James D. McCallister

author of the Edgewater County series

FELLOW TRAVELER Anniversary Time!

That’s right—not only was my novel Fellow Traveler inspired by the Grateful Dead experience, but its official release in 2012 came on November 1, the Day of the Dead. That I had first seen the band on Halloween night in 1985—a night like forever, as it turns out—only made the decision to have the book release at this time of year all the more obvious.

Happy Birthday, FT!

Happy Birthday, FT!

In the three years since, much has happened, and the road I thought I’d be traveling by now has both changed and not changed, in a sense. In 2012 I reached the apotheosis-so-far of this writing career: my second novel in print, signed by an agent to represent a third, and finalist short story placements in two national writing competitions. Not too shabby.

Fellow Traveler‘s publication would not only provide the further realization of my ambition to write and publish literary novels, but would itself be honored in a variety of ways: prior to publication, shortlisted for finalist in the Faulkner-Wisdom Competition, as well as second place in the South Carolina Writer’s Workshop/Cary McCray Literary Awards for Best Novel—First Chapter; afterwards, featured on national media (Tales from the Golden Road, Sirius/XM Grateful Dead channel talk show) and with its author as speaker on panels at the South Carolina Book Festival, the Southwest/Texas PCA conference, and the national Grateful Dead academic conference last year at San Jose State University.

The author, enormously honored to be signing books alongside the great Southern novelist and poet Ron Rash.

The author, enormously honored to be signing copies of Fellow Traveler alongside the great Southern novelist and poet Ron Rash.

While we’re talking about the Bay Area, now seems a good time to remind that my papers relating to Fellow Traveler—a variety of original notes, drafts, and publication-related materials—were accessioned as an adjunct collection to the Grateful Dead Archive at UC Santa Cruz’s McHenry Library. Curated by preeminent Dead scholar Nicholas G. Meriwether, my papers residing there amongst those crucial historical documents will likely remain one of the honors of my life.

Signing at the book release.

Signing at the book release.

So, while some of my loftier career goals have yet to materialize in the manner I thought they might back when the dew fell fresh upon Fellow Traveler, I truly harbor no complaints. It is with pun duly intended that I remain grateful to Bob Jolley and Cindi Boiter of Muddy Ford Press here in Columbia for taking a chance on this problem-child manuscript of mine, one I had begun to believe would never see light outside of my writer’s trunk; and to my many readers who have let me know how much the journey of my music-loving protagonist meant to them, your kind words (that continue to come my way, I might add) let me know that my efforts were not in vain.

Cindi Boiter and Bob Jolley, publisher and editor of Muddy Ford Press. (photo credit: thestate.com)

Cindi Boiter and Bob Jolley, publisher and editor of Muddy Ford Press. (photo credit: thestate.com)

I’ve had many endings this year, and in a way, the publication of this novel represented not only a writer career culmination, but also of my work regarding that San Francisco band for whom I still hold so much affection. With that in mind, the way ahead in Edgewater County won’t be completely Dead-free—a memorable show plays an important role in MANSION OF HIGH GHOSTS, and a pre-stardom, 1962 version of Jerry Garcia himself enjoys a prominent cameo in DIXIANA DARLING. You may all assess the charm of those little Deadhead Easter eggs later, however, when those novels find their way to publication—and rest assured they will.

In any case, here’s to Fellow Traveler, my proudest authorial achievement, but only so-far. Much more to come!




About dmac

James D. McCallister is a South Carolina author of novels, short stories, and creative nonfiction. His latest book, a story collection called The Year They Canceled Christmas, releases in November 2017.

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