By Mandy Kowallek
It is late in the evening. The chirping crickets can be heard through the glass windows. The clicking of a keyboard can be heard down the hallway. Every once in a while, the clicking will stop, but it always starts back up again soon after. Looking in the room, you can see a man of about fifty years of age, sitting at his desk. He is not a very organized person—papers are sprawled out all over. A copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn sits at the corner of his desk, looking weathered and old. The reflection of his computer screen is visible in his oversized glasses. His fiery orange hair is in dire need of a comb. Sometimes, he will reach up with his hand and massage the place where his glasses were resting on his nose. His tie is no longer around his neck and is now tossed over the back of a chair. His shirt’s top button is undone and the sleeves are rolled up to his elbows. This is the average day for Chuck H. Foertmeyer.
However, this is not even Foertmeyer’s nine to five job. He makes his living as the manager of Perry & Derrick’s Factory Outlet Store. He also maintains web pages and writes novels on the side.
Foertmeyer began writing web pages about six years ago. He had no idea where or how to begin. So he taught himself HTML(a language used to write web pages) and went from there. Then about two years ago, he started writing novels. And now he has three books on the shelves and two more on the way.
He received his education in New Mexico. During this time in his life, he spent many days of the week roaming the countryside. Foertmeyer explored the majestic Rocky Mountains and had the opportunity to wander the New Mexican deserts. These places provide the settings for his stories.
Foertmeyer began writing because of his daughter. She was writing a novel at the time and he picked it up and began to read the first couple of chapters. From that point on, he decided that he was going to give writing a shot also. Ironically enough, Foertmeyer didn’t even really enjoy writing in high school and college. To him, “it was just another task that had to be done”. But there was one part of writing that he did enjoy. There was one teacher of his that made the students keep a daily journal of their experiences. This was where Foertmeyer found the beginnings of his most of his books including his first novel, Carver: High Mountain Tragedy.
While all of Foertmeyer’s books are fiction, they are composed of different genres of writing—from fantasy to adventure. His writing has a certain flow to it that seems to come naturally and from the heart. He tries to make the dialogue in his stories sound natural—like something you would hear if you were walking down the street. But the plot of the story is never natural. He enjoys writing about the supernatural and the mysterious. However, his main goal is just to provide the reader with an escape from reality. “I try to interject some interesting information in each book, making it a part of the story, but other than that I want them to simply be able to leave reality for a while and escape into the worlds of my characters,” says Foertmeyer.
Sometimes even Foertmeyer will envelop himself with his characters. He admitted that he will hit a writer’s block and can’t manage to scrounge up another ounce of thought for his book. He will sometimes get an idea from a dream that he had about his characters the night before.
Foertmeyer says that he gets his inspiration for writing from Mark Twain. People have even gone so far as to say that his writing style is a combination of Homer Hickam and Mark Twain. “[Being compared to Mark Twain] is the highest complement someone can give me. I feel great when I hear that!” says Foertmeyer.
Chuck gets a rush out of seeing his finished book on the shelf. All of the hard work and toiling around to find just the right words to express the idea he wanted is sitting there in print for the entire world to see. Anyone can walk right up and buy his blood, sweat and tears for $23.00. There is something about putting himself out there that scares him so much, but the feeling he gets in the end is completely worth it. “[It feels] fantastic!(…)You have serious fears that you will be told that it is junk when you have never shared your writing with the public before,” says Foertmeyer, “The first good review doesn’t even convince you that you are a good writer. It takes several professional opinions before you yourself begin to believe it.”
As for giving advice to anyone who is just starting out in writing, Foertmeyer advises them to actually finish their first book. He says that finishing is the hardest part of writing. And that this is probably because the person is afraid of uncharted territory. They don’t know if they will be ridiculed for their work and they are scared. But they are probably even more afraid of being accepted and successful. But he urges them to “jump in feet first and do it! It is extremely rewarding.”
Looking into the future, Foertmeyer sees himself continuing his writing career for many years to come. Foertmeyer says, “I hope to continue writing until I can no longer see the keys on the keyboard!” One can only hope that this kind of passion is prominent throughout the rest of the writing community. And that the man sitting at his computer with the fiery orange hair and oversized glasses will continue to grace the bookstores with the presence of his work.