I've known him for years:
bf oswald began his latest career, that of novelist, at the
age of 72 when his first novel, Echoes
of Ellen, was published. This novel was nominated for
both the National Book Award and the eBook equivalent, an EPPIE.
It is a story framing stories about peoplea romance embracing
a variety of lives and places, problems encountered and problems
A year later his second novel, Flood:
A Saga was published, which he claims is his favorite.
In this work oswald shows his ability as a careful researcher
as he constructs the life of a young man who builds his fortune
from a ten-dollar land grant on the Iowa prairie into a prosperous
one thousand acre farm and while doing so helps to build a railroad,
a farmers equity, a school, and a town. Two more generations
follow; the last becomes victim of a catastrophic flood that
destroys the farm and a family. At the end, perseverance triumphs,
lives are remade, and the land becomes a haven for wildlife and
Five Women In Black,
his third novel, was actually begun in 1982 then misplaced. The
manuscript was discovered in 2007 and finished. Is it a mystery
and a romance, or a romance embracing a mystery? It is the story
of a bright young woman who does a dumb thing; falls in love
with a married man. Although this is an oft-repeated theme in
literature, there is a twist that involves the Mafia, and a Pacific
island. It is a great read that begs a sequel.
In The Footpath,
bf oswald drew on his years of experience as a therapist to create
his protagonist, a widower who is stalked by a psychopathic former
patient and saved from death at the last minute by charming and
resourceful widow. If I were to pick a genre for this fast read
by bf oswald, I would choose 'Suspense'. His other novels are
each very different from each other.
Read on as the author talks about his work in detail and then
provides a look at the twists and turns of his own life, experiences
that created the canvass upon which his writing is scribed.
As yet he has not gained the readership his immeasurable talent
deserves. It maybe that his eclectic writing does not easily
find a home in any genre less broad than 'fiction'. That is a
shame because I guarantee that once you start reading one of
his novels, you will have difficulty putting it down.
Johnny DeSilver, Freelance Critic
During a recent visit to the campus bf oswald was interviewed
by the editor of the North Central Technical College's Creative
CJ: When I read Echoes
of Ellen I couldn't decide if it was a collection
of short stories masquerading as a novel or a novel showcasing
your short stories. Which is it?
bfo: Actually Ellen began as a collection of short stories
that I had written over the last decade, many of which I had
submitted to various publications with zero success. So I decided
to bundle them and sent out query letters to several publishers
who accepted short story collections. Deb Staples of SynergEbooks
expressed interest and suggested that I build the stories into
a plot. So Bill and Ellen's story, a short story in itself, was
written last with the result you noted. I'd say that your second
suggestion is closer to the mark.
CJ: Is Echoes of
Ellen your first published work?
bfo: Yes by a national publisher. As you may remember, you
included many of my essays, poems, and short fiction in the Journal.
Also I have a few local newspaper articles to my credit.
CJ: Why short stories and not longer works?
bfo: Over my adult life everything I wrote had to be short,
beginning with the stories I had to write for my creative writing
courses in college. When I was a federal investigator my reports
had to be short and concise; sermons are by necessity short complete
works, as are lectures. Also I have always liked short stories
especially those by Poe, Singer, London, and O'Henry.
CJ: SynergEbooks is primarily an electronic press. What is
your opinion of that form of publishing?
bfo: Frankly I had difficulty accepting that method at first.
During the majority of my life, a book has been a printed page
between two covers. Although I spend a lot of time looking at
a computer screen, I use a word processing program to write and
all of my research is done on line, I still like to be comfortable
when I read for pleasure. Now with an e-reader I can read ebooks
comfortably almost anywhere. Ellen was first published in print
because my publisher needed six print copies in order to enter
it in the National Book Awards. Subsequently she entered an e-copy
in the EPPIE Awards. Unfortunately Ellen did not place in either.
I am amazed at how large e-publishing has become. To date, as
far as I know, there are at least a million or more titles available
for download (including Ellen) from Amazon alone. And Amazon
is only one of many outlets. The increasing popularity of e-readers
has made this possible.
CJ: How difficult was it to get Ellen published?
bfo: Initially not that hard. I sent out two dozen query letters
and received two offers. Getting Ellen ready for publication
was the real challenge. I tend to be a perfectionist. I rewrote
almost every story, including Bill and Ellen's, many times, two
stories twelve times each, and would have done more had I not
had a deadline. I re-edited the first edition of the print copy
also for a second printing. It was far easier to write the stories
than it was to prepare them to be published.
CJ: What's next?
bfo: My second novel, Flood,
A Saga, was published as an eBook in May (09) by Synerge.
