My Kansas author for this month of September, 2009, is Errol Wayne Anderson,Errol Wayne Anderson The Job Coach
and the book is The Job Coach.
I didn't know Errol until recently. As his biography in the back of the book tells us, he grew up in Kansas, but then worked most of his life in the graphic arts industry, starting out operating printing presses and ending up experienced in hands-on printing and the supervising of printing--a master printer. He pursued his interest in writing while still printing, until, in 1999 he decided to take an early retirement, moving back to the Flint Hills, in good part to have more time to write. He thought he really wanted to retire, but, like so many of us, within a few months started looking for a part time job to occupy his time. He saw an ad in the newspaper from one of the local school districts, and applied for a job as a "Para." As he describes it:
You've heard of Para-Medics and Para-Legals? Well, there are also Para-Educators. When they saw I had a good deal of experience in supervision and training, they asked if I would like to be a job coach in Special Ed. My first question was, "What's a job coach?" What an experience! The next seven years were some of the grandest years of my working career as I worked with my Special Ed. Students.
It wasn’t long before I realized there was a story to be written here. When you take Special Ed. Students out into the real world and help them to work for a supervisor and with fellow workers, some crazy, strange, wonderful and sometimes not-so-wonderful things happen. I gave my experiences to Amanda Snow, the protagonist in The Job Coach. I had to change so many aspects concerning my students so as not to identify any of them that I decided to call The Job Coach a novel. I did that for two reasons: first, because I would never identify my kids, and second, because—if I did—I would probably go to jail. It is unlawful to identify Special Ed Students. Since it was going to be a novel, I decided to add the mystery feature.
Since I have a rather long history in printing and publishing, once The Job Coach was ready to be published, I decided to publish it myself. I hope you enjoy reading it, because it’s impossible to tell you how much I enjoyed writing it.
So that was the work experience that Errol's novel came out of, which, I would say, gives it its primary strength. You get to know Amanda's students as she does (he has an excerpt telling how Amanda came to know her most difficult student, "Neta-Rose, Snow-Angels and Ducks," on his web-site, which is an excellent example)--and you hope for them to succeed.
He established the Golden City Publishing Company the first week of 2004 here in Topeka, its first task to publish 1300 copies of the The Job Coach. Then he personally got out and sold those books, not only in libraries and bookstores, but coffee shops, grocery stores, shopping malls, and, if it could be arranged, meet-in-the-streets book signings (even into the neighboring states). Anyone who has tried that knows how difficult it is--but that edition is sold out. To quote Errol again, "a new and improved" second edition will soon be published, and there are plans to market it through "large and mid-size corporations nationwide . . . at a considerable savings for bulk purchases."
I got to know Errol pretty well when, in the process of promoting his book, he became very active in District 1 of the Kansas Authors Club (based here in Topeka), so active that he was elected District 1 president--just in time to be in charge of the annual state convention, which will take place in Topeka next month--so everyone in the group has come to know him well.
But I got to know Errol best when both of us were working with Esther Luttrell learning how to turn a novel into a complete film script (holding it to about 120 pages, so it would make a two-hour movie). He did a nice job with that, so that a few months ago I was one of the readers at a public reading of his script.
As Errol said above, he turned the exciting experience of working as a job coach over a period of years into a novel (to protect the names of his students). While you can learn a lot about that experience, and its importance from The Job Coach, the book is definitely a novel, opening with an incident in which the heroine, Amanda Snow, quits her job working for a printing firm because of flagrant sexual harassment, and takes steps to sue her guilty boss. She lives with a grandfather who has been her main support, but who, since he is beginning to suffer from loss of memory through the Sundown Syndrome, gradually turns her into the responsible adult. She has fallen in love with Bill Jasco, a private detective, and their love is tested variously. Amanda is kidnapped by men who mean to kill her, so Bill must undertake to rescue her--and I'll leave it for you to find out how and by whom she is rescued in the surprise ending of the book. Through all of this the author uses the devices of conflict and suspense of the novel to hold your attention--with a crisis in almost every chapter.
I'm still trying to catch up with him in the adaptation of novel to script (which, again, is not easy). He is trying to sell his completed script now, and that experience has involved him in revising both the novel and the projected film. I think he has a nice project going, and I wish him well.
If you want more information, go to his earlier website: goldencitybooks.com, or the new web site he is just developing to bring things up to date. Or you can write to him at:
Golden City Publishing
116 NW Knox Ave.
Topeka, KS 66606-1338
Phone: (785) 232-3853