Hollywood producer and author of 31 books, Les Roberts will speak at 12:30 p.m. Friday, October 26, at Mount Gilead High School as part of the Mount Gilead Autumn Writers Retreat. Roberts is currently a detective fiction writer based in the Cleveland area.
After working as an actor in Chicago and doing summer stock theater in New Mexico, he moved to New York and began writing for Candid Camera and The Jackie Gleason Show. Roberts later became a producer and writer in Hollywood including stints with The Lucy Show and The Andy Griffith Show. He was the first producer of the long-running Hollywood Squares game show.
In recent years, Roberts has focused on a book series featuring the fictional detective Milan Jacovich. The author has earned several writing awards, from the Cleveland Arts Prize for Literature in 1992 to the Sherwood Anderson Literary Award in 2003. Roberts will talk about his method of capturing ideas for writing through observation using “The Writer’s Eye” as well as sharing his wealth of knowledge and experience as an actor, writer, and producer.
The other keynote speaker is Amish farmer and author David Kline, who wrote four books about nature and agriculture including “Letters from Larksong: An Amish Naturalist Explores his Organic Farm” and “Scratching the Woodchuck: Nature on an Amish Farm.” He serves as an advocate for the family farm, ecological production methods, and rural community.
As an organic farmer in Holmes County, Ohio, Kline writes about the importance of farming, good stewardship of the soil, and his many experiences of interacting with nature on the farm. When not plowing or tending his herd of Jersey cows, David finds time to write from his rustic log cabin near the family kitchen garden. The cabin doubles as an occasional inn, accommodating such visitors as fellow author Wendell Berry from Kentucky.
Two additional authors are featured during the afternoon program: writing coach and author Steve FitzGerald along with mystery dinner theater writer Forrest Smith. FitzGerald operates a writers retreat on an island in Lake Erie and also runs the Island Writers Club. He has served as a writing coach for budding authors of all ages.
With more than 40 years of teaching anthropology and biology at University of Akron—Wayne College, Forrest Smith has written “The Plant Professor” that takes a humorous look at the many challenges of home gardening. He has also dabbled in writing scripts for mystery dinner shows, taking the bold step of starting with a canned writing template from a chain bookstore.
The Writers Retreat is hosted by the Mount Gilead Area Writers Guild, an organization dedicated to promoting literary arts in the region. On Saturday, October 27, the retreat continues at the Rose Heart Inn on East High Street in Mount Gilead. Starting at 11 a.m. writing coach Steve FitzGerald will lead several workshops and seminars dedicated to improving the skill set of participants. All of the events are free and open to the public.