Ex-LaRue resident publishes 'Geezer Bench'
Fields says village he remembers had Norman Rockwell air about it
May 28, 2014 |
The Marion Star
Scott Fields had written more than a half dozen books when a friend sat with him at his house to share his idea for another.
“I even have a title, ‘The Geezer Bench,’” Fields said, recalling the conversation. “Well, with just the title he got my attention.”
The novel tells the story of four friends who share their thoughts of the day as they sit on a public bench before returning to and from their private lives of mixed sorrow and happiness.
According to Fields, the book has been getting attention, “doing real well,” which pleases him for himself and for his hometown of LaRue, where he set the story in his eighth book.
“It’s not quite the same as it was back in the ’50s,” Fields, now a Mansfield resident, said. “In the ’50s it was your Norman Rockwell kind of setting: three or four grocery stores, five gas stations. You didn’t have to worry about taking your keys out of your car. ... I’d go down to the Scioto River and go fishing and swimming.”
His previous book, “The Mansfield Killings,” based on a murder spree in 1948 in the Richland County city, has been his best-seller, he said. It also represented a departure from the type of writing he prefers: “I like for people to have a good feeling when they get done reading a book of mine, to see there’s a bright side at the end. That’s what life really is. That’s what I try to put in my books.”
Ironically, he’s writing another book about Robert Dale Henderson, a serial killer who claimed victims in southern Ohio, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida. He learned of the murders at a book-signing for “The Mansfield Killings” in Delaware, where he met a woman who said her aunt had been married to Henderson.
“I’ve got to write something I can’t imagine,” he said, referring to the violence at the center of the story.
Retired from retail management of Kmart and Pep Boys stores, the 65-year-old Fields in his youth was a talented pitcher for Elgin High School, having been drafted 34th in the 1966 Major League Baseball Amateur Baseball Draft by the Detroit Tigers, after future Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson and before stars such as Steve Garvey and Bernie Williams.
He chose instead to go to Ohio University “to learn about writing.”
“My grandson still does not forgive me for that,” he said. “I played baseball. My dad worked with me all those years. (But) I really didn’t like baseball. I loved to pitch. ... It’s something I’ve got to live with the rest of my life. You’re 18. You don’t know much about the world. I decided I’d go to college to learn about writing.”
He said the college instruction helped, but decided a person either has the skill to write or doesn’t. “You just need to practice,” he said.
Professional writing for Fields began about 20 years ago with short stories. “I got a few published, and someone said, ‘Why don’t you write a novel?’ So I did.”
He then started looking for an agent to help him market his books. The process took about 10 years, he said, remarking, “It’s harder to get an agent than to get a book published.”
The effort has been worth it, he said, sharing that with his agent’s help he likely will have two more books published this year.
He’s been around writing his entire life.
“My mother was a writer,” he said. “She never got published, but she was a very talented writer. From the time I can remember, probably since I was 5 years old, I had the idea of a story I always wanted to write. The pressure of family and making a living kind of put it on the back (burner).” He said in his retirement he always has three of four ideas for books he wants to write. His son, Michael Scott Fields, also recently had a book, “Spirits of the Darkness,” published.
He said he “absolutely loved writing” his latest novel, adding that typically he doesn’t read a book after he writes it, but did read “The Geezer Bench” and found tears running down his face. “And I wrote it. It has some real touching things in it.”
LaRue has been the setting for some of his other books, as well, but not always without constructive criticism from local residents. He said none of “The Geezer Bench” arises from his own life, adding that he won’t even claim any allusion to places and things in the story to be entirely accurate.
“Even the stuff I put in as fact like the bench in front of the dry good store is up for debate,” he said, good-naturedly.
He said although they are not yet scheduled, he plans to do two book-signing events in Marion County.