Tuesday, April 5, 2016

David Edmonds - Writing What He Knows

David Edmonds has had enough fascinating experiences to fill several lifetimes. This Tarpon Springs writer’s life has taken him from a historic Civil War homestead in Louisiana to a remote Indian village in Peru to war-torn Nicaragua and many other exotic stops along the way. He is a former marine, Peace Corps volunteer, senior Fulbright professor, academic dean and U.S. government official. As an author whose life reads like fiction, Edmonds can keep readers spellbound by writing what he knows.

Edmonds grew up in Louisiana and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Spanish and a Master’s degree in Economics from Louisiana State University. He studied at Notre Dame, Georgetown and George Washington University and earned a Ph.D. in International Economics from American University. His assignments with the US Government took him to Latin America during the turbulent 80s and 90s. There he experienced cultures where assassinations, terrorism, torture and kidnapping were commonplace. This would eventually provide fodder for his fiction.

“I’ve been a writer most of my adult life,” Edmonds says. “Even though I majored in Economics, I took creative writing courses everywhere.”
But it was returning to his home in Louisiana that kick-started his literary career. “My family home was used as a hospital during the Civil War, so I decided to do some research and write about it. What started as an article became a 600 page non-fiction book titled Yankee Autumn in Acadiana which won a literary award from the Louisiana Library Association.

Edmonds followed this with four more history books and a couple of ghost-written books, but it was a chance encounter in a tiny Chilean village that led to his first novel.“I was in the Peace Corps stationed in a miserable little Indian village,” he recalls. “The weather was bad, and I was sick much of the time. While I was recuperating in a hospital, I met this beautiful, classy Peruvian exchange student. After I returned to my village, I got the idea of writing a romance.” This was the genesis of his first novel, Lily of Peru, which wouldn’t be completed for another 20 years.

During those years, Edmonds often wondered about the woman’s fate. “I tried to get in touch with her a few times and often fantasized about linking up with her. Then I met my lovely wife, Maria, and lost all interest in her.” He didn’t, however, lose interest in his novel. Published in 2015, Lily of Peru garnered four awards, including a prestigious Royal Palm Literary Award of the Florida Writers Association, a Readers' Favorite Award, and an International Latino Book Award.  Lily of Peru tells the story of USF Professor Mark Thorsen who travels to war-torn Peru to meet with Marisa, an old love from his Peace Corps days. When he discovers that Marisa is connected with Shining Path, a terrorist organization, he sets out to learn the truth while defending himself against government agents, anarchists, soldiers and hostile jungle tribes in an adventure that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

His second thriller, which was just published by Peace Corps Writers, is titled The Girl of the Glyphs (co-written with his wife). “When I was in Nicaragua, I worked with former Sandinista soldiers,” Edmonds says. "One of them hid in a cave during the war between contras and  Sandinistas.  The cave had once been a Mayan jade mine and its walls were covered with mysterious symbols. He asked for my help in finding it, and thus began an arduous journey. My wife suggested I write a book about it.”

In the novel, a young woman from the Smithsonian hears of a cave containing writings about a mysterious holy man. She finds herself chased by a group of tomb looters who think the cave contains a lost treasure. Edmonds has also written a prequel to The Girl from the Glyphs. Set in the 1740s, The Heretic of Granada tells of a priest who escapes the Inquisition and takes up with pirates to get revenge on his enemies.

It is the  element of realism that makes Edmonds’s books particularly compelling. “All my stories are based on personal experiences that have been fictionalized,” he says. “One of the things I love about writing is re-living an experience through my protagonist, embellishing it and having it turn out the way I wanted it.” He hopes his books will give readers a window into life in South and Central America and the Caribbean. “We complain about the United States,” he says, “but we’re lucky we don’t have to go through the things they do.” Thanks to Edmonds, readers can live the experience from the safety of their armchairs.

For more information, go to www.dedmonds.com or David's author page on amazon.com.

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