Writer gives students wisdom

Author Robert Inman answers questions for Haley Giffin and Matt Hill after presenting to PHS students. (Contributed)

Author Robert Inman answers questions for Haley Giffin and Matt Hill after presenting to PHS students. (Contributed)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“Do you think it’s OK to have parts of yourself in your characters?” asked PHS Junior Matt Hill.
“I have to,” said visiting author Robert Inman. “My characters come from me. They’re part of me.”
Thanks to Barbara Roberts, the Pelham Public Library and the Shelby County Arts Council, Inman’s visit to Pelham High School gave Hill and his classmates the opportunity to benefit from Inman’s writer wisdom.
The author of four novels, with a new novel coming out in September, Inman said, “I am a character-driven writer. Once I have the story going, I get out of the way and trust the characters to take over and begin to tell me their stories.”
Inman is a master of characterization. In “Dairy Queen Days,” his main character is a 16-year-old boy raised in the Methodist church.
When I read the book, my own son was 16 and very active in our Methodist church home. Trout, Inman’s 16-year-old narrator, was eerily similar to my son and his church buddies. Inman’s characters are honest, flawed works-in-progress.
Taking that message to our community, Inman led writing workshops at the Pelham Public Library. In addition to novels, Inman has published plays, a musical, nonfiction and screenplays enabling him to share with all aspiring authors.
“Writing is both art and craft. At Elba’s junior high school, my English teacher, Mrs. Kennedy, taught me the craft of writing,” Inman said. “She is at my elbow when I write. To the craft, I add the art — and that’s the storytelling.”
“I really like how Mr. Inman was able to explain how he writes and that his writing is character driven. He encouraged me,” Inman said.
Inman’s September novel, titled “The Governor’s Lady,” already available for pre-order on Barnes and Noble’s website, has plotlines reminiscent of Alabama politics, but the characters are all uniquely Inman’s. The story they’ve revealed to Mr. Inman promises to be a delightful September surprise.

Connie Nolen can be reached by email at CNolen@Shelbyed.k12.al.us.