“But I got this just this week,” said Charles Fletcher, local author of “Little Sam Mountain.” Fletcher received the Clark Cox Historical Fiction Award from the North Carolina Society of Historians Inc., for this, the third book he has written.
Fletcher won the award “for the valuable contributions he has made toward the collection, preservation and perpetuation of North Carolina history.”
At 88, Fletcher has written a fourth book, “The Sheriff,” since “Little Sam Mountain,” which came out earlier this year, and is now also working on his fifth work of fiction about where he grew up in North Carolina, the people he met there and his experiences there in a time long ago. In fact, the setting for all his books is the mountains of western North Carolina.
His first book, “Out West and Back,” came out in 2007 and his second, “The Panther on Cold Mountain,” in 2009.
The award committee said “If you want to read a good book in one afternoon, this is the book to choose. It is about the life of John Dowdy, who grew up on Little Sam Mountain in Western North Carolina.
“It tells of his life during the Depression, but dwells deeper on his military life during World War II. From the moment he signed up, through the military physical (which was hilarious), we take a trip through Dowdy’s daily life as his family readies him for his trip to boot camp, says their good-byes, and sends him off on the bus. It is on this bus that he meets his “best friend,” his Army buddy, Bill Wolf, who lives in Maggie Valley.
“We take a personal look into Army life for these two new friends, through boot camp and beyond. They form a very strong bond of friendship and are inseparable until one particular battle. Bill is killed and this break’s John’s heart and he becomes revengeful toward the enemy.
“The story covers his love life, of sorts, with his girlfriend, Sarah; his war injuries; and his return to his beloved mountain, only to find that everything and everyone has changed. So much so that he didn’t recognize anything anymore. It is said that one can never go home and this is true in this instance.
“We find John, at the end of the book, thinking about going back to England to find a girl he met during his stay there; or maybe even re-enlisting in the Army. Anything to take him away from a changed place that no longer held any of his dreams.
“This is a fabulous little book that is full of insight into the hopes and dreams of a young Western North Carolina man who carries the principles he has learned on the mountain with him when he travels the world. He doesn’t change but remembers all his parents taught him, what life has taught him, and he applies these principles that earn him respect. This book is about deep family ties and friendships, loyalty, heartbreak due to loss ... disillusionment and hope.”
According to the award committee, “Little Sam Mountain” is well worth reading, reader-friendly, warm and inviting. Members said the novel is one of the best books they had read all year.
“They flatter the book,” Fletcher said. “I thought the others were better stories, but to hear them tell it, it brings out the way life truly was. The loyalty, the honesty of this life. The story is simple but so real to life.”
Readers can get a copy of the Clark Cox Historical Fiction Award winner, “Little Sam Mountain,” or any of his other three currently in-print books by e-mailing the author at email@example.com.