Off the shelf

Authors Allison M. Dickson & Terry W. Ervin to visit Centerville

Photo: Author Terry W. Ervin’s book Relic Hunted

By Tim Walker

Contrary to what you may have heard, books are far from dead. In a statement once made to WIRED magazine, the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs said, “No one reads anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year.” But, if 40 percent of our population is too busy to put down their iPhones and read a book, then the other 60 percent must be making up for the rest. Earlier this year, Publishers Weekly stated that over 674 million print books were sold in 2016, making it the third straight year that print book sales in the U.S. have gone up. So somebody, somewhere, is still reading books.

The Washington-Centerville Public Library, as part of its mission to inform and excite the public about new books and local writers, hosts the monthly Second Monday Authors Series. The library brings in Dayton-area writers on the second Monday of each month and encourages them to interact with the public, answer questions, and sell copies of their books. As part of that series, on Aug. 14 from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m., writers Allison M. Dickson and Terry W. Ervin II will be appearing in the library’s lobby.

“I write mainly fantasy and science fiction,” says Terry W. Ervin recently when speaking to the Dayton City Paper. “And it’s mostly action-adventure type. As part of my upcoming appearance at the library, I’ll be selling copies of my novels ‘Flank Hawk,’ ‘Relic Tech,’ and my newest book, ‘Thunder Wells.’ I’ll also have copies of ‘Genre Shotgun,’ which is a collection of my previously published short fiction.” A lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy, Ervin continues, “I think that for a lot of writers, they tend to write the novels, the books, and the stories that they’d like to find on the bookshelves, if they hadn’t written them themselves.”

Ervin is a Toledo native, but has lived in St. Paris since 1992, where he also teaches English and serves on the St. Paris Village Council. To date, he has published six novels through publisher Gryphonwood Press, as well as the short story collection. The writer and former Eagle Scout counts fantasy authors Roger Zelazny, Steven Brust, and Stephen R. Donaldson, as well as science fiction writer Harry Turtledove, as major influences on his own work.

When asked about his writing, Ervin says, “My most recent title, ‘Thunder Wells,’ is a post-apocalyptic, alien invasion novel. It starts out up in Toledo, then it works its way down through Ohio, down I-75 and around the Cincinnati area, and then down into Tennessee. Most of the story actually takes place in Ohio. An alien invasion has already happened – the aliens wiped out most of the human race through the use of tsunamis and other kinetic weapons, and the novel picks up with a college sophomore who is living in a Toledo metro park and just trying to survive.”

Allison M. Dickson, also appearing at the library on Aug. 14, likes her books on the darker side of the spectrum. “I write,” the Oxford native says. “But basically I have a divided life. On the one hand I have a more commercialized fiction side, which focuses on horror/suspense/thriller stories, more like the darker side of suspense thrillers, usually contemporary, modern-day. And then, when I’m not working on those things for either my agent or my publisher, I’m usually dabbling in science fiction, maybe even some black mirror/Twilight Zone-type stuff. I like to let my freak flag fly a bit,” Dickson continues, laughing. “Any opportunity I have to explore the dark relationship-related stories behind the curtain, that’s what gets me interested.”

Dickson, whose published books include “Strings,” “The Last Supper,” “Colt Coltrane and the Lotus Killer,” and “Colt Coltrane and the Stolen Sky,” names Stephen King and Gillian Flynn among her influences. “Of course, the big one that I cut my teeth on is Stephen King,” she says. “I started reading him when I was 11 years old, and ‘Misery’ was the one I fell in love with. Then I read ‘Pet Sematary,’ and I pretty much have been with him ever since. I love Gillian Flynn’s work, too. I actually ended up inquiring with her agent and signing with her. It’s been quite a fun ride.”

At her library appearance, Dickson will be signing and selling copies of several of her books, including her 2013 psychological horror story “Strings.” “That’s been my biggest and most popular book so far,” she says. “I’ll also have both books from my Colt Coltrane series. They’re gritty, old school noir stories, but with a robot sidekick.”

The Second Monday Authors Series is a great opportunity to meet local authors, find out more about their work, and discover new books to enjoy. And, the late Steve Jobs comments notwithstanding, it’s a sure-fire bet that book lovers from all over the Miami Valley will be there to support the library, Allison M. Dickson, and Terry W. Ervin II.

Authors Allison M. Dickson and Terry W. Ervin II will appear at the Washington-Centerville Public Library on Monday, Aug. 14 from 1-3 p.m. as part of the library’s Second Monday Authors Series. The library is located at 111 W. Spring Valley Road in Centerville. For more information, call the library at 937.433.8091.

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Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black T-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at

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