Schoolteacher turns novelist

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Richard Crumpton, whose name may be familiar to many Shelby Countians as a former Vincent High School basketball coach and a former Wilsonville Elementary teacher, has entered the world of fiction with his first book, &uot;The Serpent’s Tongue.&uot;

But this first effort is no dull fare written by a former schoolteacher.

It is an adult novel … a thriller which delves into the underbelly of the drug trade in Mexico, the plight of ranchers along the border of the United States and Mexico and the flood of illegal immigrants into the U.S. The novel explores the antagonism between two women whose worlds collide when one travels to Mexico looking for her drug enforcement officer fiance who has disappeared without a trace.

As Crumpton puts it, &uot;This is not a feel good book.&uot;

Crumpton relates how he traveled to Mexico with a hired &uot;guide&uot; to do research.

While he said he did not

talk with illegal immigrants or drug traffickers, he said he went into Mexico to experience the reality of the culture. His guide, Miguel, carried a shotgun and a 9 mm pistol.

Crumpton said many Mexicans view America as a &uot;cash cow.&uot;

He said there were towns with no running water, but a Western Union Station so that money can be wired to family back home. In fact, he said many still believe that Texas belongs to them and was stolen away by the United States.

Crumpton said the U.S. had been moderately successful in its drug war against the cartels of Columbia. Now, however, the Mexican cartels are fighting for the Colombian’s old territory east of the Mississippi.

The former high school basketball coach and elementary school administrative assistant

said he did not set out to write a novel.

Instead, he said he only wanted to do research for a nonfiction book to help schools deal with the increase in Hispanics. But Crumpton said he found himself led to write a fictional story.

Crumpton said he had wanted to write for 10 years, so the idea of his writing a novel was not &uot;like a bolt of lightning.&uot; The book, he hopes, will become the first part of a trilogy.

While Crumpton said &uot;The Serpent’s Tongue&uot; is not a &uot;feel good book,&uot; he said hopefully if the other two are published, &uot;by the end of the third book, you will feel good.&uot;

Crumpton has a literary agent, he said; but, writing a book was not like he thought it would be.

He said when he submitted his first manuscript, he thought he was finished. Instead, he was told his novel had &uot;intriguing qualities&uot; and by the time it was published, had re-written it three times.

Crumpton said he read &uot;Gone With The Wind&uot; as a small boy and became hooked on the thought of writing after he saw the movie version of that classic. Also influencing him, he said, was Ernest Hemingway’s &uot;Old Man And The Sea.&uot;

Crumpton will be signing his book today, Nov. 13 at The Eclipse in Montevallo and again on Nov. 27 at the The Little Professor Book Store and Coffee Shop in Homewood.

He served as head basketball coach at Vincent High School from 1976-89, amassing a record of 267 wins, 119 losses.

He was honored as the Shelby County Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year four times.

Crumpton’s teams won four small school county championships, two overall county championships, seven area championships, six regional championships, participated in five state tournaments, three final fours and was state runner-up once.

In addition, Crumpton served as an administrative assistant at Wilsonville Elementary from 1989 until 2001. He holds two master’s degrees &045; one in physical education and one in school administration from the University of Montevallo. He has a commission in the Order of Kentucky Colonels (a service organization) and won the Birmingham News Top Ten Newsmaker Award in 1988.

He is also a certified Anti-Terrorist First Responder. That was a distinction he earned by participating in a program through the board of education to be able to secure the scene in the event of a tragic event at school.

&uot;The Serpent’s Tongue&uot; is published by Infinity Publishing Company of Haverford, Pa. Crumpton now makes his home in Hueytown