The Maguire Minute

Welcome to The Maguire Minute, a place where I interview people I find interesting and ask questions off-the-beaten path. Scroll through the page and find interviews with folks such as Southern author T.M. Brown, C.S. Lewis scholar William O’Flaherty, and nonprofit founder and literary guru Kemie Nix. This edition’s guest is Celeste Duckworth.

Celeste Duckworth

Entrepreneur | Author | Business Launch Specialist

Phoenix, Arizona

To say Celeste Duckworth is a woman who wears several hats would not only be trotting out a tired cliché, but would also be an understatement. 

She is the CEO of Vertikal Alliance International. 

She is a poet whose work is featured on a mural in Phoenix. 

She is a business launch specialist, web guru, podcast host and publisher. 

What strikes me most about Celeste, though, is not her titles, her mutli-tiered media group or her podcasts. It is her relentless positivity and her desire to spread it. 

In a world where the web tends to thrive on click bait on the worst of humanity, Celeste’s efforts push forth the best of our species. 

Visit one of her sites ( I recommend ) and you will be overwhelmed by the uplifting nature of the headlines. Articles range from interviews with successful nonprofit founders to video interviews on international festivals, author profiles and thought leaders and influencers in the fashion and style arenas. 

A California native, she currently lives in Phoenix. When she is not busy managing one of her many creative pursuits,  she loves to travel, cook and spend time with family and friends.

Let’s dig a little deeper with Celeste.

Q: What is your favorite poem? 

A : My absolute favorite poem is “If” by Rudyard Kipling.  My grandfather recited it so much that all his children knew it by heart so hearing my mom recite it was awe-inspiring. I imagined he recited it to remind himself and his children of what was important in life.  

Celeste Duckworth. Here she clutches her Cancer Survivor Bracelet after the last Chemo treatment.

Q: If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead who would it be? 

A: I would love to spend some time talking to Nelson Mandela, no one really understood his vision and purpose and I would say sometimes God will put you in a place so you can hear from him, Mandela changed South Africa.

Q: What books are you currently reading? 

A: “Character Still Counts,” by Dr. James Merritt. I have watched Dr. Merritt for his teachings on Christ and this book has been so eye-opening especially when you question the integrity of individuals during this pandemic. When you push aside all the reasons why you like a certain person, you realize what really matters is their character – no matter race, creed, or color.  I am also reading, “Applying the Kingdom,” by Dr. Myles Munroe. The legacy he had in educating individuals about the Kingdom of Heaven and your role as a believer is just a must-read. Then there are the occasional books I read from authors we interview on our Author Program, “A Taste Of Ink LIVE.”  The most recent was German author Kevin Groh who is a popular author in Germany and is now translating his Science Fiction books into English. His most recent book is, “The Commander.” 

Q: Tell us about the VertiKal Life Publishing and its subsidiaries. What inspired you to launch this media group?

A: The original vision for Vertikal came from [the late] Norman Anderson. In addition to publishing four of my poems, Norman hired me to be a consultant working on various aspects of building Vertikal Magazine.

When he eventually asked me to become the publisher of Vertikal Magazine, it allowed me to expand on his vision for Vertikal to become an International Life Magazine. I identified with his mission to educate and encourage people through sharing stories of other creative and innovative individuals around the world.  The final spark for this legacy project came in 2014.

Norman had been ill, but still spent every day encouraging me and many others in all of our endeavors. When the letters of condolences came after he passed, I realized how much people depended on his message and how many had flourished with a daily dose. So, I took complete ownership of Vertikal. 

Within Vertikal we have many projects we are proud of, such as, the “Women on The Rise Program,” a radio show where we feature, for example, women pursuing their passions after leaving corporate America or maybe a stay-at-home mom with a great idea for other moms.

I’ve met many inspiring women, such as Tara Richter of Richter Publishing and Micki Esposito of Momentus Realty. Also, Laura Bulluck, CEO of the non-profit Hope’s Crossing that boasts a 92% success rate of at-risk women who do not return to their former lives. 

