to discover who killed Jenny Martin in 1918. It too is a story of mystery, love, and inspiration chronicling the lives of a Mississippi family you will love.
Third in the series: The Midnight Angel. This story makes you fall even further in love with the unusual decedents of the Bodel and McAlister families as one of their presumably dead relatives tries to flee from a mobster, Big Benny Fontina. Forgiveness, humor, and love can be found in the most unexpected places as this story unfolds.
Fourth in the series is The Christmas Angels. An older couple finds themselves with an orphaned boy and his dog. Young Bobby Barrtow’s distant relatives are dangerous and unsavory. Will Jim and Mary Ann McAlister be able to adopt the child they fall in love with? Are there such things as Christmas Angels? This Mississippi family and their neighbors who live on Whippoorwill Ridge will keep you turning the pages as you discover there really are angels among us.
What’s your inspiration for writing?
That is a tough question. I don’t begin a story knowing ho wit will unfold. It all happens when something inside of me compels me to sit at the keyboard and begin punching keys. I have a general idea what I am supposed to write about when I sit down, but the story unfolds and reveals itself on the screen in front of me. I’m as surprised as the readers are when the book is finished. As for inspiring, I’d have to say the area of the country where Grew up inspires me. History inspires me, Hope inspires me. The little man no one notices that goes to work every day, inking out a living for his family inspires me.
What’s your writing process like?
When I  begin a story, I commit to writing at least five pages a day. If I’m on a roll I keep writing. Oftentimes I lose all track of time when I’m at the keyboard. My wife has to remind me when it is time to eat, take a break, or go to bed. I get lost in the story.
Do you think writing is an inherent or learned talent?
Both. First comes inherent. A writer must have a passion to share a story. Then one learns the mechanics of telling his story on paper in such a way the reader will enjoy it. It is a learning and growing experience.
What advice would you give to unpublished writers who want to publish a book or story?
I’m the wrong person to be asked that question. I have yet to contact a publisher, though I would like to. With all the brick and mortar stores going out of business these days, and my career in the paper industry, I’m committed to using paper. I like to hold a book in my hands. I became my own publisher so my books will be printed on paper. Maybe someday I will go the route of and agent or a traditional publisher. I don’t like the publishing part of the business. But my goal is to share my stories and I would be afraid a traditional publisher would take my work and sit on it. I’ve heard horror stories of folks who have worked long and hard on something, send it to a publisher and then it never sees the light of day.
The best advice I can offer is do something! Doing anything is better than just wishing something would happen. You have to stick your neck out once-in-a-while.
You grew up in Mississippi. Mississippi has traditionally earned a reputation for racism and discrimination. In Mississippi, we have made great strides to change this global impression. Do you think Mississippi’s reputation is improving? Can you tell us a little bit about how you think we are evolving as a state?
Mississippi is not the only state with a past. The past is what it is. Racism is a learned characteristic. It can only be held on to by those who let it dwell in their hearts.
When I read about old murder cases such as the three civil rights workers found buried in a dam, Medgar Evers and Emmett Till finding closure it gives me hope that old hatreds and prejudices are fading.Times have changed not only for the state I call home, but many others, too. I don’t think it will ever be a perfect world, but it is a whole lot better now than it was when I was younger. Only when men see each other with their hearts instead of their eyes will racism ever disappear.
You say in another interview that “It was a difficult book to write because I literally poured my soul out on paper.” I think that is true of most authors. As an author, how difficult is it to bear your soul? In the end, was it worth it? Did you find that it was cathartic? What do you say to other authors who are hesitant to pour their souls out on paper, in fear of criticism?
You are referring to Beyond the Cotton Fields, my memoir. There were moments of sheer joy and moments of deep sorrow writing that book. It was definitely and emotional experience putting some of the stories down on paper. Even when I reread passages from that book, it is hard not to get emotional.
