DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
MARBLE FALLS — As a writer, Jan Reid has resisted specializing in a certain form, genre or even topics. Though he started his career wanting to focus on novels, Reid’s own storyline has taken him up and down various narrative arcs, including as a shooting victim and a friendship with the late former Texas Gov. Ann Richards.
“I’ve always resisted being tagged to a specialty,” Reid said. ” A lot of people think that is the way you’re supposed to build a career as a writer. I just didn’t want to do that, and I think it’s worked out well for me.”
Reid is the the latest author to take part in the Marble Falls Public Library’s Lunch With an Author series. His presentation is 11:30 a.m. Nov. 15 at the library, 101 Main St. The event includes a lunch, by donation, before Reid begins his program. Reservations are required and can be made by calling (830) 693-3023.
The focus of Reid’s presentation will be his latest book, “Let the People In: The Life and Times of Ann Richards.”
WHAT: Lunch With an Author — Jan Reid
WHEN: 11:30 a.m. Nov. 15
WHERE: Marble Falls Public Library, 101 S. Main St. in Marble Falls
FOR RESERVATIONS: Call (830) 693-3023
Most people know Richards for two things: She was the 45th governor of Texas and she quipped the line during the 1988 Democratic convention in reference to George H. W. Bush, “Poor George, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”
Even before and after those two points in her timeline, Reid said Richards lived an incredibly interesting life.
“She had an incredible arc of life before she was in politics,” Reid said. “She had quite a life apart from those four years (as Texas governor).”
Reid first met Richards when she was the state treasurer. His wife was a senior aide to Richards. During this time, he had the chance to get to know Richards before she won the 1990 Texas governor’s race. Richards spent one term in office before George W. Bush unseated her in the 1994 election.
Still, her life kept taking interesting paths before she died in 2006.
After Richard’s death, a Texas Monthly editor approached Reid about writing a piece for the magazine on the late governor. It was one of his first pieces on Richards, and it helped spur the idea for the eventual biography.
But it still would be a few years before Reid tackled the project. Though he created a career as a magazine writer with Texas Monthly and other publications as well as an author of a few biographies, Reid started his career wanting to be a novelist. He began writing short stories, but these eventually led him into magazine writing with Texas Monthly, where he built a career.
It appeared Reid had left his novel aspirations behind.
“I was mainly a magazine journalist until that incident in Mexico,” he said.
“That incident in Mexico” was a shooting that almost killed Reid. In 1998, Reid and three friends were in Mexico City when two gunmen jumped in the cab in which they were traveling. The men ordered the four out of the cab. During the process, one of the gunmen shot Reid from a distance of about 15 feet with a .38-caliber revolver. The bullet slammed into Reid under his ribs and just missed his aorta.
“It changed my life,” Reid said.
After the shooting, Reid realized he still had books he needed to write. So, along with his magazine career, he added novelist and biographer to his résumè. He has written at least 10 books, including “The Bullet Meant for Me,” which takes a look at that shooting, his life and his recovery.
The Richards biography is his latest work. He wasn’t looking to write a book on the former governor, but, after completing a novel, Reid began considering his next project. One of his editors recalled the magazine articles Reid penned about Richards, and the two tossed around the idea of a biography.
While others had written about Richards, most of those works focused on her political career, especially from the 1988 Democratic convention through her years as governor. Reid, however, realized Richards’ story spanned many decades before the governor’s mansion and several years after.
Richards came to politics later in life, but the journey leading up to it makes for a fascinating subject.
“She just has a fascinating narrative of her life,” Reid said. During the Nov. 15 program, Reid plans on letting people in on not only Richards’ journey, but his in tackling her biography. “I’ll talk about how I came to write the book, about her and her amazing arc of life.”
The event is open to the public. Reid will have copies of the book available at the program.