I’d like to introduce you to the ninety-eighth interviewee in my ‘Meet the Author’ series. He is Wayne Anderson.
Hi, Wayne! Welcome to Susan Finlay Writes blog site. Can you tell us a bit about your background as a writer?
I had taken some writing workshops before I retired in 1995 as an Emeritis Professor of Psychology from MU hoping to become a science fiction author. That did not develop. Instead in 1995 I joined the International Center for Psychosocial Trauma that had teams going into trauma zones such as Bosnia and Palestine and training teachers, physicians and mental health workers to work with traumatized children. The Columbia Daily Tribune began to publish my reports in the Perspectives section of the Sunday paper. These reports are available on psytrauma.com or in the Tribune archives.
You wrote two nonfiction books about travel–Travels Into Our Past: America’s Living Historical Museums & Historical Sites and Offbeat Travel: Exploring the Unexpected and Mysterious–both published by AKA-Publishing. Can you tell us about those books? Did you write them while you were traveling, or did you keep travel journals ? What inspired you to write them?
For many years before email and facebook I wrote long detailed letters to my sister and my four daughters about my adventures on my travels. In 1998 someone suggested I show my letter on a safari in Africa to the travel editor of the Tribune. She was delighted with the story and gave it two pages of what is now the Pulse section of the paper. Soon after that I became a regular columnist.
I keep careful travel journals, written the evening of an event. If I don’t do that, so much usually happens the next day that I will forget important details. Because I know the story will be in print, I interview people involved in the event or museum for inside information. Sometimes since I am writing about them, this entitles me to a backstage look.
Having written a weekly column for almost 16 years, I have close to 800 stories that fall into categories, such as living history museums. I have at least three other possible collections besides the ones already published. My columns on native American sites and Presidential museums are available on venturebound.net.
You also wrote a historical novel, Christina’s Saga: From Norway to Dakota Territory, that was published by AKA-Publishing in December 2010. Your website says it’s a fictionalized story of your immigrant grandmother’s life. How much research was required? How did you research for the story?
That is one of those emotional must do’s. For years I had heard stories about my grandmother, whom I had never met, about how her father and brother had died in a fishing accident off the north coast of Norway and how she came to the Dakotas at age 18 in 1880. When she couldn’t get along well with her married sister who had arrived earlier, my grandmother became one of the first women to be a homesteader.
Some citizens of Hamlin County, South Dakota, had collected stories of the early settlers, including maps of who had homesteaded next to whom and published a large volume. When I visited the area of the homestead , the editor had one remaining extra copy that he gave me. This told me about her neighbors and their struggles to make it here in America complete with old pictures of some of the people and places.
I then started building a library of books of diaries, journals and letters of pioneer women to get a feel for what life was like during this period. Each chapter is based on a real event with dialogue and actions created by me. I’ve had very positive feedback from women’s book groups that have read it as their choice of the month. I still get highly emotional when I read certain chapters, such as the one when I have too let my great grandfather die in a storm when he is out fishing.
Later I wrote a non-fiction book about my father’s side of the family who came to America when he was eight; over time a large tribe developed. I had collected stories about that side also and after a trip to Sweden for a family reunion with my Swedish cousins, I wrote Our Swedish Roots. I had 350 copies printed and sent them off to all the offspring of the original immigrants.
Perhaps your most intriguing book, The Changing Face of Sex, was published by AKA-Publishing in 2012. Can you tell us about the book? How did this book come about?
In 1970 it dawned on me that as a counselor, I had been working with clients on many sexual problems: rape, rejection of homosexuals, pregnancy, child sexual abuse and general lack of knowledge even among college students. I began to offer the large (350 students) undergraduate class and later the graduate course on therapy involving sexual problems. I did not stop teaching this latter course when I retired, but have continued to teach a 20 student honors class in the fall semester. I require a lot of writing from the students, and over the years the feedback as to what is happening in the real world has changed drastically. I put the book together based on these experiences. Some sample chapters are: Homosexuals and the Fight for Recognition at UMC, Rape Victims, Getting beyond the Guilt, The Love Dance, Finding the One.
How much involvement do you have in the creation of your books’ covers?
I turn in a sample cover with the book. My publisher always changes it to something better.
Are you working on a new book? If so, can you tell us about it?
My latest book came as surprise to me. For years I had written letters to my family especially my oldest daughter who was married to an army officer and the next oldest who was an officer. Both lived for years in Europe or away from Columbia, and I had lived in Europe or was traveling to strange places around the world and writing to them about it. My oldest daughter had kept the letters in a scrapbook that she gave me a copy of one Father’s Day. I had a very emotional response reading about my adventures, some of which I had forgotten. My publisher agreed to turn it into a book that will be out shortly.
Her intention is turn all of my work into e-books to be sold as some minimum price, like $3.99.
You are a retired college professor. Do you miss teaching? Are you still involved with the university?
I had no trouble giving up doing therapy, but I couldn’t give up teaching so I continue to teach an honors human sexuality course at MU. Since 2004 I have taught a variety of courses for OSHER, an adult learning program. I will probably stop teaching the honors course, but I will continue the OSHER course. For 12 years after retirement I also taught graduate courses on crisis intervention for the Criminal Justice Program at Columbia College.
As a retired Psychology professor you have a great knowledge of people. That knowledge would be extremely helpful when writing novels. Do you have any plans to write more fiction? If so, what kind?
Except for Christina, fiction does not seem to be my thing. I’ve tried mystery and science fiction, but feedback has not been very encouraging.
Have you written any Psychology books, or do you plan to write any?
That phase of my life is long past, but three of my professional books are still available: MMPI & MMPI-2, Interpretation Manual for Counselors and Clinicians; Bulimia; and Stress Management for Law Enforcement Officers.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
First, get a good editor. My wife, who was an English teacher before she became a psychologist, spends considerable time making sure my work meets high standards. Second, attend writers workshops, at least in the beginning. The best I have attended were summer sessions at the University of Iowa and Aspen, Colorado. In Aspen I was lucky enough to get a two-week program with Jane Smiley as my major instructor.
What is your favorite or least favorite part of writing?
Partly it’s an ego thing. I love it when people recognize me as the author of my Venture Bound column in the Tribune. Partly it’s the pressure it puts on me to keep learning new things and talking to people about their lives and their work. I really don’t have a least favorite part.
You obviously do a lot of research for your books. What do you like best and least about the research? Do you have any tips for other authors about doing research?
Research has certainly gotten easier since I started writing in 1995. Fact checking is so easy now with Google and other search engines available. My main research, however, continues to be going to the site, spending time there and talking to both the staff and other visitors to get a feel for what I am going to write about.
Please list any websites or social media links for yourself or your books. Thanks!
Columbia Daily Tribune archives
amazon.com wayne p. anderson