Here is a video featuring Hope’s Crossing, a nonprofit Vertikal Life contributes marketing services to.

The Reading Room (another radio show) was an idea that came about when my mom passed away. There were many nights my mom couldn’t sleep and listened to our weekly radio programs. The Reading Room was designed to give mature individuals a chance to experience the imagination-based entertainment of America’s Radio Days with online book readings that are set to music. We are hoping to expand this program with more authors donating their books and more wonderful readers to read those books. 

Then, we have Vertikal Media Group.  Small businesses owned by mature adults and women often need help in creating their digital presence online. So, we developed a small consulting section where we develop websites, mobile apps, and tools for marketing and promotion to help them become more efficient and sustainable.  

Going at it alone was easy because I have so many high-level skills. I was a Safety/Training Director for a large international company and I had an extensive computer programming background, but you realize at some point you need those soft skills like learning to do a financial budget, strategic planning, marketing, and even networking becomes a critical need that you have to learn as part of your toolkit. When you are working within your Purpose and Passion there is no struggle, only challenges to tackle.

 Our focus is always on our mission, core values, and what our purpose means to those we serve. We believe we are part of a global community that motivates us to inspire and empower our readers and to build cultural bridges toward understanding, and acceptance while helping small communities become sustainable. We do that by featuring creative and innovative individuals worldwide. Showing people  we truly are alike in many ways. Another aspect is educating people in a way that is non-judgmental but informative.

Celeste’s poem, “An Oasis in the Desert” is on wall of City of Phoenix Building. 

What sets us apart from most companies that we have had 10 years to continually study being a company that is 80% virtual. So we built an infrastructure to be able to run our company like it was a brick and mortar but looked for tools that would allow us to operate virtually. I lived in Ireland for three years and Norman had lived in France so before the magazine was founded we were working in areas where we had to learn to create a way to be in touch with clients worldwide. So we were always looking for better tools that allow us to work seamlessly on the internet and complimented our traveling as well.

I am probably most proud of a lot of our opportunities to be first in featuring creative and innovated individuals worldwide but I am proud of the culture of our company which is to keep team members focused on our purpose by having weekly team meetings and monthly staff meetings which can be pretty challenging when you have staff members in China and Europe. Through SKYPE we can discuss current issues and talk about the back story and how we can relate that story in a positive light to our readers.

Next year we hope to launch Teen Vertikal Media Camp and their first workshop along with a new teen magazine called Generations which will include not only interviews from inspiring teens but also the parents that have encouraged them to excel in their goals.

Q: You’ve interviewed Hollywood film stars to NBA basketball players. Is there any interview in particular that has meant a lot to you?

A:  The most inspiring and encouraging interview was with Marina Sirtis (Commander Troi) of Star Trek, I was hanging out at Phoenix Comic-Con, in my early years at Vertikal and hoping to get an on-the-spot interview with one of the many Sci-Fi actors there.  After everyone said to leave your card which I was sure they threw away.  Marina was the last person we saw.  She was so funny and nice and when I asked her if I could interview her for our program called “Woman on The Rise”.  She not only said yes she took us back to her Dressing Room and answered all my questions.  Man, I was so excited because my Dad was a huge Star Trek.  Not many people knew her backstory of coming to the U.S. with an RT ticket from Europe where her mom thought females who became actresses were whores and her father could only be supportive quietly. She spent all her money and just as she was packing her bags to go home, Star Trek called.  Two things I learned I needed if I was to continue with the magazine as an interviewer that day: patience and perseverance.

Celeste relishes family time. She and her granddaughter created this to spread joy with family during the holiday season.

Q: You spent part of 2018 in metro Atlanta undergoing cancer treatment. What did you discover about The South during that period? Are there any distinctive memories or im- pressions; surprises or revelations? 

