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Saga of the Elizabethon Tarheels by Sequoyah

William King

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the book reviews and author interview


Saga of the Elizabethon Tarheels 
by Sequoyah.


You can find and read the book... here

an extract

“You’re saying he’s gay?” Sheriff Anderson asked.

“No, I wouldn’t make that statement since around here it’s never a statement but an accusation, but given what I have seen of him and his work, if I had to bet, I’d bet he bats for my team.”

You could have heard a pin drop after Mr. Cobb’s statement. Art teachers are often accused of being gay, and I had never heard a hint that Mr. Cobb was, but he had just outed himself. 


the book reviews


REVIEW by Mark Christensen.

This is the story of a group of teens about to graduate high school and their journey to find love, friendship, and their future. Don’t let the 67 chapters put you off. I admit to wondering about the length and whether I should start it and I was glad I did. The chapters read quickly and the story flew by. I kept wanting to keep reading after I started.

Marcus and Justin are the main two characters, long time friends who discover they are in love. Adam and Bobbie are their close friends, whose path to love is a bit more bumpy than the guys journey. The characters are well written, the dialogue sparkles and the plot is well done. 

The story takes place in North Carolina, just weeks before and right after graduation, though Key West also plays a significant part in the story. The main characters and their friends, face all the trials present in today’s environment and meet them head on. I particularly liked a passage when Bobby explained the love between Marcus and Justin, to a friend upon learning about the new couple. It should be required reading for the entire country. 

Although the story does not break new ground in the genre, it is well written, enjoyable and a good read. The ending leaves you wanting an update on the group, perhaps down the road in 5 to 10 years to see how they have helped change the world for the better. If you want a heart warming story, well written and with characters you will come to care about and root for, this story is for you. 


REVIEW by William King.

This story gets off to a great start, by chapter five I was almost in tears as Marcus junior related his life and that of his best friend Justin. In tears because of the tragedy which Justin had to deal with. At the same time I was filled with expectations and doubts, in very much the same way that Marcus was himself. Overcome by a friendship from which he craved more, but by which he was compelled to deny his true feelings in order to preserve that same friendship. This tale was building slowly, simmering to a possible boiling point.

The author takes his time to introduce us to Marcus' world and in so doing he creates the perfect backdrop for what should be an epic story. There is a balance between narration and sometimes spicy dialogue: That morning, when she slammed a frying pan on the stove and asked in a ‘don’t fuck with me, kid’ voice, “Bacon, eggs and toast?” before she said good morning, I knew it was on big time. 

Or better still when Marcus forgets himself when talking to his mother: “But Marcus, she’s such a nice girl….”

“Nice girl? At the prom last year I was asleep when something hot and wet on my cock woke me up. It was Mary Beth giving me a blow job — and she was no amateur...” 

I do have criticisms of the book, whilst a gently simmering plot is fine, by chapter sixteen it seemed we were more involved in the author's analysis about being gay than the story. There are some scenes that don’t ring true, in particular when Antwon relates his personal history in detail. He is after all an employee, and has only met Marc briefly.
One can suspend belief when it comes to the country club set, the amount of wealth on display, even the ready acceptance of a poor boy as part of the ‘clan,’ but some of the interaction between the friends around issues of being gay and or black, are a little off key, even tending towards stereotypical.

By the time we reach chapter nineteen, not quite one third of the way through, the mundanity of the narrative is beginning to swamp the story.  “Yeah, well, I think a swim is in order,” I said as I piled out of bed and ran — literally — to the toilet. I finished my business, went back to the room...

“After the necessary time on the toilet, I washed my hands and splashed cool water on my face and was ready to go.”

The author really is almost describing every little detail and the appeal of the vibrant action filled start is waning. One more account of Marc and Justin's sexual interaction will be one too many.
This book has a lot about rationalising gay relationships and imparting knowledge to teenagers about how to have gay sex. A sort of gay relationship and sex manual for the young, couched in a novel with religious overtones. “I suddenly had an image of the crucified Christ, only it was Sandy on the cross. I wondered if Adam was one of the thieves and, if so, whether or not he was the penitent one.”

Overall, for me the novel is far too long, the good parts of the story, the action were overwhelmed by the daily trivia. There was too much reflection by the author using his characters to debate what being homosexual means. There was too much sex, too much divergence from the core story, which delays the plot moving forward. I think it would have been a much better book were it a third as long and I wouldn't have had to skip through large chunks. But read it for yourself, because some people will love being totally immersed in this world and will welcome the detail.


the interview

I understand that you are or were an Episcopalian minister? Certainly there is some religious discourse vis a vis homosexuality and the church, there are also a few references, such as the “narthex” (an architectural element typical of early Christian and Byzantine basilicas and churches) a word I had to look up. Having this background must have influenced your story writing?

Of course, any experience influences one's writing one way or the other.

Leaving aside the religious dimension, you are also a Doctor of Psychology, and there is some debating the state of being homosexual in the book. Something which you subtly introduce via the storyline. I presume this was intentional?

My degree is a PhD, Doctor of Philosophy and yes, the debating homosexual is intentional.

I must admit to finding your book long, a personal view, some readers may enjoy being immersed in the detail of the characters everyday life, but I felt the action at the start was dissipated by the minutiae of ordinary life. Did you plan the novel to be this detailed, or did it just emerge like that?

This novel, as well as all my writing tends to be very detailed. While there is always an element of non-reality, I strive for a sense of "It could have happened."

Elizabethton is a real town in Tennessee about 20 miles through the Cherokee Forest to North Carolina. Did you choose to locate your story there because you know the area? Could you also answer the question, why Elizabethton Tarheels, because looking up Tar Heels I was referenced to a North Carolina men's basketball team?

The setting is actually based on Elizabeth City, NC., but given a fictitious name to allow flexibility.

When we reach the end of the book, after a number of adventures and quite a large character list, a lot has happened, but as you admit yourself not everything is tied up and resolved. This does beg the question how much of the novel was planned, how much was spontaneous, and how did you determine where to end the story?

I guess the novel is about 50% planned and 50% spontaneous. Based on the events in the story, it seemed to be a good stopping place.
This book was written some ten years or so ago. At the time you did hint at a possible sequel. I wonder did you ever consider revisiting the characters and continuing their story?

I considered and started working on a sequel, but nothing came of it.
Being one of your earlier novels, and also along the way you picked up an editor, how do you think you writing has changed, if it has, over the years?

Not sure except the sex scenes have generally become less graphic.

I guess we have to leave it at that. I would like to thank Sequoyah for sharing a few words with us.


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I generally enjoy Sequoyah's stories, and not only those published on the Castle. Most my Network arbitrators find eminently appropriate for teenage readers. This, admittedly early story of the author's has proven itself not to be among the more popular with this age group, I must say. And from Sequoyah's seemingly dismissive replies to Will King's thoughtful questions posed to him, it is as if the writer ialmost wants to disown the story himself. 

Learning from Will King in this attempted interview that Sequoyah comes from an academic background explains a lot. Those of us who cross over from the rarified atmosphere of Academe into the writing of popular narrative have to unlearn the instinctive pull ever to cross each T and dot every I. I am eternally conscious of my own shortcomings in this direction. Sequoyah's later stories, in the most part, illustrate how quickly he honed this story-telling craft of leaving some things unsaid.


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