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Celebrating Our Uniqueness

T P Graf
T.P. Graf Author Interview

Roots, Branches and Buzz Saws provides readers with more insightful stories from August Kibler’s life. What were some new ideas you wanted to introduce in this book?

In “As the Daisies Bloom,” we got to know well the mature, reflective August. In this second book, I very much wanted to show the people who helped shape his journey. One could read the first book and say he just sailed through life with little struggle. And while his struggles pale in comparison to many, August is not insensitive to others’ plights.

I felt like this book was about celebrating who you are as a person. Was this intentional or incidental to telling the story?

I smile as as I say, I have to remind my friends and family that this is fiction. They see much of August in me, and they certainly recognize aspects of my own life—and theirs, it must be said. I don’t believe you could tell the story of a particular time and place any other way. People will always recognize themselves in a story that they find relatable.

To the broader “you” that the question might invoke, I certainly am intentional about celebrating our uniqueness.

What was one of the most challenging scenes for you to write in this book?

I would narrow it to two overarching storylines. The first was the struggle August had with his own temper as a teen and his irritation if not actual estrangement from his only brother. Had the brother not died in the war, it seems likely this would have been a growing estrangement overtime. As we see, it was burden to August he never fully shed even with the brother’s death.

The second would be the early struggles in Miles and August’s life together during their time in Louisiana. The move to Louisiana was a move driven by August with many unforeseen consequences that might have driven them apart but for which fidelity prevailed.

Will you write more stories encompassing August Kibler’s life?

I feel August’s story has been told. I actually began working on a novel set in West Texas right after I finished “As the Daisies Bloom,” but I got stuck about three chapters in as I kept going back to August’s life. It seemed before I could move on, his story needed to be told in greater depth. Having done that, I’ve been able to not only complete the West Texas novel, but begin a sequel to it as well.

A part of me would love to be able to pickup the stories of Tyler, Johnny or Jimmy in some form, but as these stories are set in present time, I can’t see a way forward to that end—unless I write them as a very old man. I very much like the “memoir” style of telling people’s story. Memoirs of the rich and famous fly off the shelves, but my intent is to celebrate and recall the simple lives the rest of us live.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

After August Kibler’s death, his executor and friend, Tyler Marvel-Jemison, finds a file on August’s computer that enlightens Tyler on August’s ancestral roots and earlier years before he, Johnny and Jimmy wandered into the old man’s life at the Daisy Cafe. In this collection, August expands on the people and places in his life beyond those introduced in As the Daisies Bloom. We sojourn with August from the rural Ohio township, to Indiana, down to Louisiana and finally to North Carolina. August peels back the hidden layers of a life lived in the shadows of abuse—facing his own regrets for how he might have been a better friend. He unwittingly exposes an unhealed wound from Miles’ childhood. He and Miles learn just how Maggie and Ethel from the Daisy Cafe are “joined at the hip.” We witness how time and circumstance shape lives and families and diverse friendships over a lifetime, and how the Hope Mennonite “creed” of Loving God, Loving Ourselves and Loving Others is all the creed we ever truly need.
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