A:. Georgia was a place I always wanted to visit because it is where most of my ancestors were from and I wanted an opportunity to visit. The Cancer was just a vehicle that got me there although most would not think of it that way.  From Pickens County and Jasper and a few points further west we have researched our family history back from Georgia back to County Mayo in Ireland, Benin, and Senegal in Africa.  It is hard to do, but Georgia has some amazing old records and newspapers that allowed us to tracker  family out of Georgia. We hope in 2022 to visit some actual towns and take a picture to add to our family album.  Although I never thought to move to Georgia, it has a story that speaks to me when hiking on trails or just riding on the back roads, and then there is the moody weather. Georgia is a truly great writing country and many individuals I have interviewed from Georgia say they love it because it is like living with a big family! 

Celeste has multiple social media accounts and websites – too many to list here – so we listed our favorites:

Vertikal Alliance International – Social Enterprise

Vertkal Life Magazine –

Living Vertikal Radio –

Vertikal Media Group –

Creative Ventures –

Teen Vertikal Media Camp –

Kemie Nix

Educator, Founder of Children’s Literature for Children, Advocate, Author, Journalist

Peachtree City, Georgia

Though she was born in The South in the 20th century, Kemie Nix does not embody the Hollywood stereotypes of a demure belle happy to sit on the sidelines of life.

Oh, yes, she is polite and dignified beyond reproach. But, she is also passionate, possesses a healthy dose of moxie and her determination coupled with a sharp wit has changed millions of lives across the globe.

Kemie – pronounced Kay-me – was a longtime teacher at schools at home and abroad for a total of 60 years.  

During those six decades, she founded Children’s Literature for Children, a dynamic nonprofit that built libraries at over 13 government schools and also distributed over 2 million books to young readers in multiple countries around the globe.

Kemie with two young readers.

Yes, you read that correctly: 13 libraries and 2 million books. 

 You can read about that mammoth task in her book, “A Book Teacher for Every School: Featuring Mount Kenya Academy,” available on

She was also a close friend of the American fantasy author Lloyd Alexander and cultivated a special relationship with him and his family.

Kemie now resides south of Atlanta in Peachtree City, where she maintains her work and passion for Children’s Literature for Children, enjoys reading, and devotes time to participating in her community and church. 

Enjoy this special interview. 

Q: What books are you currently reading? 

A: I am currently reading  “The Dutch House,” by Ann Patchett and “How to Raise an Elephant,” by Alexander McCall Smith. 

Q: I am always curious on what books do people re-read? What books do you re-read? 

A: The books that I reread occasionally are my three favorites:  “The Book of Three,”  by Lloyd Alexander “Surprised by Joy,”  by C.S. Lewis, and “My Family and Other Animals,” by Gerald Durrell. I love the entire canon of these authors –  except  “The Dark Tower” controversially attributed to C.S. Lewis.  My personal opinion is that he didn’t write it. As I had read almost everything by Lewis, I read “The Dark Tower,” and slammed shut the book, which I despised, and said, “I’m over Lewis.” I stayed away from him for a number of years and only came back after I heard the story that Walter Hooper had contrived to have it ghost written. (Walter Hooper is a whole other story. He may have ended up a good man, but I never ever admired or believed his many claims about Lewis. I may not be the only person he turned away from Lewis – which I consider unconscionable.)

Q. I’ve been so impressed with your work with Children’s Literature for Children. What fueled that initial push to found the organization? 

A: After I developed a reading program at the Westminster Schools [in Atlanta] called “Children’s Literature,” where I required the children to read real books – as opposed to textbooks – I became the children’s book editor for “The Atlanta Journal –Constitution.” The newest children’s books poured in. I was giving a huge number of books to the Westminster Elementary Library while pondering the fact that I was enriching a facility that was already rich. (“Them that has – gets.”) That felt very wrong. At the same time I was also wondering if the program would work with economically deprived children, and then I could distribute this multitude of riches (books) where they could do the most good.

(I had already been working  with incarcerated teenagers for years, visiting the prison every Sunday morning. They received as many books as I could acquire by hook or crook before I started reviewing, but they received many more review copies.) 

