Genre: Journalism / Memoir
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Author Interview with Bob Horton
How has being a Texan influenced your writing?
Being raised by and among plain-talking Texas farm folks left me inclined to express myself in a simple, sometimes quite blunt manner. Texans pride themselves in being independent and can be strongly opinionated. I tend to be that way as well, a trait that may be detected in my writing.
Where did your love of storytelling and reading come from?
Neither of my parents had a high school education. They grew up in the Depression and when work often disrupted schooling. I recall my mother reading stories aloud to help me nap. My father would come in from the fields for the noon meal and later read from the Bible as my brother and I lay listening on the floor. Relatives, especially my grandfathers and uncles, were lively talkers and story-tellers.
How long have you been writing?
All told, some 50 years of professional news writing. I began working part-time for a newspaper while a freshman in college. That led to careers spanning years with a second newspaper, two wire services, a news magazine, a syndicated news service, and a radio news operation. Over the years I spent months of my spare time striving to write a decent novel (three completed but unpublished).
What kind(s) of writing do you do?
I’ve done all kinds, including the standard type of news at the local level, but also eventually high-level political, legislative, military, diplomatic … I was a reporter in Washington, D.C. for almost a quarter-century; I covered the Pentagon, Congress, State Department, White House and various other federal departments and agencies.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Striving to avoid sentimentality. I had experienced intensely emotional moments and situations as a reporter but I wanted to describe those times with a goodly degree of aloofness. I also sought not to sound self-aggrandizing, even though I had to “drop names” in recounting a career which had me associating with people of prominence. I was known to such people not by virtue of my personality or talent but because of my connection to major media outlets.
How does Of Bulletins and Booze relate to your spiritual practice or other life path?
This book is about recovery from an addiction. Adhering to the twelve-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous helped direct me into a life style focusing on total abstinence from alcohol. I had found that I could not do this alone; the program stressed my need for “a power greater than myself,” sometimes referred to as “a God of my understanding.” While AA is not a religious program, there is strong emphasis on the need for an alcoholic to have a “spiritual awakening” about the reality and nature of his illness (the American Medical Association labels alcoholism as a disease). Decades ago, a doctor prominent in the field of alcoholic treatment wrote in the first publication of AA’s “big book” of recovery principles that he was convinced that chronic alcoholics could only be helped by a “psychic change.” AA members came to speak of this psychic change as a “God consciousness.” The principles underlying the twelve-step program have steadily nurtured my spiritual growth.
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