Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 17, 2014

Local author to hold book signing

By ANDY HALLMAN | Apr 04, 2013
Ron Louthan

A local man has made his foray into the world of publishing.

Ron Louthan of Fairfield published his first book last month titled “The Unlikely Confederacy of Hoggy, Froggy and Ernie.” The book is aimed at children although Louthan said his target age was anywhere from 5 to 85 years old.

The three names in the title refer to the three main characters in the book, who are a pig, a frog and a woodpecker. The story is set in southern California, which is coincidentally where the author grew up.

Louthan will conduct a book signing at 2 p.m. Saturday inside Revelations Café & Book Store.

The storyline of the book is that the three characters hop on a three wheeled motorcycle and head from Swami Beach to the redwood forests of Big Sur in west central California. Along the way, they get in all manner of trouble. They get caught in a magnitude 8 earthquake, are then followed by a bounty hunter and get caught in the middle of a 9,000-year blood feud with a group of shape-shifters.

Louthan set the story in his native California, where his roots go back four generations. He said he has a deep affinity for the Golden State.

“California is really cool,” he said. “I spent most of my time in California at the beaches in Los Angeles. I can’t imagine going back to live there, however. I’m seriously thinking about moving to Australia because I have friends there and it seems like a nice place to spend your time hanging out at the beach.”

Louthan said it’s difficult to say how long he spent writing the book. In one sense, it took two months, because that’s how long he spent writing the manuscript. In another sense, Louthan has been composing the book in his mind for the past 10 years.

The idea for his book began in 2003 when Louthan was staying at Big Sur Inn in California. The Big Sur Inn, just like many real-life landmarks in California, appears in the book as well. Louthan saw a journal in his room which was left there for guests to write whatever they liked.

“I started writing a page about a frog and a pig who were hitchhiking to Big Sur and got picked up by a woodpecker on a motorcycle,” he said.

Louthan said he did not know where the idea of three traveling animals came from. At the time he wrote that journal entry, Louthan was not thinking of turning the idea into a full-fledged novel.

However, the hog, frog and woodpecker refused to leave Louthan’s imagination. He began to wonder if the rough sketch he outlined in the journal could be made into a story for children.

“I thought hitchhiking on a motorcycle is not a good idea for children,” he said. “What if they weren’t hitchhiking? What if they were all going together and they took off on a three-wheeled motorcycle?”

Louthan realized that he had to find a reason for the three animals to get together, so he created a backstory for each one.

“What is a woodpecker doing riding a motorcycle?” he asked rhetorically. “He can’t fly. Why can’t he fly? He has to have a backstory. Why did this pig run away from home? Why are the pig and the frog friends?”

Two years ago, he began writing notes on how he could flesh out the characters and the plot.

“I thought it would be a good 15-20 page picture book with a basic story about these three animals traveling up the California coast,” he said.

As Louthan read other books, he found words he wanted to incorporate into his own book, so he jotted them down. He would think of short exchanges between the characters and write those down, too. Within a year, he had 200 pages of notes.

“When I sat down to write it, it only took about 6-8 weeks because I had the whole story in my head,” he said.

Louthan gave the first draft to a film producer to critique. The producer advised Louthan that the story needed more action.

“What he meant by that was that the story needed violence,” Louthan said. “He wanted to make it more like an action movie. I told him it was not about violence and action. He said, ‘Okay, what it needs is an edge and a mystery to it.’”

Louthan took the producer’s advice to heart and introduced the evil shape-shifters and a bounty hunter who was pursuing the three main characters.

“It turned out to be a much better story,” he said.

The book is the first piece of writing Louthan has ever published. He attended the University of Oregon and UCLA, and during his college years he wrote a little bit of poetry.

“I was an English major, and I concentrated mostly on reading,” he said. “In my classes, I didn’t do any creative writing at all.”

Louthan said he has already amassed 30-40 pages of notes for a sequel, and he has an idea for the plot of the third book in the series. In fact, he has names picked out for the next two books. The second will be called “The Flibbertigibbety Doppelganger” and the third will be called “JuJu and Gris Gris.”

 

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