I chose Cook Elementary School, an Atlanta Public School in the Capital Homes housing project, as the school  in which to implement this program. Cook, filled with poor African-American children, was absolutely at the other end of the economic spectrum from Westminster. The principal, Betty Strictland, was welcoming and enthusiastic about the program. I also chose this school as it was  in the parish of my church – Central Presbyterian Church.

Westminster, which has always supported all my endeavors, granted me Mondays off so that I could work with the students at Cook. I arranged to teach all third through fifth grade classrooms in one day – eight classes. (I chose third grade as the entry level for Children’s Literature at both schools, because most children are capable of reading real books by third grade.) I soon discovered that the available books for Cook students to read were old and unappealing in both their library and their classrooms. Review copies couldn’t fill this need.

Pondering the situation, I knew that Westminster students had a wealth of books. As we had been working together for five years of children’s literature as an academic subject, I knew that most these children had developed  not only a love of books but had favorite books. I decided to ask the Westminster students to give, not their old, cast-off books, but one or two of their favorite books tot he Cook School program for potential readers to enjoy. (I dubbed this program, “Reader- to-Reader,” and it continues at Westminster to this day,)  These books were pre-selected by the children themselves. While we got some books of the “My Pink Pony” ilk, most of the books were ones that children enjoyed reading. This approach exceeded my  expectations,  grew wildly, reaching beyond the original schools. I realized we needed to be non-profit. I thought about a name, finally choosing “Children’s Literature for Children,” redundant but descriptive. As Lloyd Alexander, who is now a dear friend, liked the title, that clenched it.

“You!” That is the first thing Lloyd Alexander

ever said to me.

Kemie Nix

Q: Your work in these various countries with Children’s Literature for Children must have multiple ripple effects. Do you ever hear from or about any of the children who have been touched by your organization?

A: I have always maintained that no one knows if any educational program is successful until the children grow up and can tell you their evaluations. I have received positive reviews from all and sundry. I invite anyone to consult  with any of my alumni – (with one exception, and I’m not releasing his name!) I have received letters, and now that I am in contact with many of my former students on FaceBook, I have received enough accolades to feel very happy about the paths I have chosen in life. I am in touch with students from Westminster, Atlanta Public Schools, Kenya, and even a prison alumnae that I met in a movie restroom.

Q: What are you looking forward to the most as we ease out of the Pandemic?

A: The thing I am most looking forward to after the Pandemic is attending church in person. I have been a member of Central Presbyterian Church all of my life, and I miss it greatly.

Q: If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? 

A: If I could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, (besides Jesus, of course), I would choose “John, the Beloved Disciple.” I have often wondered how winsome and loving he must have been to go down in history as “Beloved” of Jesus.

Q: If you could spend a few hours in any fictional book, what book would that be and why? 

A: if I could spend time in any book, it would be, “My Family and Other Animals.” I consider Gerald Durrell’s life growing up on Corfu, the most perfect education any child has ever experienced.  I would love to be on Corfu and to follow that inquisitive boy on his rounds.

Q: Your relationship with Lloyd Alexander is so interesting and exciting. Can you tell us about how you met and how your friendship with him and his family blossomed through the years? 

A: “You!” That is the first thing Lloyd Alexander ever said to me. While attending a children’s literature conference at the University of Georgia, I heard rumors that Walt Disney’s company had mistreated Lloyd Alexander while working on the production of “The Black Cauldron. “ I was indignant and spent the entire trip home to Atlanta, driven by Florence Brissette, composing a letter telling Walt Disney off.

The Disney people sent my letter to Lloyd, suggesting, I’m sure, that he get this kook off their hands. Lloyd wrote me a letter explaining that he had a great relationship with the Disney people, and they had always been kind – but thanking me for my concern. I wrote him back saying, he was the only person who could stop me from blowing up the projection booth.

