It’s fall, and just last month, one of Oklahoma’s celebrated, award-winning authors, Lou Berney, released a book appropriately titled for the season: “November Road.”
His latest crime thriller is a nail biter about the events following the John F. Kennedy assassination, and some of the action takes place right here in our state.
I consumed the book in a single weekend, and it was so well put together that I felt smarter just for reading it. In fact, Berney proves he’s a writer with a great deal of heart and skill. Here’s what he had to say when I had the chance to interview him with my most pressing questions.
Me: Honestly, I really relish a book that keeps me turning the pages but that also has literary appeal. You’re on the faculty for Oklahoma City University’s Red Earth MFA, and your bio says you feel that genre and literary writing can intersect. Can you tell me more about that?
Berney: I’ve always loved books that make me think, make me feel, and make me keep turning the page to find out what happens next. I love a good sentence and a good plot twist, and I don’t see why they can’t happily co-exist.
Me: You live in Oklahoma now, but did you grow up here?
Berney: I was born and raised in Oklahoma City, and it will always be a big part of who I am. I love the big blue skies and the dramatic sunsets. If I’m traveling and hear an Oklahoma accent, it takes me right back home.
Me: How does family influence and define you as a writer?
Berney: I’m not a parent, but my wife and I are very close (geographically and figuratively) to my nephews and their wives and children. Family is very important to me. My older sisters taught me to read at a very early age (whether I liked it or not!), and I owe them a lot for that.
Me: What drove you to this subject for your book?
Berney: I was intrigued by the thought of throwing together two people from very different worlds: a big-city mafia lieutenant who is charming and flashy and amoral, and a small-town mother with two little girls trying to create opportunities for herself and her kids. And the JFK angle has always been interesting to me. My family used to go down to Dallas every summer and we’d always drive through Dealey Plaza.
Me: I think creative writing is a great outlet, even for those who don’t want to publish. If a dad or mom told you they wanted to start working on a novel, what might you say to that person?
Berney: I would say to go for it, absolutely. Writing can be a great, enriching experience, even if you never get published. In fact, I’d say that for all successful writers the important thing is the journey, not the destination — it’s the actual process of writing, of creating characters and worlds, that brings the real joy.