In the nine years that I’ve lived in northern Idaho, I’ve continually been impressed by the quality of the local literary community. Who knew there were so many intriguing authors, writers, and booklovers living in these parts? And then to discover that I share a publisher with one of them–well, to my mind, that makes us sort of literary cousins! Join me in welcoming fellow author and North Idahoan Buck Storm to the Sparkling Vintage blog.
On a recent sunny day I had the privilege of chatting with Buck over coffee. His debut novel, The Miracle Man, was published in 2015 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.
But Buck’s is not only a novelist–he’s an accomplished musician and songwriter, too (another form of storytelling). As a soloist or as one half of “Stonehill and Storm” (with Christian-music powerhouse Randy Stonehill), Buck “plays live throughout America and the world, in venues that range anywhere from churches to concert halls, prisons to soup kitchens to barrooms,” as stated on his website.
When not traveling on tour, Buck and his wife, Michelle, call North Idaho home. They enjoy hanging out with their grown kids and renovating their 1908 house–of which, I must admit, I’m envious. To my delight, it turns out that the Storms, too, are fans of “all things vintage,” scouring the area for cast-off treasures that just need a little TLC to restore them to their former luster.
But back to matters at hand . . .
Set in 1951, The Miracle Man tells the story of Luke Hollis, police chief of sleepy Paradise, Arizona. When an unexplained healing occurs during a service at the Mount Moriah Pentecostal Church of God, Hollis finds his simple belief system challenged and his life changed forever. Throw in a struggling minister, a world-class grifter, and a stranger with an unbelievable story of love and redemption and the stage is set for The Miracle Man. By the time it’s all over everyone involved will come face to face with a power that’s greater and more wonderful than any of them could have ever imagined.
I loved this book, especially its vivid descriptions, memorable characters, wry humor, and powerful story of redemption. It’s the kind of story you find yourself rolling over in your mind, days after finishing it.
Here are some highlights from our conversation:
Jennifer Lamont Leo: Thanks for meeting with me, Buck. The Miracle Man is set in the early 1950s. Why did you choose that time period?
Buck Storm: I don’t really know … I think it chose me! Growing up in Arizona, a lot of guys I knew were from that postwar time period. I loved listening to their stories.
Jennifer: Is Paradise based on a real town?
Buck: Paradise is fictional. I’ve placed it in the area around Payson, Arizona, but it’s not based on any particular town.
Jennifer: Is any part of the story autobiographical?
Buck: No, except to the extent that, like Luke Hollis, I have arm-wrestled with God. The truth is, God is involved in your life, whether you know it or not, whether you acknowledge it.
Jennifer: That’s an important message for people to hear.
Buck: Yeah. If our lives are grounded in faith, then our writing comes out of that faith.
JLL: What have you enjoyed reading/watching/listening to lately?
Buck: I recently enjoyed the movie Smoke Signals [ed. note: based on a story by another notable Northwest author, Sherman Alexie]. I’ve been reading Charles Martin, Elmore Leonard, and Larry McMurtry, paying special attention to their use of dialogue. As a songwriter, I appreciate dialogue that has an almost lyrical quality, like [songwriter] John Prine. I’m on the road a lot, so I listen to audiobooks while driving.
Jennifer: Speaking of being on the road, tell us a bit about your music. How would you describe it?
Buck: I’d call it Americana, both in genre and content. It has elements of country and folk, a sort of vintage acoustic style. You can listen to it at buckstorm.com.
Jennifer: Do you take copies of The Miracle Man with you on the road?
Buck: Yeah. A lot of people who come to hear us play have responded very positively to the book.
Jennifer: What writing projects are you working on now?
Buck: My next novel, Truck Stop Jesus, will be published in November 2016. And I’m working on a third novel, The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomez. I also write a blog called Tips for the Traveler, where I share some of the thoughts I have while traveling.
Jennifer: Life on the road must give you a lot of time to think. It helps your creativity.
Buck: Yes, it does.
Jennifer: Thanks for talking with me today, Buck. I look forward to future visits to Paradise, Arizona.
Buck: Thank you.
Look for The Miracle Man (available now) and Truck Stop Jesus (coming in November 2016) at your favorite online bookseller. For more about Buck Storm, visit his website, buckstorm.com, where you can read his blog, listen to his music, and find out more about his upcoming tour schedule, book releases, and more.