Native Texan, grew up in Houston…former journalist, published author of several articles in the Handbook of Texas Online, sponsored by the Texas State Historical Association, of which he’s a member (http://www.tshaonline.org)…also reviewed books for TSHA’s scholarly journal, the Southwestern Historical Quarterly…senior member of Society for Technical Communication; served as president of the Houston chapter…author of Spring Branch (Arcadia Publishing, 2011), a pictorial history of the West Houston suburb…web site: http://www.georgeslaughter.com.
And now let’s have a Tiny Talk to learn more about George.
ME: If you could spend a day with a book character who would it be and why?
GEORGE: Since I write non-fiction, I’ll say Warren Buffett. I’m reading Alice Schroeder’s book The Snowball, which is a really well-done biography of him. Among other things, he and I both like American dishes such as hamburgers and Cokes. Perhaps he could offer some good investment advice!
ME: Finish this sentence. A perfect day would be . . .
GEORGE: Get my writing assignment (whatever it is) off my desk by day’s end. (After so many years writing, that’s how I’ve come to judge whether I’ve had a good day or not—did I get it off my desk, whether to the reviewers, the editor, or to production). Have a nice dinner with my wife, Kathy. A pleasant evening reading. If I’m watching television, either a good documentary, or watching my favorite sports teams, or sometimes even something on HGTV. Kathy and I have been watching classic movies such as Rear Window and The African Queen.
ME: Are you a Pantser or a Plotter?
GEORGE: Historical writers tend to be plotters, because your writing follows a chronology. With a biography, for example, your character is born, grows up, does his or her thing, and then dies. Experience teaches that you can have a general idea of where things should go and that you can write by the seat of your pants without too much trouble. But the structure must first be there.
ME: If you could sit and have dinner with a famous author who would it be and why?
GEORGE: Just one? Let’s see…H.W. Brands, Robert A. Caro, David McCullough, or Alice Schroeder, to name four. Their work is thoroughly researched and thoughtfully written. Read McCullough’s book about Harry Truman, for example, and you’re there at that terrible moment when Eleanor Roosevelt tells Vice President Truman that President Franklin Roosevelt is dead. “Is there anything I can do for you?” Truman asked. “Is there anything we can do for you?” Mrs. Roosevelt replied. “For you are the one in trouble now.”
ME: What is your greatest accomplishment?
GEORGE: While I’ve had many blessings about which I’m thankful, I agree with Frank Sinatra: the best is yet to come.