A couple of months later I attended the American Library Association conference in Chicago. I had been writing for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for some time, but I was green as grass. As a teacher, I didn’t know anything about press passes, so I had sought out a day pass and had written in my name and the newspaper on the small label. I was walking down a big hall alone when I saw Lloyd Alexander and his entourage approaching from the opposite direction. 

I said, “Mr. Alexander, do you have any projection booths you want blown up?” He stopped, baffled and tried to read the information on my small label.  

Kemie interviews Lloyd Alexander in this video.

I saw it dawn on him who I was, and he exclaimed, “You!”

I figuratively grabbed his coattails, and I never let go. I became a friend to both Lloyd and Janine, and they, having let the camel’s nose into the tent, welcomed me into the inner circle of their most intimate friends. There I remained until his death.

I am in the process of recording my correspondence with Lloyd right now. I made copies of my letters to him, including the infamous Walt Disney letter, and have his answers to my letters. He kept all of my letters to him in his correspondence files, which now reside in Brigham Young’s amazingly extensive and perfectly acclimatized archives. (The Vatican has nothing on the Mormons.)

I, however, am the only person who has Lloyd’s letters to me. At my advanced age, his letters might get lost unless I either will them or record them. I am enjoying visiting again with Lloyd Alexander.

Q: For decades, it seemed like Europeans had a – real or imagined – hold on fantasy literature genre. How do you think Alexander changed that and where do you see American fantasy literature landscape now? 

A: Under the auspices of Great Britain, all works of fantasy literature  that were deemed to be of any quality originated there – according to them.  That premise, however, was generally accepted by all English-speaking  countries – including ours. (it was as if childhood itself was faintly British  with Anglo-Saxon, American children growing up with “Mother Goose,” “Winnie the Pooh,” “Alice in Wonderland,” etc.)  The fantasy crown was claimed by British writers because to write “good” fantasy, one needed a sense of the depths of time which one apparently gained by osmosis growing up in the British Isles –according to them. Enter Lloyd Alexander with “The Prydain Chronicles” in the 1960s, and the dam broke.

The British did not give up their crown quietly. John Rowe Townsend, an influential  British children’s literature critic, savaged Alexander’s books as unworthy – mostly because they were very loosely based (and inaccurately, according to Townsend) on the “Mabinogion,”  a collection of Welsh myths. He literally stopped the series from receiving a wide audience in Great Britain – but not entirely. The readers who found the books loved them anyway – despite Townsend’s spleen. (Once, to Alexander’s supreme satisfaction, he ended up at a conference reception with Townsend and his son. The son sought out Alexander and told him how much he loved his books!)

The New York publishers, who were the gatekeepers of American literature – including children’s  literature – were as unthinking as the British. They accepted their role as the gatekeepers of all that was worthy of being published. (They still do. Just as Alexander unleashed American fantasy  – with help from the success of Madeline L’Engle’s, “Wrinkle in Time,” also published in the ‘60’s – technology opened the gates and loosened the New York publishers and editors undeserved hold on publishing. They have yet to accept this enormous change.) In the late sixties, however, American publishers sat up and paid attention to Alexander’s success. They became more open to American writers of fantasy, and  began to publish more. 

Now the fantasy field is a wonderful mixture of writers from all cultures and countries. New York is still a stronghold of publishing, but they have deservedly lost their grip.

 I, for one, am glad.

For more information on Children’s Literature for Children or to get in touch with Kemie:

William O’Flaherty

Author, Podcaster, C.S. Lewis scholar

Morgantown, West Virginia

I first virtually met William O’Flaherty roughly five years ago when I submitted the musical project Clint Meador and I created, “Art from the Silent Planet,” to him for review on his dynamic website, The album is inspired by Lewis’s first book in the Space Trilogy. O’Flaherty was kind enough to mention it on one of his web platforms and later he used the track, “Ransom Walks” as the music for his podcast, “200 Seconds in Hell With C.S. Lewis.” 

