Hartselle native pens first fictional work
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Hartselle Native Dr. Ray N. Howell III has reached a pinnacle in his ministerial and writing career with the publication of his first full-length fictional novel.
"The Crazy Kolinskis: A Southern Novel" will be released in bookstores throughout the country next month in a paperback edition at a cost of $17.95 per copy. The author will be available to autograph copies of the book that are purchased at a book signing at Thomas Townhouse Galleries in Decatur Aug. 2, from 1 – 6 p.m.
"It took me six years to write the book," Howell said in a telephone interview from his home in Lexington, N.C.
"My church gave me a sabbatical to do the work, but after the first two months I had barely gotten started.
"The characters I created for the novel are composites of people I knew when I was growing up in Hartselle as well as those I've known during my ministry. I tried to create in it the substance of everyday life in a small Southern town."
Howell said returning home with copies of his novel prior to its release in bookstores is something that excites him.
"I hope to see and get re-acquainted with a lot of my childhood friends and neighbors," he said.
"The Crazy Kolinskis" portrays a charming Southern hamlet where life is anything but mundane. Alongside changing seasons, local politics, church, and colorful townspeople lie shattered dreams, controversy, guilt, secrets and the perplexing behavior of an eccentric, elderly couple who reside in a decaying Victorian house.
Elmer and Maude Lawson are connected to a series of crises that share a common thread in the Kolinski family.
When Elmer and his cousin and best friend, Bernard, learn of Pearl Harbor and the ensuing war in 1941.
The two pledged to fight and then return home and live out their childhood passion by playing professional baseball for the Dodgers.
Whatever they did, the cousins promised to do it together, but sometimes life circumstances prevent us from keeping our word.
Howell's novel is a story about loss and faith, misplaced guilt and the age-old search for peace. It shows how our complex lives are tangled together, exemplifying how one unselfish life sacrificed for a greater cause can ultimately provide redemption and hope that transcends situations, time and generations.
Howell is the son of Dolly and the late Ray N. Howell Jr. She still lives in the family home on East Main Street where her son spent his childhood. He is currently serving as senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Lexington, N.C. The North Carolina State Baptist Convention honored him in 2004 as recipient of its Heritage Award for his long tenure as a director for the Biblical Recorder. Howell wrote and produced Lexington's 175th Historical Celebration and the theatrical drama, "False Alarm at Midnight."
He is also a religion writer for the Dispatch and author of "Davidson County: Images of America."
His book was published by Carolina Avenue Press.