“Everything lined up” to bring Shane Wilson to Fayetteville from Georgia a few years ago, he said — a relationship, a job and a future full of possibilities.
Although the relationship with his then-girlfriend did not work out, Wilson said “life here is good.” He enjoys his job teaching English at Fayetteville Technical Community College, he has a network of friends and colleagues to offer support and encouragement, and he is building a following of fans for his writing.
Already recognized for his published poetry, Wilson recently self-published his first novel, “A Year Since the Rain.” The story follows a confused but likeable narrator named Alan, whose personal heartbreak coincides with a draught in his town. Wilson’s journey of self-discovery is guided by a series of women who try to help him see that home is more than the ground beneath your feet.
Hank and Diane Parfitt, the owners of City Center Gallery & Books on Hay Street enjoyed the book so much, they hosted an author meet-and-greet on June 23 to introduce the book to Fayetteville and give readers a chance to meet Wilson.
“We support local artists including authors,” Hank Parfitt said. “I think this book deserves wider attention. It is as good as any well-known author writing fiction today.”
Wilson said he is not completely comfortable with being called author or novelist yet.
“Am I an author?” He said there is a feeling of ‘imposter syndrome’ when he hears that.
“I always thought I was a poet,” Wilson said. “I thought that is what I was for a long time— a poet.”
He added that his book started out as “six pages of terrible poetry.” He put it on the shelf for a year before returning to it. What became A Year Since the Rain “started with a sentence, then it came tumbling out, like much art does.”
Wilson prefers another term these days. “Writer is easier to grasp than novelist,” he said. “It is the difference in being a runner and being a marathoner — that is what writing a novel feels like.”
One label Wilson does not contest is that of teacher. His personable style of instruction and warm, cheerful personality builds interest and respect in his FTCC classroom, current and former students say. Many of them attended the event at City Center Gallery & Books.
Don Grasmick, a former soldier now working toward a welding certification, initially took Wilson’s class only because it was required. He said Wilson made the subject matter easy to comprehend and enjoy. He added that being a published author lends credibility in the classroom because “he’s got proof of being a writer.”
FTCC graduate Brandon Perez is now attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studying political science. He said he enjoyed Wilson’s way of dissecting a story and breaking it down for the class, but his support and encouragement has meant even more.
“His work has profoundly affected me inside the classroom,” Perez said. “But he has also always been a mentor and friend outside the classroom.”
Wilson recently finished writing the first draft of his second book. The story features two musicians and asks where does creativity come from and how do we define it.
“The most daunting part is what do I do next,” Wilson said. “I’ll still be writing and teaching.”
Wilson’s next stop will be as special guest during the Gallery 208 Opening Reception for Light and Time: Paintings by Rose Kennedy on July 12 from 5:30 – 7 p.m. The event is free and open the the public. Gallery 208 is located at 208 Rowan St.