While I was impressed with his website(s) and podcast at the time, I was happily surprised when his book, C.S. Lewis Goes to Hell: A Companion and Study Guide to The Screwtape Letters”  was published a couple of years later. The in-depth analysis of Lewis’s magnifico work was not only sublime and well thought-out, but practical – a talent sorely missing in many pieces in that genre. 

This picture is courtesy of Lancia E. Smith of

O’Flaherty has continued to cement himself as a scholar in the Lewis pantheon with the book The Misquotable C.S. Lewis,” published a few years ago. 

In addition to writing for his website, he has contributed online articles to Christianity Today,, and the official C.S. Lewis blog by Harper Collins. His podcast, “All About Jack,” primarily features interviews about books related to C. S. Lewis and his YouTube channel (90 Seconds to Knowing C.S. Lewis) provides concise facts about Lewis. 

A resident of Morgantown, West Virginia, O’Flaherty is employed full-time as an in-home Family Therapist. He has also worked as a school guidance counselor and radio announcer and holds a Master’s degree in counseling from Appalachian State University.

O’Flaherty took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to catch up last week.

  • What music are you listening to right now?

Over the last few years I’ve been listening to contemporary hymns most of the time, but I have a range of tastes. I enjoy music from Switchfoot and older artists like Petra, Whiteheart, Daniel Amos and Phil Keaggy.

  • You’ve gained a reputation as an advocate for ‘truth’ in regard to C.S. Lewis’s quotes, ideas and the context in which he said such. What inspires you to pursue this? 

From a young age, I was fascinated with facts or trivia and not long after that I grew to also enjoy quotations. Back in the late 1990s I had a personal website that doesn’t exist anymore, and it included a weekly Lewis quote. Then when I started (which grew out of another online venture that is no longer active), I began sharing a quote by Lewis each day. This led to coming across quotes credited to Lewis from other places that I learned wasn’t actually by him. Several Lewis scholars encouraged me to collect my findings and write about it. And so I began to collect all of the writings by Lewis that were available electronically to help make my research easier. My inspiration to do this is my love of his works and knowing I wouldn’t want people to misquote me.   

  • What is your favorite C.S. Lewis book? Why? 

Sometimes, my favorite Lewis book is the one I’m currently reading. However, early on The Screwtape Letters became a favorite and that has remained to this day. The first time I read it I found it so insightful and an aid to my spiritual walk. That’s still true today and it’s why I love it so much. 

  • Your companion book to, ‘The Screwtape Letters’ is extensive. What fueled you to pursue this project?

Because Screwtape has always been my favorite Lewis book, it was only natural to want to help others enjoy it as much as I have. Just over 20 years ago when I lived in Kansas City, I filled in for a Sunday School class and got to pick what I could teach. I picked The Screwtape Letters and the foundation for the book was born then. 

  • Where are you looking forward to vacationing next? 

Before the Pandemic I didn’t do vacations very often, but a special spot is Oxford, England because of the connection to C.S. Lewis. My wife and I have been there twice and are looking forward to visiting again. 

Note: O’Flaherty actually interviewed noted C.S. Lewis scholar Walter Hooper in 2016. You can listen to that interview here

  • Your podcasts are fantastic. Who has been your favorite person to interview and why?

That’s like picking your favorite child and a good parent doesn’t. While I have had some people who I’d avoid having on the show again, let me play it safe and pick someone who is no longer with us; that is Dr. Bruce Edwards. While I’ve had other on the show more than him, I have some of the best memories recording a two-part podcast on the four volume reference work he edited called C.S. Lewis: Life, Works, and Legacy.

You can learn more about O’Flaherty via these links

T.M. ‘Mike’ Brown

Author, Southern Literary Scion

Grantville, Georgia

I met T.M. Brown – known as Mike to his friends – at a book reading in Alpharetta, Georgia three years ago this summer. We were both featured authors at, ‘A Novel Idea,’ a dynamic series of author readings set throughout metro Atlanta helmed by Marsha Cornelius. 

