George L. Potter
I turned 70 on September 11th
Where do you currently live?
I live in Asheville, NC – I’ve been living here for about 10 years now since I retired from the oil ‘bidness’.
Tell us a little bit about your life.
I was born in rural Louisiana and attended Louisiana State University earning degrees in Chemical Engineering and Law. Worked for a time in the paper industry, but spent most of my career in the oil industry. Moved around frequently – spent several years living in Yemen where I was the assistant general manager for my company’s operations in that country. My wife and I have been married for 48 years now and have two children and six grandchildren (and three spoiled dogs).
When did you first start writing?
My first effort was in high school. In the mid 50s I was a science fiction reader and a friend and I wrote a couple of short stories and submitted them to two of the sci-fi periodicals. I wish I had kept the rejection letters from back then. I started on a novel in the early 1980s but demands of career and family side-tracked that effort. I saved all my notes and drafts and eventually incorporated much of that into In Search of the Yellow Dog which I started after retiring.
What was your very first story about?
Our first sci-fi stories in the 50s were about aliens invading the earth – my first serious story was In Search of the Yellow Dog, a mystery set in my hometown of Bogalusa, Louisiana.
Have you written anything that you were too afraid to let anyone read?
I was somewhat leery of having my daughter and granddaughter read some of the steamier scenes in Death in the Empty Quarter, but I believe the scenes were “tastefully” crafted so I got past that fear.
Did you experience anything you’ve written yourself?
I put a lot of myself in both my books, embellished to some extent.
Who are several of your greatest literary inspirations?
I’ve been a prolific reader all my life and almost everything I’ve read has had some inspiration. My favorite authors include Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Ross MacDonald, Dick Francis and James Lee Burke.
What kind of education have you received, and how has that affected your writing?
As I mentioned earlier I have both an engineering and a law degree. Even as an undergraduate in engineering I took English courses as my electives. I practiced law for awhile which involves a lot of writing – I took a couple of seminars in writing.
How much research time customarily goes into your projects?
Considerable. I don’t know how I could do as much research as I have to do for my writing if it wasn’t for the internet. I have two “works in progress”, both requiring extensive research. One involves the search for lost confederate gold and the other is set in North Africa during the early days of World War II.
Tell us about your featured book.
Death in the Empty Quarter is set primarily in the country of Yemen. As I mentioned, I lived there for several years and it is a fabulous place with great, hard working people. It is about a fictitious oil company which won an oil concession there, but a sexy muckraking reporter wonders how the small company beat out the industry giants for that concession. It traces a family feud from sixty years previous for control of valuable oil rights in south Louisiana which in turn led to the acquisition of the Yemen concession. It has incest, murder, kidnapping, international terrorism, espionage.
Why did you write that?
It was always in me fighting to get out – it was a story I had to tell!
Is there anything special you would like your potential readers to know?
Only that I write for my readers – I’m certainly not going to get rich off this work. It’s a hobby and a means to express myself. I only hope I can provide my readers with some good entertainment.
Where is the one place you’ve traveled where you’ve felt most like you fit in?
I felt most comfortable living and working in Yemen. I made good friends with many of the locals and life long friends with many of the expatriates I worked with there.
What activity or hobby, besides writing, do you find most enjoyable?
I’m an avid amateur astronomer. I have several telescopes ranging in size from 3” refractors to an 11” Schmidt-Cassegrain. I love to photograph deep space objects. I’ll often spend all night photographing a single object. The wonders of the universe never cease to amaze me.
What is hiding in your closet as we speak?
Statute of Limitations may not have run on some of these things, so I’d better not get too specific.
You have decided to buy an exotic pet, what do you go for?
The dachsunds running around our house are as “exotic” as I can stand.
If you could learn one new thing instantly, what would it be?
I would learn to speak several foreign languages – I took Spanish in high school and still have trouble ordering in a Mexican restaurant. I’ve tried to learn German without success, but I most would love to be fluent in Arabic as is my protagonist in Empty Quarter.
Finish this sentence. “I sometimes find it hard to…”
Just do one thing at a time – there’s so much to do in this word, so much to see and so many people to get to know.
Who is your most favorite literary character?
It varies from time to time, but at present my favorite would be Dave Robicheaux, James Lee Burke’s main character in his novels set in south Louisiana. He’s about my age and has a “no nonsense” attitude about things that I just relate to him.
Who is your favorite character of your own creation?
The main characters in both my novels, Randall Oliver in Yellow Dog, and Bert Franks in Empty Quarter, are a lot alike in many ways, and I have to say they’re both people I identify with greatly. In Yellow Dog, Oliver is an older man (about my current age) while in Empty Quarter, Franks is early middle age. In my coming prequel to Yellow Dog, which I have titled, The Treasure of Money Hill, I have created a female character that I have fallen in love with. I guess that’s a hazard of being able to create your own characters.
If you were ever to write an autobiography, what would its title be?
I’d probably not try to get a descriptive title – that would be bragging. Something simple – “The Life and Times of Me”.
To be or not to be?
I would certainly choose to be!
Our thanks again to George for participating. Now go and give his work a look before the crust of the earth begins to disassemble itself.