Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"In Print, and Back In Action"

Long-time IWW Nonfiction list member, Diane Diekman, and also working as a co-administrator of the Nonfiction list, received good news several months ago when the University of Illinois Press accepted and scheduled for publication her biography of the country music performer Faron Young.

Diane knows that in today's world the author is in charge of publicity, and so she instituted an email newsletter for fans of Young's music. She announced recently that publication of Live Fast, Love Hard: The Faron Young Story will be September/October, 2007.

The University of Illinois Press took a photo from the Michael Ochs archive and had it colorized for her book cover.

Diane plans to stay busy, and stay with her goal of recognizing some of the outstanding country music artists the present generation may immediately recognize. I asked her about her new project, a biography of Marty Robbins, the research for which she began with a recent trip to Nashville. Here's her report.

"I've got all kinds of little notes in my head and on my desk, of e-mail to send, people to call for interviews, and receipts to record. Plus several hundred pages of oral history and magazine articles to read and catalog.

"It was a most successful week. I went to Nashville not knowing whether we'd stay busy all week or what kind of schedule we'd have. But everything fell into place, and we crammed a lot into one week. It began the first afternoon when we picked up my sister Kayo at the airport. We stopped by the Country Music Hall of Fame for an autograph session where I hoped to meet several band members. There we ran into steel player Skip Jackson, whom we know and who is Kayo's favorite. I told him one of the things on my list was to find the fairgrounds speedway where Marty Robbins used to race. Skip led us there and gave us a history of those racing days. So that was the first afternoon. The last afternoon Kayo and I had a three-hour visit with Marty's son, Ronny Robbins. I'd left several messages for him during the week, not knowing whether he'd want me writing a book about his dad. So I was happy when he called and agreed to meet. Turns out we could have talked for hours! He was impressed by my research and by Kayo's interest in racing. He told Kayo that I know more about his family than he does.

"Twice during the week Kayo took my girls swimming while I did research at the HOF. I'd be going through clipping files there while the researcher checked oral histories and printed out transcripts of the ones that included Marty. He definitely rates a thank you in the acknowledgment section of the book.

"Ralph Emery agreed to let me use his interviews with Marty just as he did with Faron. He dropped his reel-to-reel tapes off at a studio and told me to make the arrangements for copying and shipping. We went there in person, and who walked in the door but Bill Anderson and Brenda Lee, both of whom I'd interviewed for Faron's book. Brenda gave me her phone number so I can interview her about Marty. Bill wants me to guest on his XM Radio show in September when Faron's book comes out. Whew! I get tired just thinking about all of this. I couldn't have done it without Kayo there to make phone calls for me and help carry the conversations. She's considered the fun one of the two of us."

Diane's too modest to say so, but her persistence has put her in contact with people who have superb, in-depth knowledge of American country music. People like Emery and Anderson are walking history books. It's that sort of passion that makes a book a real thing in a reader's hands rather than a fantasy in a would-be author's mind.

Diane Diekman lives in Washington DC, USA. She's a South Dakota farm girl who became a U.S. Navy officer and freelance nonfiction writer. On her Web site you'll find information about her life, her Navy career, country music singer Faron Young, good books to read, and whatever else occurs to her to add. There are also links to the first chapters of A Farm in the Hidewood or Navy Greenshirt, two memoirs she's written. A profile of Faron Young, along with several articles she wrote about him, can be found in the "Faron Young" section of her web site.

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