“It was only after becoming a senior citizen that I realized I should have spent my life writing, and I now look forward to a writing career rather than retirement.”
–Jackie Ellis Stewart
A member of the Writers’ League of Texas since April, Jackie Ellis Stewart was born in Bastrop, TX, but now lives in Germantown, TN.
Jackie Ellis Stewart: My first book, Raiders and Horse Thieve: Memoir of a Central Texas Baby Boomer, was published last November by Texas A & M Consolidated Press.
Scribe: What authors would you like to have coffee or a beer with and which beverage?
JES: I would invite Will James, Cormac McCarthy, and Larry McMurtry to my fantasy coffee klatch. We’d meet in the early spring of 1959, at my Great Uncle T. C. Watts’ domino parlor, a large portable building set on a corner of the main intersection of downtown Cedar Creek, Texas, where all the leading male citizens meet every week day afternoon at two to play dominos and conduct business.
It would be a tale swapping extravaganza. When he was eleven, T. C.’s father, Perry Watts, Sr., started working as a teamster driving cattle from Bastrop County to San Antonio. He died in 1944 but is still spoken of among the family as though they expect him to walk in the back door any moment. He is the basis for countless tales. Great-Great Uncle Lee Alexander, Perry Watts’ brother-in-law, is a fixture at the parlor and herded cattle out west for a number of years. If Andy and Mac Alexander (cousins to the Watts men) happened to stop by, they would talk about the drives they made from Bastrop County to the train in Austin to take their herd to St. Louis. They forded the Colorado River about where the Montopolis Bridge stands today and rode all the way to St. Louis in the cattle car. Once the herd was sold, they had their first barbershop haircut.
If T.C.’s brother, Chester, joins the group, the coffee may be served with a dollop of something a bit stronger. Chester, the token alcoholic of the family, is also a chain smoker who drives a gasoline tanker truck for Jack Ritter. I’m the only one in the family who sees any potential for a problem with this.
Scribe: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?
JES: Since I get seasick wading, there’s no chance in hell I’d ever have the opportunity to get stuck on a deserted island, but if by some fluke I did, a sizeable water-proof case would float ashore after me containing a full set of Compton’s Encyclopedia published sometime in the 1930’s or ‘40’s. I grew up with just such a set. It had stories and discussed every possible subject along with instructions on how to do most anything. It would keep me entertained and help me to either get off the island or make myself more comfortable there.
Scribe: What have you learned from your association with the Writers’ League?
JES: I learned about the June Agents & Editors Conference through the Writers’ League newsletter and was excited to have the opportunity to learn more about my craft.
Scribe: Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future?
JES: It was only after becoming a senior citizen that I realized I should have spent my life writing, and I now look forward to a writing career rather than retirement. My current novel has the potential to be the first of a trilogy.
Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?
JES: In a Narrow Grave: Essays on Texas by Larry McMurtry is a great read for any Texan in search of explanations for the Texas attitude and values. Soon as I read the first chapter, I put out an all-points bulletin to two high school friends back in Texas who swap book titles with me. I can hardly wait to hear their reactions.
Scribe: Is there anything else about you that you would like to share with the world? An opportunity for blatant self-promotion!
JES: I’m currently re-writing my first novel. Please visit my website at jackieellisstewart.com to learn more about my book and see some snapshots from my everyday life. There might even be one of George, our better than standard poodle.
If you’re a Writers’ League member and you’d be interested in being interviewed for our Meet the Members feature, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. It’s a great way for other members to get to know you and for you to share a bit about what you’re working on!