Mentors Matter

When I returned to my college education after a five-year layoff (four years in the USAF and another year hitching around Europe and living on a kibbutz in Israel), waiting for me in the Iowa English Department was Dr. David Morrell. He was the best professor I ever had. He became a best-selling author with, First Blood, in which he introduced to the world Rambo.

Forty-seven years passed. Many, many best-sellers for David Morrell. I borrowed from his teaching in my own career as an English professor. I taught his novel. Then, when I learned he would be at this year's Killer Nashville Writers Conference, I knew I had to go, knowing he wouldn't remember me.

At the conference, he was friendly and open to me and my wife and daughter. He asked to sit with us at breakfast and regaled us with stories from his career. On awards night, he went out of his way to present to me The Claymore Award, for best first 50 pages of an unpublished novel.

David Morrell has had tragedy in his life, but he continues to be generous to fledgling authors like myself when he doesn't need to. I just wanted you to know that a famous writer can, indeed, be humble and giving and kind. My hat is off to Dr. David Morrell, the best of the best.