A.D. Hopkins - Mystery, Coming of Age Story set in 1959
A.D. HOPKINS has worked for newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina, and Las Vegas, Nevada, where he was inducted into the Nevada Press Association's Newspaper Hall of Fame. He is the author of "The First 100: Portraits of the Men and Women Who Shaped Las Vegas". A former fencing teacher and inner city Scoutmaster, he restored a 1972 Ford Bronco, which he says was easier than the other two hobbies. "The Boys Who Woke Up Early" is his first novel. As our Author of the Day, Hopkins tells us all about this book.
Please give us a short introduction to what The Boys Who Woke Up Early is about.
It’s 1959. Stony and Jack are best friends and juniors at Jubal Early High School in the hills of southwest Virginia. Jack dreams of becoming a private detective and draws Stony into his fantasy. The two boys begin doing odd jobs for the county sheriff. They manage to solve a burglary at the district attorney’s house and hatch a crazy scheme to raid an illegal speakeasy and brothel. Along the way, they get into shootouts with hillbillies and discover a secret KKK stash—all the while trying to get the local high school girls to like them.
What inspired you to write about boys who face off against the Ku Klux Klan?
It has been my experience that young people often lead the way in social change. Sometimes they don’t even realize they’re doing it. It’s only in retrospect that their innovation and courage become apparent. I hope my story encourages people to act boldly when the opportunity to stand up for something worthwhile presents itself.
Why did you pick western Virginia in the late 1950s-60s as the backdrop for your book?
Although Early is fictional, it’s based on my experiences growing up in a small town in western Virginia. I know the locale well, along with the people and the culture of that period.
How much research did this book require from you in order to make the history part of it ring true? What was the most interesting aspect of this research?
I have always been interested in history. My forty-year career as an investigative journalist has made me a stickler for getting facts straight. This book is fiction, but it as accurate as I could make it with respect to place and time.
Tell us more about Stony. What makes him tick?
Stony is like many young boys—good-hearted but capable of making horrendous choices. He has to live with the consequences that bad decisions sometimes bring.
What makes Jack so special?
Jack is a likable oddball. He brings rebellion with a side of humor to the story.
In which way is this book a coming-of-age story?
The town of Early and the people who live there are still mired in the tradition and legalities of Jim Crow at the dawn of the civil rights movement. As society changes, the boys, the town and the nation must adjust and evolve. The boys are growing into manhood at the same time their community is coming of age. Without even realizing it, they are agents of societal change as they mature.
How did you go from writing newspaper features to authoring historical fiction?
I started this book more than 40 years ago, but my work as a journalist required 99% of my professional and personal focus and delayed its completion. But it would be fair to say that I’ve always been attracted to fiction writing, and I’m glad this story has finally been told. And I’m now working on a sequel.
Is there an underlying message you wish to relay about basic human nature through your characters?
Good people make mistakes—sometimes truly drastic mistakes—that cause heartache and shame, but they also have the ability to do the right thing.
Are any of the characters in the book based on real people?
My characters are fictional but inspired by and modeled on real people. Some of the incidents in this book I witnessed in real life, and others are based on events that I heard or read about. All of them certainly could have happened in the region in that time—and some of them really did.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on a sequel based on Stony’s career as a policeman.
Where can our readers discover more about your work or interact with you?
write posts every week about things I find interesting and that relate to my writing on my author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/A.D.Hopkins.author/
Reviews and information about The Boys Who Woke Up Early are online here: