Local author Joe Brown recently released three new books, making a total of 29 he has written so far. Brown is a Yadkin County native who began writing in 2005, following retirement from the manufacturing company he operated in Greensboro for 38 years.
Brown said he always wanted to be a writer, but never had the time while he was working.
“I started writing because I wanted my kids and grandkids to know how things used to be in the 1940s and ’50s growing up on a farm,” he said. The first two books Brown wrote are about his life growing up on his family farm in Yadkin County.
The new book series is described as an historical adventure and is set in nearby Wilkes County. The story begins during the Revolutionary War and chronicles the lives of two best friends, Dean and Jake. The character Dean King is based on Brown’s lifelong friend Archie Dean King.
“He was my best friend growing up in school in real life,” Brown explained.
King’s name has appeared in previous books Brown has written about his childhood, but this is the first time he appears as a fictional character in a novel.
King said he “reckoned it was all right” to be a character in a book as he recalled growing up with Brown.
“We went through school together, played sports together and all,” King said. “During high school we’d help each other priming tobacco.”
Brown and King both enjoy history, especially local history. Jake Myers, the main character of the novels, Brown said is based on himself.
“I’ve always loved history and liked the Revolutionary War era,” he said. “I always wanted to live in that time period and so by way of the books I can.”
The first book, “The Promise,” begins just before the Revolutionary War and follows Jake and Dean as they fight in the patriot army.
“When the characters went off to war, they made a promise to come home and marry their sweethearts,” Brown explained.
The story continues to follow the lives of these two friends after the war in the books entitled “Moravian Falls” and “Wilkes County.”
Brown credits his former English teacher Helen Wishon for instilling in him a love of reading and writing.
“She was the first person who made me stand up and do a book a report,” Brown said. “I dreaded it, but she encouraged me and that’s why I like to encourage kids to read and write.”
Brown frequently speaks to area students about reading and writing and has donated books to school libraries. At East Bend Elementary School, each class is eligible to win one of Brown’s books by turning in a book report or project.
In January, he spoke to the third-grade classes at East Bend Elementary School and was a big hit with the students, said third-grade teacher, Johnna Pettit.
“It was wonderful,” Pettit said. “He kept their attention for quite a while and for third-graders, that’s pretty amazing. The kids were so excited and amazed at how many books he has written.”
Pettit’s pupils have been learning about writing all year and Brown showed the students various drafts of his projects to teach them about an author’s editing process.
When he is not teaching local kids about reading and writing, he is coaching soccer at Bishop McGuinness in Winston-Salem. Brown also spends much of his time researching his family genealogy and material for future books he plans to write.
Brown said that 50 percent or more of the time he spends on his books is spent in research.
“But it is a lot of fun,” he said. “You hit deadend roads and don’t know which way to go and then you find another way.”
Sometimes Brown said he would work an hour a day on a book and some days it’s much more than that.
“One day I worked 15 hours because I had all this information in front of me and had to get it down while it was in my head.”
He is researching and writing another book about his family’s genealogy at the present.
Brown said, “I’ll just keep writing as long as I’m breathing.”
For more information about the new series and previous books by Joe Brown, visit his website at www.haystackpress.com.
Kitsey E. Burns may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.