Everyone who reads Ferrol Sam’s books knows what an excellent writer he is. I read the first book he published "Run With the Horseman" many years ago and I still remember it. He is one of the best southern writers and my favorite. He studied at Mercer and was a doctor until retiring five years ago. As a writer and a Georgia boy, Ferrol Sams is down to earth and one of the people. There will never be another Ferrol Sams.
As a writer,Ferrol Sams drew deeply on his memories of growing up on a cotton farm in Fayette county, Georgia. He says that when his first book was published a lady wrote to tell him she was glad there was finally something between “Tobacco Road” and “Gone With the Wind” to come out of the south. Sams says, he knew there was a place for these stories because nobody else was writing them. He goes on to say, he’s just writing about what he knows.
Sam’s first book was “Run With the Horsemen” It was published in 1982. (I bought it when it came out and I still have it in a bookcase.) Sam’s writes with the knowledge of small town, and southern country people. He knows the language, humor and sense of place because he’s part of it. Sams was inducted into the Georgia’s Hall of Fame and received the 1991 Townsend Prize for fiction in 2007. Last week the Georgia’s Writers Association added a lifetime achievement award to Ferrol Sams honor roll.
Margaret Walters, the association’s executive director and professor of English at Kennesaw State University had this to say. ” Ferrol Sams clearly and accurately and believably captures the voices of his characters. His stories capture the times and places over the past six decades.” Sams says that he was under the tutelage of a Mercer professor who demanded that students write about what they knew. What Sams knew was about growing up on a hard scrabble cotton farm during the great depression.
Sam’s professor told him he had the talent to earn a living as a writer but Sams went to medical school at Emory University. World War 11 came along and he served as a medic. After the war he finished medical school, married and began his medical practice in Fayetteville. He retired five years ago.
It wasn’t until 1970 that Sams wrote his first novel. He started getting up before daybreak, sometimes at 2 or 3 oclock to write. Through friends, Sams was introduced to a publisher in Atlanta who printed his first novel. Sam’s doesn’t have an agent and has never put a manuscript in the mail. I hope you will look for some of his work, it’s full of laughter and tears, and is southern life at it’s best.