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  • Elaine Berberich

Fairfield Harbour Writers

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

If a story is in you, it has to come out. – William Faulkner

Fairfield Harbour has a wealth of talent, including musicians, artists and athletes, and many talented writers. One of our local authors, Carol Hampson said, “Everyone’s life is an untold story, no matter how short or long it is.”

Everyone has a story, but it takes an extraordinary entrepreneur to write and publish a book or a collection of writings. Several talented writers from Fairfield Harbour shared their writing and publishing techniques in a recent interview. Three authors had been involved in a recent event at the local Farmer’s Market called “Local Author’s Sunday,” where over forty local authors participated.

Carol Hampsen with her books and cat Derby

Carol Hampson’s first novel “Stella’s Very Special Summer” combines storytelling with historical fiction and is based on her childhood summers in Pennsylvania. She pointed out that when writing stories based on history, you must do extensive research into the history of that time and be historically accurate while writing an engaging and creative story.

Why would anyone want to become an author? It takes time, research, and the return of your investment money is not guaranteed. Our authors would agree, “Everyone wants to hit it big, but with the number of self-published books on the market today, your money might be better spent on some lottery tickets!”

It goes without saying that if you want to be a successful writer, you need something to write about, and our local writers come from various backgrounds and careers that can provide the essentials of a good story.

Bill Furney and his wife Jeanettedisplaying books at the Book Fair

Bill Furney began his professional career as a journalist and then worked in public relations and information. He published his first novel about 30 years ago.

Carol Hampson was a career biologist and published many articles on the ultrastructure of plants and animals.

Sarah Maury Swan spent time in the Peace Corps and spent her career in DC, always with a job requiring some writing.

Les Pendleton worked various jobs until he began a career in motion pictures. He spent over 25 years in the production end of more than 40 feature films, including Last of the Mohicans and Billy Bathgate.

Where do these writers get their inspiration?

Bill Furney feels like he has always been blessed with a fertile imagination everywhere and in

everything. Where other people see a random event, he sees a story. His last novel was inspired by a 36-foot sailboat that landed on his back steps during Hurricane Florence. The book details the events that might have happened. Another of his books, Ivy Moon Last Girl on Earth, is an apocalyptic tale set in Fairfield Harbour, New Bern, Cherry Point, and Beaufort. His wife, Jeanette designed the cover, which features their dog, Findlay.

Sarah Maury Swan has been telling stories for most of her 82 years and reports that she gets her inspiration from many sources, including a childhood memory of putting a horse down, misconceptions during 9-11, and a novel based on family history about her mother being Rosie the Riveter during WWII.

Carol Hampson’s inspiration in writing “Stella’s Very Special Summer” was the desire to share experiences of her generation in the 50s with the current generation and help young tweens realize what life was like before electronic gadgetry like cell phones, iPads, and Virtual Reality Goggles. It’s also a nostalgic trip down memory lane for those who remember the 50s.

Writing takes time and commitment, and when he’s not out sailing, Les Pendleton says he writes about four months out of the year, which entails about four to six hours daily in front of the computer and then editing three hours for every hour spent writing. He has written around 15 novels that span a vast genre in addition to his other publications. He does not try to write on the same subject, but only what he is personally interested in at the time. This often includes his passion, sailing. Les’s goal is to turn out at least one novel a year.

All the authors were willing to share advice about publishing a book.

Sarah Maury Swann displaying her books at the Book Fair

Sarah Maury Swan advised taking courses from a local community college. In addition, Carteret Writers and Pamlico Writers offer conferences and workshops. She also advised joining a “critique group” to practice hardening your heart to negative comments, which is the only way you will grow as an author. All novice writers have to get through a first draft, which you will throw out, but you will have a kernel of your story left.

Les Pendleton described the two main ways to be published—traditionally and independently. The traditional method takes much longer, and you may need an agent and might need to agree to compromise on your storyline, so factor that into your planning.

The Indie (Independent/ Vanity Publisher) method requires you to pay part or all of your expenses upfront, which may include editing, formatting, and artwork or illustrations. The advantage of this method is that the book then belongs to the author rather than sharing the book sales profits.

All four authors were anxious to share their experiences and knowledge about writing and publishing, and anyone interested in becoming an author could benefit by contacting them.

There will be a third Authors’ Sunday on October 29, 2023, in the afternoon at the New Bern Farmer’s Market, 421 S. Front Street, where Fairfield Harbor and other New Bern authors share their experiences and books.

Les Pendleton out sailing of a sail

Sarah Maury Swan

Les Pendleton

Bill Furney

Prospective authors can also get advice by going to the following web site: and the state group

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