In the years since, I’ve been privileged enough to get to know Mike not only as the author of the celebrated Shiloh series, but also through his relentless work carrying the torch of Southern literature. Mike is the founder of Hometown Novel Nights, a veritable moveable feast of evenings where writers and readers can engage. These events have taken place from barbecue joints to esteemed libraries to wine cellars since it was launched. He also leads various other author and reader events that take place at venues throughout the state.

 If you don’t catch Mike at a book signing, you can also discover him online through one of his many sites. While his work with Hometown Novel Nights has gained him strong recognition, I especially enjoy seeing photos from him reading to the residents at The Monarch House Literati Book Club, a Senior Assisted Living Residence in Newnan. He has carried this tradition on throughout the Pandemic – safely, of course. That type of service is the mark of a true gentleman, in my book.

Mike lives outside of Newnan in Grantville with his wife of more than 45 years, Connie.

His books include:

The first of the Shiloh series, Sanctuary which was published in 2017, followed by Testament: An Unexpected Return in April 2018. Purgatory: A Progeny’s Quest was published in May 2020 and concluded the series.

He’s currently working and researching a new novel you can read about more below.

We had a few minutes to catch up earlier this month. Here’s what’s cracking with Mike.

Q: What music are you listening to right now?

A: 1960s-70s Oldies is my favorite, followed by Backroads Country music when I am writing, et al. Alan Jackson, etc.

Q: What book are you currently reading?

A: Parker’s Choice, Mike Nemeth and Outbound Train, by Renea Winchester.  I am reading Outbound Train at the Monarch House’s Literati Book Club.

My to-be-read pile contains books by John Grisham and Ferrol Sams, and on my desk is a copy of Early Days on the Georgia Tidewater, by Buddy Sullivan.

Q: Who is your favorite author and why? 

A: John Grisham. His novel, A Painted House got me inspired to begin writing years ago. Grisham’s straight forward story-telling writing style also has captivated my reading for years.

Terry Kay is a close second.

Q: Where are you looking forward to vacation to next?

A: Planning another trip to Darien, Ga./Sapelo Island area – a return trip for more research on my next novel. Also, Beaufort, S.C. to revisit The Pat Conroy Literary Center and author friends – the fishing’s pretty good there, too!

Q: You’re a proponent of Southern literature. What makes it so special?

A: Southern heritage, rural roads, front porches, barbecue, pickup trucks, creeks and lazy rivers, fishing, live oaks draped with gray moss, sandy beaches, Gulf breezes, backwood cabins, pace of life and, outside of Atlanta, no traffic jams!

Q: Do you have a favorite poem?

A: I’ve never been a huge reader of poems. Closest would be my love for reading Psalms and other Books of Wisdom in the Bible.

Q: Tea or coffee?

A: COFFEE, especially New Orleans chicory blend.

Q: If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be?

A: My father. I’ve got so many questions about his youth in Depression era Georgia before his father moved the family to Miami just before WWII. [There are stories] that he never shared about his childhood. Doing our family tree has left us with mountains of questions.

Q: Catfish. Do you eat them?

A: Fried with hush puppies, fries, and Cole slaw.

Q:Do you have a favorite motto or quote?

A: Never, never, never quit.

Q: What is your advice to young artists?

A: There are no shortcuts to success. What looks like or sounds like a shortcut is almost always a costly dead end. Focus on the small things and the big things will take care of themselves. Always remember why you began your journey; it’ll get you through the tough, uncertain times along the way.

Q: And the most important question of all. Who has the best barbecue? 

A: I’m still searching and researching that question. Tasted great BBQ from Texas to Georgia to Virginia, and I’ll reserve to say I’ve got a lot of places yet to visit for lunch or dinner. The best barbecue in the meantime is the one I am enjoying next. Of course, Sonny’s is the best restaurant chain for barbecue and always the place to stop when on a road trip in the South.

Do you know of an interesting person for The Maguire Minute? Just shoot me a line at