The Essence of My Writing
Posted Feb 15, 2012 00:00
When I was four, my family moved to DeGraff, Ohio, a town of 900 citizens and a fraternal twin to Lake Wobegone. Life was good for a boy growing up in DeGraff, and my memories of the positive influence the citizens of DeGraff had on me are even better.
(Portrait by Jolie Leeds)
Author Rick D. Niece
A young trick-or-treater brings
the Side-Yard Superhero to life.
As a reader, I enjoy America's classic writers: Faulkner, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, Salinger, Twain. The poetry and other writings of William Carlos Williams have also shaped my writing and insights. But I have been influenced the most, interestingly enough, by James Herriot and his books about the small, rural town of Darrowby. My style and thematic structures are similar to his. The central theme of a veterinary's practice in rural England runs throughout Herriot's series of books, but within each book most of the chapters are autonomous and able to stand on their own. In Side-Yard Superhero, Bernie Jones is the book's story arc, but most chapters are self-contained and can stand alone. They are short stories written within the framework of a multi-layered book. That technique is the style as well for my second book in the 'Fanfare for a Hometown' series, The Band Plays On, which will be released this summer.
Professionally, I have been an educator all of my working life. At age twenty, I began as a high school English teacher, eventually became an assistant principal, and was later promoted to central office administration as a curriculum director. A few years later, I changed directions within education and entered higher education. Since then I have been a professor, Academic Dean, Vice President, Provost, then University President. I am currently the President of the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas. I have written extensively along the way, with more than twenty articles published in professional academic journals, a variety of poems published in literary magazines, and numerous features in university publications. I received a Bachelor's degree from Ohio State University and my Master's and Ph.D. from Kent State University. As President of the University of the Ozarks, I live on campus with my wife, Sherée, in the President's Home. We are the proud parents of 630 students. During our fifteen years as President and First Lady, Sherée and I have hosted over 40,000 guests at the President's Home for dinners, picnics, and receptions. We love what we do!