Please welcome Russell Scott, author of The Hard Times!
Hey, hello, and howdy. I appreciate the chance to blog here on Luxury Reading, and have to say that the name represents the reality for most of us today. Reading and reading well is in fact one of the ultimate luxuries in the new millennium. With our busy schedules, increasing work loads, and the increasing prevalence of electronic entertainment options, it becomes harder and harder to sit down book in hand and give ourselves the luxury of spending time within our own minds.
I will admit that when I’m preparing for an interview (for our literary journal China Grove) and I’m reading the oeuvre of a writer like Ellen Gilchrist, Winston Groom, Pat Conroy, or Greg Iles where there are twenty or more books to read to get prepared, I can read quickly, and I do, well sometimes I do, even here I start to slow and let the words carry me. But when I read purely for myself, I love nothing better than reading exquisitely slowly, savoring the language and imagery the author presents. In a recent panel at the Mississippi Book Festival, Steve Yarbrough said of Mississippi authors that one of the most significant aspects of their appeal is their attention to language and the rhythm and flow of language and sound. I wholeheartedly agree–it’s part of who we are.
I think I’ve been able to achieve that in this new book, The Hard Times by my alter-ego Russell Scott. (Not too tricky a pen name really, I just dropped my patronym, Anderson.) It was written to be read or read aloud. I wanted it to be a story that could be read easily and understood by just about anyone, but I also wanted to give something extra to the careful reader, so there are deeper levels of meaning beyond the relatively straightforward story line, kind of like hiding the secret to life in a song.
I’ve been and done a lot of things over the years, Navy diver, physician, biophysicist, radiation oncologist, husband, father of seven…you get the picture, so, I was trying to give a bit more. Superficially the book is about a mid-life crisis, and diamond smuggling, but on a deeper level it is an exploration on the nature of how men love, and the complexities that bind and drive them to behave the way they do.
Ellen Gilchrist has always been one of my literary heroes, and in fact, I believe that her writing sets the standard for the modern short story. It was the culmination of a life dream to work with her to improve the flow and sense of connectedness and closure of this novel. She took the time to provide me with the guidance that I think renders this book, a luxury for the reader, a gem about gems, as it were.
I hope you take the time to have a look at it, perhaps check out our web site at www.Chinagrovepress.com. Thanks so much for your time.
The Hard Times is, first and foremost, a novel about how men love. It focuses not on simple lust nor affection, but the complex web of expectations, loyalty, duty, and desire that define the society of men, how they love women, how they love their families, and how they bind themselves to one another in friendship and in war.
Taken from the news, declassified CIA documents, and the author’s personal experiences in Africa and Namibia, it is a fictional story superimposed on what’s actually happening in the diamond trade, today, where international politics and industry, play a strange game of hide and seek with illegal stones.
It begins in Mississippi. Ray Moffett is an ER doc, and Ray is facing an abyss. When his best friend and former boss comes into the ER dead, just six weeks after his retirement party, Ray finds himself searching for meaning in his own life. All Ray has left is his work. Work, punctuated only by the occasional round of golf. That’s all he can see stretching between him and his own trip to the grave if something doesn’t change.
A chance meeting with an African hunting guide, Fritz Dietrich, shows Ray a second chance to live the adventures he’d dreamed of as a boy. Dreams that were fueled by books written by men like Hemmingway, Ruark, and Capstick. Unfortunately, Fritz isn’t exactly what he seems.
Ray finds himself hunting desert oryx in the Namib with Fritz, both men trapped. Fritz must kill Ray and use his papers to smuggle illegal diamonds. For Ray to get home alive, he’s going to have to kill Fritz and then, somehow find his way out of the most hostile desert on the face of the earth.
About the author
Russell Scott Anderson, M.D., is a radiation oncologist who serves as the medical director of Anderson Cancer Center in Meridian, Miss. He is a former Navy diver who worked in operations in the Middle East, Central America, and in support of the Navy’s EOD community, SEALS, the U.S. Army’s Green Berets, the Secret Service, and the New York Police Department at various times during his time in the service. The father of seven has written the family oriented literary columns Una Voce and The Uncommon Thread in the Journal of the Mississippi State Medical Association. He has also served the Journal as the chairman of the editorial advisory board. A collection of his columns was published as The Uncommon Thread in 2012. He has also written as screenwriter R.S. Anderson on several feature films, he is the author of the novels Time Donors Wanted and The Hard Times under the pseudonym Russell Scott, and is the editor of the literary journal China Grove.