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On Thursday at the Colusa County Library, author Mel McKinney talked to a intrigued audience of over 50 people about his two books, “Where There’s Smoke” and “Dead Duck.”
The Friends of the Library held their annual meeting in conjunction with a Meet the Author event. Attendees enjoyed refreshments and had their copies personally signed by McKinney. After a few items of business for the Friends of the Library, McKinney was invited to discuss his story about Cuban cigars, working with literary agents, and the art of wildlife sport.
While it has often been said that retiring and writing a novel is the American Dream, McKinney made it his reality. McKinney was a lawyer and dreamed of a day when he could pursue his love of hunting and fishing. Taking what he did best, telling a story to a jury, he decided to tell the story of his post-retirement adventures in Colusa County and the many local people he met along the way.
Facilitators for the event needed to keep getting chairs for the persistent flow of people who came to hear the comical antidotes from the outdoor sportsman. “Dead Duck” is a fictional work inspired from local people, including the main character, Drake Green, although McKinney refuses to divulge his identity.
“What I wrote about in ‘Dead Duck,’ is that there’s a hell of a lot more to duck hunting that killing ducks,” said McKinney. “It’s the moral message, the art, and ethics of the sport.” He then shared his appreciation of nature, the art in the duck call, and in his decoys “Henry” and “Henrietta.”
When McKinney started to write “Where There’s Smoke,” he wanted to tell a story about a friend’s sudden cache of Cuban cigars, but said he faced a dilemma of why to tell the story.
“I concluded that hiding within the bones of a story of JFK’s thousand cigars, there was the beating hearts of Cuba’s people, the revolution that consumed them, and our shortsighted government policy toward it. I wove that revolution into the impact that policy had into the story, which gave it a moral value, a reason for being told.”
It took two years for McKinney to finish writing “Where There’s Smoke.” McKinney said his research involved reading up on Cuba and smoking a lot of Cuban cigars.
McKinney also spoke about his adventures writing a screenplay. Some of the troupe from Stagehands Theatre, who were present at the meeting, suggested that McKinney consider letting his screenplay be performed in Colusa. Stagehand Member Sue Gibbs offered to direct it.
The proceeds from the 48 books sold that evening were donated by McKinney to the Friends of the Library. Extra copies are available for purchase at Davison Drug & Stationary. ■