Dr. Newsome was raised in North Carolina farm country. During his childhood, he learned a strong work ethic and a love of nature.
He received a BA in American history from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1971. He received his medical degree from the Bowman Gray School of Medicine (now Wake Forest University School of Medicine) in 1975. He completed his residency and certification in family medicine in 1978. In 1992 he received his certification in Geriatric Medicine.
In 1978 he returned to King with his wife, Betty, to begin his practice in family medicine. As part of his practice, he staffed the community hospital and the county health department. He also began a county jail health program and continued to care for patients in local long-term care facilities.
He has two sons. Carlton shares a love of writing and lives in Raleigh. Justin lives in Winston-Salem and is an engineer at B/E aerospace.
Sam continues to live with Betty, his wife for forty-five years, in King, North Carolina. He continues to be fully involved in his medical practice.
His first novel, Jackie, was published in October 2013. It chronicles the life of an unfortunate child with autism spectrum who was bullied and abused in school till he was ruled uneducable. As a young adult he is discovered to have a near supernatural ability that propels him to a historic destiny.
His recent effort, Joe Peas, grew out of his experiences in medical practice and explores the increasing demands for conformity in our modern world. He does this in the setting of a long-term care facility that gives him the opportunity to both entertain and educate.
Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Joe Peas. To begin with, can you give us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?
A: James King is a family doctor who is bound by a life that is too full of structure and regulation. His routine is interrupted by an itinerant Italian house painter, Joe Peas. Joe’s free spirited life is a sharp contrast to Doc’s. They bond, and eventually, after an accident, Joe becomes a rehab patient in Doc’s long-term care facility. As Doc is drawn to his patient’s vagabond lifestyle, Joe begins to miss the family and human connections he never had.
The long-term care facility is populated by residents with problems including traumatic brain injury, stroke, colon cancer, and advanced age. Joe’s infectious personality gets him involved in all their struggles and issues.
As Joe’s secret life begins to unfold, he creates a plot to help Doc with his own personal struggles. The Italian’s scheme is both unique and surprising.
Q: What do you think makes a good novel? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?
A: Let me counter by my own question. Why write at all?
I write to send a message. In JoePeas, the main message is that we are becoming enslaved by conformity. A continuing theme is a celebration of the individual.
So, a novel sends a message. It may be subliminal, or it may have the power of a sledgehammer, but it should say something.
Second, it should entice the reader to turn the page. Humor, excitement and greed are all factors that contribute to wooing the reader to continue. Sex is also a popular legitimate means of holding attention, but I have no talent for writing erotica, so I largely leave that out.
Third, secondary stories (plots) that keep the reader guessing, “Just where is he going with that?”
The fun is in the trip with the expectation of arriving at a destination.
What else is there? So much that my puny talent can’t begin to fathom!
Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?
A: This story was character driven. It began with the four residents of a skilled nursing facility plus the Joe’s story. Each character’s story was initially written separately. Then they were woven together to provide interaction and, finally, the appropriate resolutions.
Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?
A: My main character, Joe Peas, is based on a patient I treated for twenty years. The model for Joe was an adolescent during World War II and hidden by the resistance in Eastern Europe. After the war, like Joe Peas, he was given a choice. He could live in London, Toronto, or New York. He picked a very American name and became a New Yorker. That true story was too good not to incorporate in a novel at some point.
Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?
A: There are two main antagonists in my story, as there are several simultaneous plots. One is so obvious, that I won’t expound on that here. The second is the extreme opposite of Joe Peas. He is a copy of every irritating front-row school student who continually asked questions to get noticed and raised the ire of the rest of the class. If Joe is the ultimate non-conformist, Professor Watley is a paragon of conformity.
Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?
A: Having several story lines helps. I want to address serious topics in some detail, but I want to make a “good read” as well. If I think I’m getting too serious, I let one of the other characters carry his story for a while. I’ll occasionally throw in a light moment or have him tell a joke. That allows the deeper thought to percolate a bit before resuming the deeper subject. Shorter chapters are placed at the areas where attention may lag. That gives the reader a chance to turn over and begin to tan the other side before resuming the book.
Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?
A: Correct, the setting is an important part of my story. I describe the long-term care facility and the struggles of running a facility. Statistics show that fifty percent of us will spend time in long-term care. A sympathetic narrative should peel away some of the stigma associated with nursing homes.
Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?
A: The continued interaction of Joe and Doc was always the foundation of the story. The character studies were initially meant to be short stories. But I eventually felt they belonged as part of a single work and putting them into Joe’s story invites an interaction with a number of different people that highlights his Italian free spirited life-style.
Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?
A: I think that art comes first, then craft. As I reflect on my own story, I jot or type the story as quickly as possible (I guess that’s art). Then I go back and rewrite as necessary (that’s craft).
Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?
A: First, is there something to be said? Otherwise, what’s the point?
Second, A novelist needs a grasp of what it takes to be a good storyteller. Can he successfully tell a joke?
Third, does he have the patience to methodically piece together? Can he see find imperfections and be honest enough to discard and rewrite?
Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?
A: I don’t see that. I relate writing to an illness, an obsession—an obsession that is mollified by “writing it down.”
Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?
A: Those would be great, and I fully intend to avail myself of those in the future. Like many authors, I am fully employed. I am, In fact over employed, so workshops will have to wait.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?
A: I’m not sure that there is a single formula for a great novel. There are as many different ways to construct a good story as there are novelists. Please write. Make good stories and enjoy the process.