Homecoming Event Spotlights ATU Authors

Nine authors participated in the first Alumni Authors Corner event on Saturday, Oct. 21, during Arkansas Tech University Homecoming festivities.

In attendance were: C.J. Barger, ’66; Brandi Easterling Collins, BFA ’03, MS ’05, ATU staff; Cae Cordell, BS ’71; Dr. Thomas DeBlack, professor of history; Jennette Gahlot, BA ’03; Dr. Mildred Diane Gleason, BA ’70, retired associate professor of history; Melinda Hudson, MFA ’92, visiting instructor of English; Brooke Johnson, BFA ’10; and Dr. Stan Lombardo, professor of English.

University Marketing and Communication (MARCOMM) staff caught up with many of the authors at the event.

MARCOMM: How has your time at Arkansas Tech inspired your writing?

Barger: My education at Arkansas Tech University was the beginning of a successful and happy life for this hillbilly from the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. My education gave me an opportunity to foster the inside drive that I have in achieving what I set out to do.

Cordell: Arkansas Tech was the catalyst that promoted my interest in putting words on paper, being able to examine the frailties of life, as well as the strengths, horrors and wonders of humanity or the inhumane.”

Collins: Arkansas Tech played an integral role in helping me discover who I was and who I wanted to be as a writer. The professors encouraged me to express myself in ways I hadn’t thought of before and offered constructive criticism to improve my writing.

Gahlot: [ATU was] Life changing, multiple times on multiple levels, and yet I had no idea I was going to become published author, but the things I learned have come in handy over and over.

Gleason: The late Dr. Gene Boyett was my mentor and encouraged me to do graduate work in history, and the late Dr. Tom B. Wilson and Mr. John Gundeling, my philosophy professors, were instrumental to my academic development. These gentlemen were true professors: simultaneously kind, highly academically demanding, honest and encouraging.

Hudson: ATU was a perfect fit for my schedule. The experience was wonderful in bringing me back into contact with and giving me the opportunity to work with teachers I had known years earlier.

Johnson: I spent way too much time in the English Department office as a staff member and eventual editor of “Nebo: A Literary Journal.” I learned so much in such a short period of time while getting my degree, and it formed the foundation for my eventual career as a published author.

Lombardo: During my 40 years at ATU, I have encountered students with incredible potential and have done my best to encourage them to develop their talents to the fullest extent of their abilities. The Tech environment has enabled and encouraged my writing.

MARCOMM: Why do you write?

Barger: It makes me happy to put down on paper what my feelings are and how I perceive my characters in my books.  I love to bring to light how those pioneers who came before us made a pathway that lets us have an easier way of life.

Cordell: I love words, a good story-line, and many genres interest me and I am challenged to see where the character of the story will lead me.

Collins: I adore books and decided as a teenager that I wanted to be a writer. I write because it’s how I best express myself, and I want to be someone’s favorite author someday.

Gahlot: I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t write. I’ve always been a writer of some sort and an avid reader. I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t writing something!

Gleason: As a historian, I research and write to determine the facts in order to write an accurate analytical account of the past.

Hudson: I have always had a love for words, for reading and for listening to stories.  I began my own writing when I was eight years old.

Johnson: It’s a compulsion; I write because I have to, because I have too many stories to tell, too many worlds and characters in my head. Writing is my way of sharing something of myself with the rest of the world.

Lombardo: I write because storytelling is in my blood: my grandfather, Carmellu Lombardo, was the village poet of Petra Prezzia, Sicily.

Barger is the author of “Swords and Plowshares,” “Mamie: An Ozark Mountain Girl of Courage,” “Dark Clouds Over Alabama,” “Blue Skies of El Dorado,” “Arkansas Hillbilly: One Man’s Memoir Of A Blessed Life” and “Cleburne County and Its People” available at http://sbpra.com/CarlJBarger.

Cordell is the author of “Red Bird Phoenix; The Hat Man – A Father’s Transgressions – The State of Idaho vs. Noel Snow,” “Charity Rose,” Deadly Connection,” “Lace, Shadows and Roses – A Poetry Anthology,” and “When Forgiveness Isn’t Enough – A Counseling and Consulting Perspective” available at Amazon.com and www.jpgpublishing.com.

Collins is the author of “Caroline’s Lighthouse,” available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Dog Ear Books and B Street Books and the upcoming “Jordan’s Sister.” Essays, poetry and writing updates are available at www.caniscareyou.com.

DeBlack is the author of “A Century Forward: The Centennial History of Arkansas Tech University,” available at the ATU Barnes and Noble College Bookstore and the Alumni House, and “With Fire and Sword: Arkansas 1861-74.”

Gahlot is the author of “Alias Pandemonium: The Story of U.S. Deputy Marshal Rattlesnake Rex,” “Katy,” “Invisible Mind,” “A Puppy Named Lady,” “The Hungry Bear Story and the upcoming “Mischief and Mayhem” available on Amazon.com and www.jennettegahlot.com.

Gleason’s work includes: “Warren G. Harding: Harbinger of Normalcy” (co-authored with Dr. H. Micheal Tarver) and “Dardanelle and the Bottoms: Environment, Agriculture, and Economy in an Arkansas River Community, 1819-1970,” available at https://gleasonhistorical.com, Gleason Historical Studies and Milyn’s in Dardanelle, B Street Books, Dog Ear Books, and Amazon.com.

Hudson is the author of “The Headless Horseman of Booger Hollow and Other Dover Tales,” available at Amazon.com, Dog Ear Books, and Tea Tree Publishing.

Johnson is the author of “The Brass Giant,” “The Mechanical Theater” and “The Guild Conspiracy” available on http://brooke-johnson.com.  Her work-in-progress, “Dark Lord in Training,” is available on Wattpad.

Lombardo is the author of “Lucas and Nellie: The Tale of the Lake Dardanelle Serpent” and the series “The Crosstime Adventures of Carter Paxton” comprised of “Paxton at Bosworth Field,” “Paxton in the New World,” “Paxton versus the Armada” and “Who Murdered Shakespeare?” His books are available at Amazon.com and Dog Ear Books.

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