Former Gadsden Times executive writes novel about his experiences

A former editor of the Gadsden Times is publishing a new series of four novels, the latest installment of which is titled ‘Etowah County’.

Rusty Starr, who worked at The Times from 1986 to 1996, says he remembers his days in Gadsden “with fondness”.

“It was great to lead a dedicated team in the newsroom, and it was great to work alongside great people in the community who are committed to making life better in the Gadsden area,” he said. he declares.

His Etowah County-inspired book is described as “a fictionalized account of the confrontation between county commissioners and a federal judge regarding the construction of the present jail.”

Starr said, “We’ve done some great reporting during this time, but I can assure you that a novel gets through the journalistic process as well as a lot of heckling.”

While in Gadsden, Starr led the Times newsroom to numerous awards, both statewide and nationally. One of the honored stories won first place in a state contest against an entry that won the Pulitzer Prize for Montgomery’s announcer.

Starr left Gadsden to become publisher of the Daily News in Palatka, Florida. He retired in 2013 and still resides in Palatka, which launched his career as a novel writer.

“After I retired, I tried to write a novel about 10 college friends with a grizzly bet to make them nine millionaires,” he said. “I just couldn’t get it to be. When I started writing on newsrooms, it was something I knew. The words just flowed.

Starr said his work in four different newsrooms was the primary inspiration for his novels, with an emphasis on fictionalized accounts of his personal experiences in each of the places he worked.

For example, his debut novel, “Hoxie,” is based in 1976 and pits an Arkansas reporter against corrupt and violent officials in a town of the same name. The journalist receives help from Arkansas Attorney General Bill Clinton, as well as a prominent drug lord.

“I guess all of my books would be classified as action-adventure fiction,” Starr said, adding that her novels try to capture journalism as it was and as it should have been and focused primarily on “ the way journalism should still be”. .”

“I had fun writing each book, but a lot has changed in our world. My first idea for a novel was shattered because of these changes. It would have challenged the wisdom of seven people working late at night to determine what people in a city would read about their world in their morning paper. In fact, that model was far superior to the unbridled world of cyberspace,” he said.

A release date for “Etowah County” will be set once an official final cut has been made by Starr.

“I hope my friends at Gadsden enjoy reading about my three career stops before I took over the newsroom of The Times,” Starr said.

Irene B. Bowles