Local author has books published after years of effort
Sargento Cheese president writes 2-volume fiction novel on America's second civil war
Martha H. Shad
PLYMOUTH - Bob Clouston has written poetry, screenplays and fiction novels, but never published any of them - until now.
The two-part novel, "Where Freedom Reigns," began life as a screenplay in 1998, said Clouston, 58, president of Plymouth cheesemaker Sargento Foods Inc.
"I sent the screenplay to a business associate in Hollywood, and he sent them to several producers and studios," said Clouston, a Plymouth resident. "Two people called me and said they liked the message but that it was a big story and would be very difficult to turn it into a movie without a successful novel."
So he returned to his computer; this time to write a book on a topic that has interested him for years.
"The premise of the book is good vs. evil," Clouston said. "My view is that everyone has good and evil inside. How we live our lives depends on which one is dominant."
He said he was trying to figure out how best to convey that when the shooting at Columbine High School happened in 1999.
That year, two gun-wielding high school students murdered 12 fellow students and a teacher before turning the weapons on themselves.
"That brought gun control to the forefront in the country and I knew that was how I would show it," Clouston said.
That story, which begins and ends in a fictitious Idaho mountain range, spans 100 years and America's "second civil war" over the right of individuals to own guns, he said.
In the book, the nation's president tries to get Congress to overturn the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution, which protects the right to keep and bear arms. His effort is strenuously opposed by the governer of Idaho. Members of a militia seize a gun club in Idaho, and in a battle with Army soldiers, many on both sides are killed, Clouston said.
The battle eventually causes seven Western states to secede and form their own nation, the Continental States of America, and a civil war ensues, Clouston said.
While the screenplay took him about six weeks to write, the novel took much longer, Clouston said.
"For me, writing dialog, which is really all a screenplay is, is much easier because you don't have to fill in any details," Clouston said. "It took me three years to finish writing the book. The characters became so real to me that I couldn't not write."