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Author Of Dog-Man Love Story Visits VGCC South Campus Class

Reviews of the first novel by Mike Gaddis – Jenny Willow – include such phrases as “beautifully told,” “a great dog story, a fabulous dog story,” and “destined to become one of the classics of modern literature.”

Students in Laura McCullough’s English Composition I class at Vance-Granville Community College’s South Campus received a treat recently when Gaddis, who lives in Creedmoor, was a guest lecturer in the class. He spoke to the students about his background, his writing career and his secrets of good writing. 

Gaddis, 60, said he enjoyed a “storybook boyhood” in the 1940s and ‘50s. “It was a rural background, where people cared for each other, and it was a time when people told stories, on the porch or around the fire,” he said. “I grew up impressed with how powerful words are, and I was intrigued by the telling of stories.”

Growing up hunting and fishing and loving the outdoors, Gaddis said he began writing professionally 37 years ago. “Writing has carried me to destinations I never imagined I’d see,” he said, adding he has hunted in Africa, throughout Canada and in Central America. Magazines have paid him to travel to those places, experience the hunting and write about his experiences.

In 1983, Audubon Magazine paid Gaddis $2,000 for his story, “Taking A Life,” which gained national attention and opened doors for him. He has also been published in Wildfowl, The Pointing Dog Journal and Wildlife in North Carolina, and for the past eight years has been senior editor for Sporting Classics magazine. Jenny Willow is his first book.

Gaddis said he writes and attempts to get published because he likes stories, and he likes trying to tell good stories. “It is the most challenging, most gratifying thing I’ve ever attempted in my life,” he said.

The author told the students that spelling, grammar, basic English and good vocabulary are tools everyone needs in order to write. As a person writes, a distinctive style emerges, Gaddis said. “I start with an idea, and I add, subtract, cut, whittle, and revise until, hopefully, I end up with something someone will enjoy reading.”

Gaddis and his wife of 38 years, Loretta, assistant coordinator of VGCC’s South Campus, keep horses and his beloved sixth-generation November setters. He says he lives with a healthy fear of “can I do it again? You’re never better than the last thing you did,” he said.

Basically, Jenny Willow is the story of an 83-year-old who loves setter dogs, the West Virginia mountains and hunting grouse. A twist of fate brings a brilliant English setter pup, Jenny, into his life and a story of a man’s love for a dog and a dog’s love for a man follows.

“Gratification comes when someone takes the time to read what you write and tell you they like it,” said Gaddis. Evidently, many people like what they have read in Jenny Willow. More than one reviewer said, “I hope Mike Gaddis writes another novel, and I hope he does it soon 

In the second photo above, Mike Gaddis, author of the hunting novel, Jenny Willow, discusses the fine points of writing with Sharon Ennis of Butner in the English Composition class at Vance-Granville Community College’s South Campus between Butner and Creedmoor.