Truckers News

May 2011

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EXIT ONLY Unintended Consequences Owner-operator pens literary novel about Rangers in turmoil in Civil War Texas Antonio, Texas, calls the evocative writing in his Collinstown novel an “unintended consequence of being a truck driver.” At least in part, anyway. G Out now from Tre- ble Heart Books under the pen name Robert Neal, the novel follows the intertwining lives of a current and former Texas Ranger just at the outbreak of the Civil War. Bob Cory, the elder former Ranger, is on his way back to Texas to restart his life serenely after a vio- lent past when he has a chance encounter with an old friend and colleague in cur- rent Ranger Tom Daniels, a man on the verge of a future of divided loy- alty to state and country. It’s a captivating read, with lit- erary debts owed to Larry McMur- try (Lonesome Dove) and Cormac McCarthy (All the Pretty Horses, No Country for Old Men) and historical nods given to the work of Texas his- torian T.R. Fehrenbach. Grantham traces the book’s roots straight back the pages of Truckers News. Working as a company driver for J.B. Hunt in the early 1990s (he first became an owner-operator, leasing to Clarks- ville Refrigerated Lines out of Dal- las, in 2002), Grantham placed as honorable mention in the maga- zine’s Mark Twain writing contest, his story being published alongside the winners. He’d had prior experience writ- ing and publishing a monthly 90 TRUCKERS NEWS MAY 2011 reatwide-leased owner-operator Bob Grantham, based in San magazine in the Army as an analyst for the Army intelligence unit of which he was part for eight-and-a- half years. He took creative writing in college afterward and “had an article published in that time,” he says, later writing extensive techni- cal reports for Fisher- Webb Oil through the late 1980s before he began trucking. But “after Truckers News published that article, I really got fired up about writing and I’ve been at it ever since,” he says. Trucking has facil- itated his output. “I was never one of those people who was in love with trucking,” he says. “I did it [and do it] for the money.” After working in the Texas oil fields before prospects in the business went dim in the 1980s, Grantham “looked for a job for two years” before taking to the high- way. But the deeper he got into the POSTED Happiness There’s no other way to describe this picture of Virginia Kirk, general manager of the TravelCenters of America C-store and fuel islands in Nashville, Tenn., taken during the location’s grand reopening in March. It’s “awesome” to be back up and running, she told me, after the store endured floodwaters of several feet in May 2010 and was closed for nine months. For more reporting from the grand opening, including a photo TODD DILLS Truckers News Senior Editor Todd Dills is the author of a novel, Sons of the Rapture, and blogs daily at www. channel19. Write him at or channel19todd. long-haul life, the more able he was to put time on the road alone to fair use, making it “time to work on my book,” he says. “You’re out here and you’re just drifting, and you have a lot of free time to go over and over things in your mind. And it really helps that you have that time alone. You can’t write a book with peo- ple standing over your shoulder. It’s almost impossible to do, if you’re at home. Trucking has been a great way to really get that time alone.” What’s next for the owner-oper- ator/author? He’s got two other lit- erary novels in the can, and one is being edited for publication at pres- ent. “Anytime I have free time, I’m on my laptop working on it,” he says. “I love it. It’s a great time. It’s really something to see something you’ve totally created come into print.” Find links to Collinstown’s Amazon order pages ($13.50 in print, $7 in Kin- dle edition) at (The origin of Grantham’s pen name is pretty simple, FYI. Neal is his middle name.) gallery of the newly redesigned Music-City-themed stop and its flooding as well as video, see the Truckers News online video queue and the Feb. 15 and March 8 entries on the Channel 19 blog: www.overdriveonline. com/channel19.

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