Author Interview with Paul Flanagan, Author of The Smell of a Dirt Road


Today we have another author interview with Paul Flanagan. We originally did an interview with him for his Riley MacLeod series and now he is coming out with a new Christian drama series called The Smell of a Dirt Road.

What made you want to write an Interracial Christian Drama?

Answer: I grew up poor and actually lived in the Projects in Macon, GA. I was the only white kid. It was scary. But it allowed me to see the desperation some people felt. There were drug dealers and rats in the Projects, but some of the kids were there because, like me, they were forced to be there.

I sometimes thought about a romance between a white boy and a black girl who met while living in the Projects. I finally decided to write the story to show that love has no color and out of tragedy comes victory and that faith in God is the key to that victory.

Why did you name the series 'The Smell of a Dirt Road'?

Answer: I grew up poor. I remember one time my parents split up and I had to go stay with my mother's folks in south Georgia. I remember the driveway in front of my grandparent’s house—they were dirt poor and lived in an old run down house. I remember how hot it was and how the hot dirt felt and seemed to have a smell—a poor smell, I guess. It's hard to explain.

Do you worry many readers will see the story as racist because you used the word 'Negro' and 'White Cracker'?

Answer: I don't worry. Racist people are going to find a reason to be racist no matter what. Intelligent readers will understand there is no racism in my book. There are good white people and black people and bad white people and bad black people. That's the way life is. God looks at our heart. When a person does evil it's not his or her skin color that performs that evil, it's his of her heart.

You write comedy as well. Is there any humor in the first book to the 'A Smell of a Dirt Road' series?

Answer: I'm writing a clean family comedy series called 'The Riley MacLeod Series'. Riley is crazy, funny and the type of guy who belongs in a mental home—but you can't help but to love him. Comedy is very important to me. However, I do enjoy writing Christian drama. I like to talk about the hard issues in life that are difficult to approach. The story of Buddy and Brandy touches on some of those issues. There is some humor in my book but not a lot. I wanted to focus on the heart rather than humor.

How do you feel the black community and the white community will respond to your first book?

Answer: My book is written on a level that touches the white and black communities. Buddy is white. Brandy is black. The met at the age of ten while living in the Projects. They go through many struggles and hardships but end up falling in love and getting married. They have a son who becomes a nasty liberal who hates his parents and what they stand for.

There is no definitive side a white person or black person can take in my book. My book focuses on the heart and not skin color. I show that love destroys the idea that skin color is all that matters. I pray my book will close the divide between white and black people and help them to realize that God looks at the heart and not skin color.

You say Buddy and Brandy's son is a bad liberal. Do you think that will offend people?

Answer: No. I'm not a political person but Buddy and Brandy's son makes it clear in the book that he is a 'Staunch Liberal' and an 'Atheist'. He hates Buddy and Brandy's Christian beliefs and the fact that his parents made him work for what he got growing up. If people take offense to my book I will not concern myself with that issue. I find that if a person wants to be offended they will be offended over anything. A piece of toilet paper could fall to the ground and they will be offended.

Do you think the series will help the white community and the black community come together?”

Answer: Probably not. I hate to be so blunt but there are racist people who are white and black. No matter what you do they will never stop hating. My goal is to touch as many hearts as possible and show that God's love is what matters the most. Buddy and Brandy's life was never easy. They had to constantly fight to make it. They ran away from the Projects, ended up homeless, hungry, scared, cold, hurt...but they clung to each other for dear life and kept fighting.

Love doesn't look at a person's skin color. Buddy loved Brandy for who she was inside of her heart. Brandy loved Buddy for who he was inside of his heart. Their son chose to hate because he let his friends turn him against his parents and he grew up into a man who lost his soul.

Each book in the series in between 15K-20K words. Why did you make each book so short?

Answer: I work full time as a ghostwriter and it's hard for me to find time to write for myself. Even if I did have all the time in the world I think the word count for each book is good. I don't want to write a series that is long and drawn out. Sometimes short and sweet hits home.

There will be 12 books to the series. That's a good count and allows the series to reach the reader in a good way. I want Buddy and Brandy to touch the heart of a reader very deeply.

What kind of feedback would you like your readers to give you?

Answer: I always want positive feedback, of course, but I want my readers to read the series from the eyes of Buddy and Brandy and understand who they are, what they feel, what they went through, how they see each other, and how much they love God. If I get negative feedback that's fine. A writer takes his punches. But I hope my readers leave me good feedback.

Final Question: What will appeal to your readers that will make them want to read the series?

Answer: Every reader is different. The 'Smell of a Dirt Road' Series may not appeal to anyone or it may appeal to millions of people. I think what may appeal to any reader is the honesty in the series. There's no “Kid Gloves”. 'The Smell of a Dirt Road' series is Christian drama. God is at the forefront and the heart of Buddy and Brandy tells the story. That's what matters the most.

You can buy Paul's new book, The Smell of a Dirt Road, on Amazon currently for $0.99 for Kindle.

Paul also has a comedy series called The Riley MacLeod series which is on Amazon for $0.99 for Kindle and $5.99 for paperback.