And I am currently waiting for the cover art to be completed
for a novel, Five
Women in Black that I wrote while on the faculty
here almost thirty years ago, resurrected at my wife's suggestion.
It is scheduled to be published in June (10) if the cover is
CJ: You said you wrote Five
Women in Black thirty years ago but you are just
now getting it ready for publication. Why is that?
bfo: At the time I was beset by a number of personal problems.
I had been carrying the kernel of FWIB around in my
head for a while before that and decide to start writing it as
a diversion. When I am working I lose all track of time and block
out everything around me. I wrote the novel on a legal pad in
the faculty lounge in Ovalwood Hall here on campus. The lounge
was usually deserted and quiet and it was only a few hundred
steps from the college library where I did my research for the
story. When I started dating my present wife, she took a interest
in the book and typed the manuscript. After I bought my first
computer, I transposed the book to floppies, stored them and
forgot about the project. With both Ellen published and Flood
soon to be, my wife urged me to resurrect FWIB and
CJ: You mentioned research. Do you still use libraries?
bfo: No. There is a wealth of information available to me on
the Internet. What used to take me hours in a library I can now
accomplish in a matter of minutes, electronically storing whole
articles for referencing without having to write a single note.
CJ: What do you envision in your future?
bfo: I plan to keep writing as long as my age and health permit.
I've got a lot of stories to tell and I enjoy telling them. If
I am fortunate, one of my books will gain national attention.
But there are a lot of writers publishing a lot of books so the
competition is fierce. Having Ellen published was very important
to me; I always dreamed of seeing my name on a book cover. I
never imagined it would appear first on the label of a CD. In
any event I am now a published author and proud of it.
CJ: Are your books selling?
bfo: Slowly. My wife and I are the marketing team and we spend
as much time as possible looking for ways to make the reading
public aware of my work. Without the advertising resources of
a large publisher it is difficult and time consuming. I am also
at a disadvantage in this McClone environment because I write
outside of most of the established genres and its hard
to get a people who read one genre exclusively to venture outside
of that box to read one of my novels.
WHO I AM, WHERE I'BE BEEN, WHAT I'VE DONE
CJ: Thank you Professor Oswald. I'm looking forward to reading
more of your books.
I was born in Lakewood, Ohio in 1934 and moved to Bay Village
when I was six where I lived until at sixteen I became a cadet
at Randolph Macon Academy, Front Royal, Virginia, graduating
in 1953. I then attended Allegheny College, Meadville, Pennsylvania
leaving at the end of my freshman year to join the Air Force
where I served first as a drill instructor and later as a water
safety instructor and lifeguard. Four years later I returned
to Allegheny, graduating in 1960 with a Bachelor of Science degree
in biology, and a minor in creative writing.
Immediately after graduating I began a four-year stint as
a Federal investigator leaving the FDA in 1964 to attend graduate
school, first at the Oberlin Graduate School of Theology and
finishing at The Methodist Theological School in Ohio where I
earned a Masters degree in counseling psychology.
During my working life, I have been a short order cook, printers
devil, dairy farmhand, high school teacher, minister, contractor,
psychotherapist and hypnotherapist, and college professor now
emeritus. During my career as a member of the faculty of North
Central State College, Mansfield, Ohio I taught twenty-three
different courses that covered all aspects of human development
and behavior from birth to death, creating eighteen of these
courses for the nursing, radiology, human services, and behavioral
science curriculums. During my tenure I also authored two textbooks,
one on human sexuality, the other on aging, and I contributed
poetry, essays, and short fiction to the college literary journal.
After I retired from teaching, I continued as a trustee of
the Mansfield Sailing Club and then as Commodore, and I also
became a member of SCORE. In 2002 I resigned from MSC and SCORE
and returned to contracting. I also began to write my first novel,
Echoes of Ellen, published in 2008 and nominated for both a National
Book Award and an EPPIE (eBook award). Flood A Saga (2009),
Five Women in Black (2010), The Rental (2011), Terribly Twisted
Tales (2012), The Footpath (2014), Vinni's Bed (2014), Short
Stories by a Short Author (2015), A Pearl of Great Worth (2016),
and Johnny DeSilver, FDA (2017), followed Echoes of Ellen. My
latest novel is Ghost Haven (2019).
My wife Cynthia and I are the parents of four daughters and
a son, and we also enjoy our seven grandchildren, three great
grandsons and four great granddaughters. We are Florida residents
but spend a part of our summers visiting family and friends in
other parts of the country.
I welcome your questions and comments addressed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
and will respond as soon as possible.