I suspect other authors who write similar memoirs have those same feelings. Was it difficult, you ask? Not really. I am the kind of person that what you see is what I am. I don’t have any skeletons in my closet. If I hadn’t written that book the way it was written it would have been milk-toast, and my daughters wouldn’t have known any more about me or my past than they already did.
Was it worth it? Oh, yeah. When the three girls read it and said that they loved it because it was it was like I was sitting beside them telling them all those stories about myself, the times I grew up in and the people that touched my life, I knew I had succeeded in writing the book I wanted them to have.
Cathartic? Possibly, in the sense I had finally accomplished what I had set out to do. Personally, not so much. I am what I am. I accepted that a long, long time ago. We’re all unique, are we not?
Would I advise other writers to do the same? Absolutely! We’re all human. Most folks can empathize with what others have gone through. Sometimes it’s good to know you aren’t alone. I received a lot of mail from readers of that book thanking me for putting it all down for the next generations. Many of those letters came from folks who were not sent a copy of the book. A lot of people read it and passed it along to friends and relatives. I hesitate to guess how many letters I received from various states. It was overwhelming. I heard from people in their 20s and people over 100.
What is one of your favorite memories of growing up in Mississippi?
Just one! That’s not fair. If I’m limited to one, I’d have to say growing up on the farm and all the people who worked there. You asked a question earlier about racism. When I was little, I didn’t know what racism was. I loved playing, fishing, hunting, and working with the people on the farm.
Fall and cotton picking time sticks out most vividly in my mind. I loved it at the end of the day when the sun was setting low in the sky and the cotton wagon pulled into the field. Workers would gather around the scales at the end of a long, hard day and rejoice when they saw their labor pulling down on the cotton scale. There would be friendly banter and laughing as they climbed onto the wagon and emptied their sacks. We would all lie back in the freshly picked cotton and stare up, watching the stars come out one by one in the night sky overhead as the tractor pulled us back home.
Some would be talking about what they were going to cook for supper. Others were softly humming or singing, while still others lay back in silence, worn out from picking all day. It was back breaking work.
I’ll never forget the mixture of smells. Sweat combined with freshly picked cotton. I loved it, strange as it sounds. Every year about this time,I can sit quietly, close my eyes and go back to those moments. I cherish those memories, though I would hate to repeat them. It was a different time, a different place. Sometimes the memories of our past are better being just that.Memories.
What universal messages do you want to convey in your writing?
Everyone has a past. Everyone has a future. Get off your tail and do something! Life is only as good as you make it, no matter what situation you find yourself in.
You live in Kentucky now, which is still the South. Do you consider yourself a true Southerner? To you, what does it mean to be a Southerner?
Of course, I’m a Southerner! I don’t consider Kentucky as one of the Deep South states. –Not much cotton was grown here. But you can take someone out of the South and put them anywhere in the world, and they will still be a Southerner. It’s in our blood.
If opposites attract, my wife and I are a good example of that. She was born in New York. We’ve been married thirty-seven years, and there is no way you’ll ever convince her that I am not a Southerner. My daughters were born here in Kentucky, and I’m certain they consider themselves Southerners to a degree. But they never lived in the Deep South, so I would beg to differ.
Then again, I think true Southerners are a dying breed. What with all the new technology, Internet, cell phones, and Wi-Fi, regional borderlines are vanishing. If you think about it, I’m sure you will agree that in another generation or two we Southerners will be like the dinosaurs. We’llbe extinct.
Are you working on any new projects?
My wall is covered with posted notes at the moment. I have a couple ideas haunting me. When that little voice inside tells me to sit down at the keyboard, there will be another book. I think I’ve been hearing it trying to get my attention for a few weeks now. Perhaps it’s time to listen to it.
You can contact Rick at algoodpublishing@gmail.com to order book or you can order them directly from him at the following address:
Algood Publishing,Inc. PO Box 322 West Paducah, KY 42086-0322
They are $15.95 plus $3.00 when shipped via media mail.
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