Spartanburg Herald Journal featured an article written by Kirk Neely. Click on the newspaper clipping to read the digital article on GoUpstate.com or read the excerpt below.
Faris weaves tales of the South
By KIRK NEELYfor the Herald-Journal October 20, 2013
Late one afternoon last week, I talked by cell phone to my friend John Faris. John was out in the country sitting on the front porch of a log cabin he had restored several years ago. We talked about his new book, “Ten Was the Deal: Southern Hunting and Fishing Stories.” John, who appreciates a good tale as much as I do, is truly a Southern storyteller.
One night six years ago John and I sat in a boat on a farm pond in Laurens County way past dark. Under a full moon in May we caught bream on fly rods and swapped stories.
Storytelling is a treasured part of John’s heritage and mine.
A storyteller takes delight when others want to listen. An audience of a few or a large group that enjoy a tale is all the encouragement needed. When one storyteller encounters another, their joy is multiplied. That has been my experience with my good friend John.
John is an outdoorsman as well as a Southern storyteller. He was reared in Laurens, in the 1950s and ’60s. He cherishes family and friends and enjoys adventures as a sportsman. Now John has written a book. “Ten Was the Deal: Southern Hunting and Fishing Stories” is a collection of 10 of his stories. More than a book of adventures about hunting and fishing, this volume is about coming of age in the South. It has all of the enchantment of yarns spun while sitting on the tailgate of a pickup truck; all of the lore of tales told around a campfire.
Set in woodlands, along Piedmont streams, in Lowcountry fields, or along the coast of the Carolinas, these stories reveal a boy’s journey to manhood: turkey hunting with a grandfather, duck hunting with a dad, and his first kiss with a fishing buddy.
Some of John’s best stories emerge while angling for bass in a Midlands farm pond or perched in a duck blind in Pamlico Sound. John writes about shooting wood ducks and a U.S. Army helicopter on the same day. He tells us how battleships moving down the Atlantic coast and fishing for spot tail bass make for the best day ever.
In these pages we learn the secret recipe for the best dang lard in Laurens County. We discover how duck hunting can lead to a good grade in a high school French class. We hear the story behind the sage advice that big possums walk late.
“Ten Was the Deal” should be a fixture in every hunting and fishing lodge across America. It should be by the bedside of every sportsman. Packed with Southern charm and down-home humor, this book is one you will return to again and again.
I have read John’s book from cover to cover. These stories will often make you laugh out loud. Some of these stories will bring a tear to your eye. I intend to give several copies as Christmas presents. Sportsman or not, if you enjoy a good story, you will love “Ten Was the Deal: Southern Hunting and Fishing Stories.” I highly recommend it to you.
Eastside Living Magazine featured an article written by John P. Faris, Jr. in their May 2017 issue. Click on the magazine clipping or read the excerpt below.
Written by resident John P. Faris, Jr.
Once my two children were grown with families of their own, choosing Christmas presents for them became very difficult. In 2006, I decided I’d write each an original outdoor story instead of buying something, even though I’d never written anything before. My children were surprised and seemed to genuinely appreciate what I’d written.
Years later, I wrote a story for my dad about our last hunting trip together while he lay critically ill in a hospital bed following a stroke. He could not open his eyes or speak. I waited for a time when we were completely alone and read the story to him. He never moved. I wasn’t even sure he heard me. But as I arose to go, I took his hand. Big tears ran down his cheeks. He had heard every word. Dad died the next day.
It was then I was sure I would continue writing.
In the March 2017 issue of Sporting Classics Magazine, I was surprised to see that Senior Editor and Book Columnist Jim Casada reviewed my recent book. Jim wrote: “We’ll Do It Tomorrow is as southern as a slice of pecan pie. If you read the book’s title story and don’t find yourself dabbing at your eyes or with a catch in your throat, some serious self-examination is in order. The piece is that moving and meaningful. This is the talented author’s second book-length venture into storytelling, with his previous effort, Ten Was The Deal, having carved a comfortable niche in the ranks of contemporary Southern tellers of sporting tales.”
My friend, Kirk Neely, says: “More than just hunting and fishing stories, John’s books are about the joys and sorrows of life. Sportsman or not … you will enjoy We’ll Do It Tomorrow.”
I am very pleased that Spartanburg’s own Nancy Kochenower did the beautiful painting for the book’s cover and each chapter’s hand drawn illustrations.
Need a special Father’s Day gift? You can order a copy at OutdoorStories.com or pick one up at Hub City Books. I donate all proceeds from the sale of my books to The Encouraging Word.
Laurens County Advisor featured an article on book signing by John P. Faris, Jr. at the Laurens County Museum. View the newspaper clipping or read the excerpt below.
