Twelve Notables in Western North Carolina
by Hendersonville Author Jack J. Prather is a compelling collection of mini-biographies that capture the life and career journeys of exemplars from across the region who made their marks from anywhere in the state, nation or world. The Notables have succeeded in such diverse fields as law, faith, education, medical, military, non-profit, music, poetry, master crafts and art.
The comprehensive 400-page book recently released by Future Now Publishing features 134 photos of the Notables, and includes testimonials from such luminaries as ABC-TV’s Katie Couric, late traditional music legend Doc Watson, former NC Governor Jim Hunt, NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshal, former State Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Exum, and others.
The centerpiece of each biography is the Notable’s life-journey, as told to the author. Prather’s primary goal was to capture the ‘core essences’ of each subject through multiple personal interviews. Included in the bios are writings by and about the Notables, as well as their life chronologies.
The Twelve Notables
The Notables are Rev. Dr. Dan Matthews, priest at Ground Zero on 9/11 and owner of the Swag Inn in Waynesville; David Holt of Fairview, Grammy-winning musician, storyteller and PBS-TV Host; Dr. Doug Orr, President Emeritus of Warren Wilson College, musician and author, and Dr. Olson Huff, founding Medical Director of Mission Children’s Hospital and author, both of Black Mountain; Captain Ray West, USNR-ret. of Flat Rock, founder of the Moldova World Children’s Fund and the 2006 UNCA Rod Taylor Alumnus of the Year; and Glenis Redmond, formerly of Asheville, a Hall of Fame Performance Poet and Kennedy Center Teaching Artist.
Also, former North Carolina and Cherokee (EBCN) Supreme Court Justice Harry C. Martin of Asheville; Emergency Physician Pioneer Dr. Matt Hayes of Hendersonville; Southern Art painter in International Galleries Julyan Davis of Asheville; global public relations leader and PRSA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Joe Epley of Tryon; and the first woman NC Living Treasure and basket artist in the Smithsonian collection Billie Ruth Sudduth, and the 2011 NC Living Treasure and honored Fire Chief Richard Ritter, both of Bakersville.
The Idea: Jack J. Prather’s initial idea for his sixth book was to identify a suitable subject from his home region of Western North Carolina for a biography, which seemed a natural writing progression after he penned two strategic public relations guidebooks, an issue-based book of poetry & prose, and two mystery-thriller novels over the past quarter-century. But as the well-known saying goes: “The best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray.” Well not really, though his original plan for one bio grew into a collection of twelve about Notables who reside in Western North Carolina. And despite the inherent complexities, he characterizes his intense year-long writing journey as not only fulfilling, but a true joy.
The Vision: The primary vision for the book was to capture the ‘core essences’ of the twelve Notables in comprehensive condensed biographies with photo arrays that would serve as indelible legacies for their families, friends and associates, as well as for readers throughout the state and beyond.
The Theory: The theory of the book was to first inform readers about each Notable through testimonials, highlights from their lives and careers, and excerpts from writings by and about them, and then to present the centerpiece: their life-journeys as told to the author in multiple taped interviews. Each biography ends with factual chronologies of their lives; for the artists, examples of their crafts and paintings captured in vivid photos; and for the poet, samples of her original poetry writings. Websites are included for those wishing further information.
Selecting Twelve Notables: Intensive research revealed that Western North Carolina is home to a virtual treasure-trove of living Notables! That search, plus recommendations from such credible sources as the North Carolina Bar Association, the NC Arts Council, and the head of a college alumni association, led to the twelve exemplars selected for this book. In fact, so many deserving subjects were uncovered that this unique collection of biographies may serve as the template for a sequel.
Serendipity: As the project unfolded, the universe seemed to connect in mind-bending ways, but the author attributes this to serendipitous coincidences rather than mythical explanations (‘serendipity’ is carved on the wooden sign beside his Hendersonville home). Prather writes about these coincidences in the prologue.
Young Writers Scholarship: In April, Prather founded the Young Writers Scholarship at Warren Wilson College, and is dedicating a portion of the proceeds from his books to that fund, and asking fellow authors, writers and avid readers to do the same. Further information about Twelve Notables in Western North Carolina and the Young Writers Scholarship is available at www.futurenowpublishing.com