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The Lookout | April 12, 2021

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Professor Vaughn Vowels pens new book to help grief-stricken readers

Professor Vaughn Vowels pens new book to help grief-stricken readers

Jeremy Kohn
Editor in Chief

Some authors use inspiration from their lives to build the characters for the worlds they create. LCC professor Vaughn Vowels, 59, did this to write his book, “A Fall in Bark River.”

The book, published this past August, was more than two decades in the making. It follows the life of 15-year-old boy Gabriel Lee (a reflection of a young Vowels) and how he deals with growing up without a father.

Lee ends up learning some troubling family secrets that have a major impact on the family and the boy’s life.

The first-time author talked about the people for whom the book was intended.

“I wrote it for people that were grieving, that’s why I originally started it,” Vowels said. “But it was also very cathartic for me … It was the loss of my father as a child that inspired the book.”

Vowels gave the advice of using one’s own voice when writing.

“I did make a mistake … I was reading some of the masters when I was writing it … Faulkner, Hemmingway and Fitzgerald,” Vowels said. “Don’t do that if you are going to write a book … don’t read the best.”

Vowels said ideas for his story were constantly running around in his head.

“I would be mowing the lawn and got dialogue going on in my head and I would have to shut off the lawn mower and go in and write it down,” Vowels said.

Vowels said LCC alumnus and former Associate Editor of The Lookout David Barker helped him immensely with his writing.

“He really helped me with content,” Vowels said.  “He told me to not tell people how they feel, but write a description so they get pulled into their own feelings.”

Said Barker: “When I first read Vaughn’s manuscript I was surprised how easy it was to read. A lot of books can be difficult to read in their unpolished states, but his had a certain natural pace that kept the story going.

“He did a great job capturing certain moments and had a knack for finding tension in personal interactions. Also, talking to him during the editing helped me understand how his past experiences informed his approach to the book.”

Vowels gave a copy of the book to Elle’s Place, a center for those who have suffered losses in their life. Vowels said the experience of sharing his book with Elle’s Place was an emotional one, and made him feel as if he had come full circle.

Vowels, who has been working on the book since 1993, said the process of writing was sometimes difficult.

“I had about 10,000 words (in 1993) and stopped.” Vowels said. “Then in 2008, I had a major event happen and I had more clarity … I’m glad that I waited, because there is a lot in here that I really didn’t understand until 08.”

Vowels said that writing the book was very emotional and therapeutic at the same time.

“It has been about 48 years since my father passed and yet in retrospect and seeing how it has went in this culmination of this book. It is nothing you ever completely recover from, but it certainly has its benefits.” Vowels said.

Vowels is currently working on a follow-up to “A Fall in Bark River.”

“It’s going to be a little different … it has a little bit of sci-fi in it,” Vowels said.

The book will deal with the same characters, only this time the community is divided over if an alien abduction actually occurred In Bark River.

Vowels will have his first book signing in The Gannon Building for “A Fall in Bark River,” on Thursday, Dec. 3 from 3 to 5 p.m.