Friday, September 30, 2022

New Novelist (Sutton L. Avery) Turns Negative History Into Literary Gold

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*There’s an adage that declares “Everybody has at least one good novel in them.” So when Sutton L. Avery captured his imagination on paper and allowed a few friends to read it, he received favorable feedback.

“They were intrigued by the little bit of story line I had developed,” Avery said, and he was encouraged to keep writing. Still, you can’t always rely on family and close friends for honest critiques. Just ask most of the contestants who show up for American Idol tryouts. So Avery took it a step further and sent a few chapters of his manuscript to a literary agent who confirmed the budding writer could be onto something big!

For Avery, who had fallen on hard times after separating from the U.S. Navy, that was the best news he had received in some time. After the military, Avery was hired as a flight attendant in early 2000. He had packed all his worldly possessions in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio, moved to Dallas for training and to start his new career. Just after a year at his new job, the 9-11 terrorist attack happened. Businesses closed, airlines stopped hiring and Avery – with hundreds of other new hires – got laid off. Before too long, his unemployment checks ran out.

“I couldn’t afford to pay my rent. So I had to move out. I ended up homeless, living under a tollway bridge” in Oak Lawn, a section of Dallas.“I used to beg for money at the stop light,” Avery remembered. When the handouts ran low and depression set in, this once proud military veteran confessed he planned to commit suicide.

Avery said he witnessed a lot of mental illness and drug use at homeless shelters and didn’t want to succumb to either. But living on the street had its own dangers: Avery had to use the bathroom at a nearby fast-food restaurant as his own. And he had to fend off offers for prostitution on a regular basis. He said it got so bad he picked up a razor off the street and promised himself if it didn’t get better soon, he would end it all.

“I felt as if I had a demon assigned to me telling me to ‘do it, just do it! One night I was about to cut my wrist and go to sleep under the bridge when a lady who was stopped at the stop light saw what I was about to do.”

Avery said when the woman got out of her car the headlights blinded him, and all he saw was a shadowy figure coming towards him. She stopped him from slicing his wrist and took him home with her to get him off the streets. For the next year Avery was a guest in the woman’s home. He stayed in her daughter’s room who was away at college and worked odd jobs around the woman’s properties in exchange for a roof over his head and food.

At that time she helped him get a job at the newly built Gaylord Texan Hotel in the room service department. He said that’s where he learned customer service skills. When Avery started making decent money, she helped him repair his credit and purchase his first home. It was at that time Avery said he started to write theatrical plays. He used his own money to pay for the plays

sutton l avery
Sutton L. Avery

and managed to produce a handful before he had to stop for lack of funds. That’s when he decided to focus on writing books as a cheaper way to showcase his talents.

“My experiences have taught me never to give up on anything that you want in life,” said Avery, who returned to his flight attendant job some years ago and lives in a new high-rise condo just blocks away from the tollway bridge where he almost took his life.

In between work trips and other responsibilities Avery managed to finish his first book. “Out of Ashes,” published in January 2013, received rave reviews from celebrities and anonymous readers alike. Oprah Winfrey endorsed his book, which is one of the top selling fiction novels on Amazon with a 4.6 of of 5 star rating. “Great Book!,” “Love It,” and “Fantastic Read,” are a few of reader comments. Critiques from strangers sometimes are more reliable than those of family and close friends.

The story line is set during the civil rights area in one of the most segregated cities in America. It involves the Ku Klux Klan, rape and other real-life occurrences during that racially-charged era in history.

Although Avery’s publisher was quick to release his novel for internet downloads and in print for sale in bookstores across the country, the new author soon realized writing a riveting novel is just part of the equation: Promoting it is something else.

If an author is well-known, book stores line up to get on the schedule of events. For unknown authors such as Avery, he must become his own marketing machine. While his publicist lives in Los Angeles and focuses on the big-picture longevity of Avery’s projects, Avery lives in Dallas and concentrates on the daily operations of his growing empire. In March he plans to host a publishing party at Dallas’ Hilton Anatole hotel with simultaneous satellite parties in Miami and New York City.

In the three years since it was published, sales for “Out of Ashes” have been strong and steady. There are talks of turning the novel into a screenplay. And Avery has started writing the sequel. When he’s not flying the friendly skies, he’s scheduling book signings for the current novel, writing and promoting the second novel and negotiating movie deals for both. Eat your heart out, James Patterson.

Even though his circle of friends has grown to include music icons and Hollywood A-listers, Avery has remained focused.

“I want my books to be thought of as American classics read by everyone for years to come,” said Avery.

He knows that’s not going to happen overnight. Until it does, Avery will keep on writing, because he declares he’s got at least two more good novels in him. “Out of Ashes” can be found online at Amazon.com and in national chain bookstores.

Steffanie Rivers is a freelance journalist based in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex. Email her at info@steffanierivers.com to send comments, questions or for speaking inquiries.

 

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