Jimmy Todd, left, brought his son Jim to meet his former neighbor, John Faris, Jr., at a book-signing held for Faris Friday in Laurens. The signing and reception was hosted by the Laurens County Museum, and large numbers of Faris’ friends came out to see the Laurens native who has written a book, “Ten Was the Deal,” which is described by the publisher as a collection of stories of life growing up hunting and fishing throughout Laurens County. Faris tweaks that description somewhat. “They’re really more coming-of-age stories, most of which occurred on hunting and fishing trips across Laurens County.” The Laurens County Museum on Laurens Street has many more copies of the book available.
You have just finished your first book, Ten Was the Deal. What inspired you to undertake this project?
In the opening pages of the book Ten Was The Deal I tried to record the events that lead me to ultimately take on this endeavor. As I mentioned, I have a very close friend, a pastor, who writes a story every Christmas and reads it on Christmas Sunday to his congregation. On many occasions my wife and I received a copy of these special stories as a present. I was so inspired, I wrote my grown children, Ashley and John, each an original story for their Christmas present in 2006.
I had a good time writing these two outdoor stories. The children were surprised and they seemed to sincerely like what I had written, so I was pleased.
I did not write another story until a year later for my dad’s ninety-first birthday. It took a lot of time, but it seemed to bring joy to my dad. I felt a very real sense of satisfaction. This was the first time the idea of actually writing enough stories to make a book entered my mind.
In May of 2011 my dad, then ninety-five, became critically ill following a stroke. The days before he died he was very weak. He could not open his eyes or speak.
At that time I wrote about the last hunting trip we had taken together. I picked a time when he was alone; no other family members, no nurses. I carried those tearstained pages to his bedside, and I managed with breaking voice and blurred eyes, to read the story to him. My dad never moved. I wasn’t even sure he had heard me. As I rose to go, I took his hand. His grip was surprisingly strong. Big tears ran down his cheeks. I was sure he had heard every word. We had said our final goodbye.
Dad died the next day.
It was then I knew I would write this book which contains so many of the memories of hunting and fishing trips we went on together.
The book is a collection of hunting and fishing short stories, some humorous and some heartfelt. Which one is your favorite and why?
There is no single story that is my favorite. I am anxious to see if people who read the book have a story they like best. The stories cover from when I was four years old and span sixty years. Each story is a tiny slice of my life told with hunting or fishing experiences as their framework. As you read these stories, you will know I have had a wonderful life filled with many outdoor adventures, so often made more enjoyable because they were spent with my dad. Many of these experiences are burned not only into my memory, but also into my heart.
How long have you been writing these short stories?
Three of the stories for this volume I wrote six years ago, however the majority of the book was written over the last eighteen months.
Are your stories factual or fictional?
More than one person that has read the manuscript has asked this question.
Things were so different fifty or sixty years ago for children in general and I think young boys in particular. We had more freedom it seems. The outdoors was wide open and there for everyone to explore. To me as I look back, that freedom just led to more adventurous times and adventures by their very nature make for a good story. But I would add, as Joseph Greenfield put it, “Everything I’ve described contains at least a grain of truth, though I confess that nothing has lost any fat in the telling.”
What are some of your favorite books?
As you might imagine, books about hunting and fishing are high on my list. Certainly among the best I’ve read are Russell Annabel’s adventure series. These include: Alaskan Adventure, Adventure is My Business, Adventure is in My Blood, The High Road to Adventures and The Way We Were.
In the front of Russell Annabel’s book cover jacket it is written that Ernest Hemingway said Rusty Annabel was, “The finest outdoor writer that he had ever read.” After reading and re-reading Annabel’s fine adventure series, I could not agree more. They are simply the best. If you like outdoor stories filled with adventure you will return to these books time and again.
Are there other writers that have influenced you?
Robert Ruark sticks out foremost in my mind. I did not learn of Robert Ruark’s books until 1972. On November 21 of that year I bought a copy of his 1953 classic, The Old Man and The Boy. In this remarkable book Ruark tells of, as a young boy, hunting and fishing in North Carolina with an amazing grandfather.
I fell in love with this book and then later stories in The Old Man’s Boy Grows Older. I believe I liked Ruark’s stories so much because by the time I discovered them I had experienced so many of the same type adventures in the woods and fields of my own beloved Carolinas.
Today my publisher and I finally signed off on the manuscript of my new book Ten Was The Deal. My first printed copy should arrive from the printer on September 1st. I could not have published this book without the help of Kirk Neely who has shepherded me through the long and complicated process. I also owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Clare Neely who is my editor and chief encourager.
John P. Faris, Jr. is a native of South Carolina. His passion since childhood has been hunting and fishing. He enjoys farming, boat building, woodworking, photography and writing. John’s first three books, a collection of hunting and fishing stories, is on bookshelves now and available to purchase online.