Thursday, May 28, 2015

Meet Herbert L. Smith, Author of Hurricane Kingdom: A Starfire Mystery(Volume 3), as He Discusses Hi Love for Music

I have the pleasure of welcoming Herbert L. Smith to the blog today.  Herbert will be talking to us about music.  

Music has always been my life, my love, and my voice to the world. I love music of almost any kind - providing it actually speaks to me. Some music speaks loudly, other kinds have a lesser voice, and a few genres aren’t in my vocabulary at all. Those are the kinds I don’t understand. It’s not a matter of taste, it’s a matter of experience and identification with the music I hear.

I declare a love of good, old-style country music. I was raised on it, and among my first recollections are the country songs played on radio KMA – or possible KFNF- in Shenendoah, Iowa. At the beginning of memories, we lived near a creek called Tinklebranch in Glenwood, and my mother and her neighbor, Jessie, who lived on the other side of the creek, ran a poultry business out of Jessie’s back porch. I spent my days there, in Jessie’s big family room (although they didn’t call it that in those days) and took afternoon naps on a soft, old sofa across the room from the radio. I heard the sounds of country all day, even in my sleep, and it filled my head with satisfaction. I carry those sounds with me even now. I can also see the radio, and old wooden box, painted black, with white nobs and a lighted ‘dial’ that ran along the top. One of the nobs adjusted the marker that moved across the dial, which picked up the frequency of those stations. It was a magic box, for sure.

I also learned to love church music. A church stood on the opposite side of Green Street from our house, at its intersection with Hazel. I heard the old gospel songs there, with an occasional ancient hymn-tune thrown in. They were all sung country-style. It was the only kind of music the people there knew, and they sang lustily with the piano in the lead. The songs, with all the words to all the verses, became embedded in my memory. I still know all the verses of all the songs, even the ones I learned long after that. It became the way I remembered the music.

The piano is my truest voice. I didn’t start playing it until I was nine, but I understood a lot about music because I loved it beyond anything else, and as soon as I got hold of a piano and could take piano lessons, I was off and running! I never looked back. After years of study I became a pianist in my own right, but the earliest forms I learned from the radio and from church singing are still deeply ingrained in my memory and are a large part of my adoration of all things musical.

I retired from church music about five years ago, after nearly sixty years of work. I wouldn’t trade any part of it for anything else.

I should mention that my musical life, despite the fact that it was my favorite, was an avocation. My ‘real’ vocation - for those who might like to know - is linguistics, with English as my primary language. I taught in several universities around the world, and found it fascinating, but my greatest love, my truest love, is the piano.

Hurricane Kingdom
By Herbert L. Smith

Hurricane Kingdom:A Starfire Mystery(Volume 3)
Self Published
Paperback: 166 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1502527431

About Hurricane Kingdom:

The Hog Ranch near Hillville, Iowa, is a notorious place. All kinds of illegal ‘business’ prospers there. It’s a known hideout for the criminal element, and its proximity to Omaha is a major plus for the goings-on inside – and outside as well. The sturdy old log structure sits along the shoreline of the Missouri River; that mighty waterway flows just steps outside the back door and provides a good place to dispose of dead bodies. Set in the middle of the 1950’s, the tale of Hurricane Kingdom – who seems (at first) a minor character in the entire scheme of things – twists and forks along the muddy trails of the riverbank behind the Hog Ranch with its gambling Cellar, gigantic barroom, and a well-populated House on the top floor.

The quiet and somewhat dull town of Hillville is nearby but also a world away, exactly as the town and the Ranch both want it to be. Guy LeFevere and Caleb Starfire, the men who shoulder the burdens of the Starfire Detective agency, share the responsibilities of policing the town as well as all of Bogger County with an inept, portly and rather absurd sheriff, Fred Baylor. It’s a mixed match-up, but despite all the fuming and fumbling of the dull-witted sheriff, the detectives prevail, and more often than not the criminal element is subdued or eventually rendered harmless – and sometimes actually imprisoned. Frequently, however, the criminals inflict their deadly punishments upon each other. The 1950’s shine through the novel and offer a fun-filled romp through Hillville and its environs, creating renewed memories for those who survived that time, and a lesson in human history for those who missed all the fun.

About This Author:

Herb Smith, the author of eight books and counting, is a native of Glenwood, Iowa, the town that is the prototype for Hillville, which is featured in the Starfire Mystery Series. He has memories of people and events that stretch back to the 1940’s, and his memory is not only long, but detailed as well.

He has recreated the Iowa of his youth in the Starfire Mystery Series. (This is the third book in the series.) The stories are all set in the 1950’s, something of an American Golden Age, and the joys and struggles of life, along with the murders, are evident as the reader becomes ever more beguiled by that world.

Smith’s own life has included places far flung from Southwestern Iowa: Egypt and the Middle East, Argentina, Idaho, and even exotic central California, where he spent thirty five years (except for the time he was working outside the U. S.)

He is a musician – mostly church music – and has worked in all kinds of churches as organist, sometimes doubling as choir master as well. He also taught English as a Foreign Language in California Universities and other schools around the world. Currently, he lives the retired life in Eugene, Oregon, with his wife, Glenda. Their daughter Melanie and her husband William live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area. Theirs is a small but closely linked family, and they spend holidays and many other times together. They don’t have dogs, but Pippa, the colossal cat, reigns unquestionably in her California home.

Smith’s future remains bright. A new series, called the Quest Samson Mystery Series (based in Eugene), is in the works, as well as other unusual but interesting book projects, and he is considering some musical compositions that will add to his artistic credentials.

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