Name: Mark A. Stevens
Residence: Pawleys Island/Fripp Island
Book: "The Clinchfield No. 1: Tennessee's Legendary Steam Engine"
Printed by: The History Press of Charleston
Where to buy: historypress.net, Amazon and any major book retailer. Signed copies may be purchased directly from the author by mailing a check or money order for $19.99 (plus $4 for postage) to Mark A. Stevens, 390 Lumbee Circle, Pawleys Island, SC 29585
First sentence: "Whistling its way merrily through the mountains along the tracks of the 277-mile Clinchfield Railroad Company, the famed Number One, a 4-6-0-type steam locomotive, built in 1882, warms the hearts of all who see and ride behind it."
Plot summary in 50 words or less: The Clinchfield No. 1, already 86 years old, was rebuilt in 1968 to lead excursion trains throughout the South and became a national symbol of railroad excellence and nostalgia. The book isn't just about a steam engine, though. It's about men who loved a steam engine so much they called her "Rosebud."
Story behind the book: I've been interested in the story of the No. 1 since I was publisher of The Erwin Record. Erwin was the town where the Clinchfield Railroad was based, and so the history and heritage of old railroad days was all around. The No. 1 retired in 1979 to the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, but from time to time, an effort will begin in Erwin to "bring home the No. 1." When I was publisher, I did a feature story about one of those efforts, and I got to know A.J. "Alf" Peoples, and he eventually became my co-author on a book we did in 2013 called "The One & Only: A Pictorial History of the Clinchfield No. 1." When we finished that book, we realized there was more we wanted to say. "The Clinchfield No. 1: Tennessee's Legendary Steam Engine" is a definitive history of the No. 1.
Previous writing experience: For the past 25 years, I've been an editor and publisher at newspapers in Louisiana and Tennessee. I have also been the editor for three books: "Charging the Dome," a book about the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's football team; O. Ray Knapp's "Legends, Lies & Other Tales"; and a cookbook titled, "An Apple A Day: 365 Apple-Tizing Recipes."
Favorite books: W. Bruce Cameron's "A Dog's Journey" and "A Dog's Purpose," Michael Crichton's "Jurassic Park," Jimmy Carter's "A Remarkable Mother" and "Sharing Good Times," and John Grisham's "The Last Juror" and "Skipping Christmas."
What's next? I may try my hand at children's books. I'd like to do a children's book about the Clinchfield No. 1, and I'd like to do a children's book based on a song I wrote for my dog, Sadie, many years ago, because we all need books based on songs for dogs, right?
Follow reporter Erin Shaw at twitter.com/IPGB_ErinShaw.