Storytelling comes naturally to fantasy writer
Fiction writers often lament the painstaking difficulty of their craft.
Before his fantasy fiction series, George Mead published his first book, “Ethnobotany of California Indians.’’ - Observer photos/PHIL BULLOCK
Not La Grande fantasy fiction author George Mead.
The versatile and prolific writer lets his characters do the heavy lifting. When Mead sits down with pen and paper it is like he is switching on a cerebral television screen. His cast needs little prompting before its audience of one.
“I give them one sentence and everything else follows. The characters take over and everything falls in place from there. It is fun, I never know what my characters are going to do,’’ Mead said.
The personalities he speaks of are the stars of a series of four books Mead has penned since 2003. The series, “From Grandeville — A Tale,’’ describes the adventures of John Tinker, a man in his mid 30s from rural Oregon. Tinker and his associates “enter the universes of worlds populated with a wide range of cultures and cultural attributes.’’
The personalities Mead creates are, like the author himself, inventive and filled with unique perspective.
“The characters are visual and larger than life ... without a doubt an extraordinary imagination...,’’ Writers Digest said of Mead and his work in a review of “Portal,’’ the first book of the La Grande author’s series.
The books that have followed in the “From Grandeville — A Tale,’’ series are “Lair,’’ “Search’’ and “Not Again,’’ which came out in late 2007.
Tinker is the lead character in each book, a man who is living a quiet life in rural “outback’’ Oregon when he is periodically swept off to exotic worlds. Worlds like:
• Stumpf: a land of a gigantic race of beings that have adapted to a world of rock and heat.
• Blurratha: a dwelling place of the Wood With. These are “a secretive folk’’ who live in a land filled with big trees and expansive spaces underneath.
• The Six Lands: a location with half a dozen vast islands separated by small inland seas. An endless sea surrounds the six islands.
• Murklan Obscuratan: the home of Divineal of Thantala, a witch clan.
Local readers, of course, are unfamiliar with the worlds Tinker travels to but they can connect to Tinker’s home town of Grandeville, a small rural city of 8,000 people in Northeast Oregon. Readers who know Mead, a retired U.S. Forest Service archaeologist, will see pieces of the author in Tinker. In “Not Again,’’ Tinker is writing a book about Chinese martial arts when he is swept away to another universe. This will strike some as autobiographical because Mead has studied the martial arts and done extensive research on the history of the Chinese in Eastern Oregon.
Mead has an expansive knowledge of many elements of local history including the Oregon Trail. He periodically gives talks at meetings of the Union County Historical Society, presenting detailed historical accounts without referring to a single note.
Readers looking for local history will not find it in the “From Grandeville — A Tale’’ series, but they will find humor and insight.
“George Mead is a natural storyteller with a particular flair for the unique and the memorable, and writes with a great deal of wit and more than just a bit of wisdom too,’’ wrote a critic for the Midwest Book Review web site, www.midwestbookreview.com .
Each book in Mead’s fantasy fiction series was published by E-Cat Worlds publishing, which the author created.
The author created E-Cat Worlds in 2000 to publish his first book, “Ethnobotany of California Indians.’’ The book provides an in-depth look at how American Indians in California used the plants in their environment.
The creation of E-Cat Worlds to print this book gave Mead the infrastructure needed to publish his “From Grandeville — A Tale’’ series.
“Ethnobotany of California Indians’’ is one of two non-fiction books Mead has written and published via E-Cat Worlds. The second was the 318-page “A History of Union County,’’ which came out in 2006. The book was written in part to dispel a number of long-accepted but apparently false accounts of Union County history.
George Mead poses with his books. The series, “From Grandeville — A Tale,’’ describes the adventures of John Tinker, a man in his mid-30s from rural Oregon. Tinker and his associates “enter the universes of worlds populated with a wide range of cultures and cultural and cultural attributes.’’ - Observer photos/PHIL BULLOCK
Mead dispels myths such as the belief the Chinese here worked only as miners or ran restaurants and laundries.
“This is bogus,’’ Mead said. “I tried to cut through the stereotype and show who they really were.’’
The author uses information from the censuses of 1870 and 1880 in achieving this. The censuses indicate that the Chinese of Union County also worked as blacksmiths, tailors, shoe makers, gardeners, farm hands, druggists, doctors and many other things. Chinese worked all of these jobs in the fall and winter when the mines were closed.
The census information makes it clear that the Chinese were much bigger parts of this and other communities than many people realized.
“People don’t realize that the Chinese had a major role in the development of the West,’’ Mead said.
Mead also dismisses, in “A History of Union County.’’ the long-accepted story that a stage coach station once operated at Telocaset when it was known as Antelope more than a century ago. In the book Mead makes a convincing case against it ever having existed.
Mead does not have any more local history books planned but he hopes to continue adding volumes to his “From Grandeville — A Tale series ’’ Mead’s fifth book of the collection will come out later this month. It will be one of many more to come for Mead, who cannot envision the day he will tire of writing fantasy fiction.
“I’m having a good time. I do this for fun. I enjoy my characters.’’
For information on Mead’s books go www.ecatworlds.com .