Leading a quilled guild
Christopher J. Fontenot, Ville Platte author, was elected president of the Writers’ Guild of Acadiana. The Writers’ Guild is a group of authors from Acadiana who meet once a month to discuss the writing process. They also have guest speakers and small writing contests.
The Writers’ Guild of Acadiana meets the last Tuesday of every month at 7:00 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in Lafayette. “The organization is there to support writers, poets, song writers/musicians, and given them a little help in their ambitions to publish,” said Fontenot. The last guest speaker was Mel Lecompte, who authored the book “Sharpened Iron” about the Tee Cotton Bowl. “Every other month we have a prompt where people can write something,” added Fontenot. “Sometimes it’s a poem, sometimes it’s a song, sometimes it’s a short piece of fiction, 500 words or less. It’s a competition. Everybody reads their piece and whoever wins, their piece is placed into a compilation of writing for the last two years and we publish it.”
Fontenot said every month they have a sort of training session called Goal Diggers. Members who participate learn writing techniques and swap writing to critique each other. Goal Digger meetings are held at 6:30 p.m. on the third Monday of every month, also at Barnes & Noble.
Fontenot said he would like to start another guild in Evangeline Parish. He particularly would like to have speakers, one day a month, to offer suggestions for people learning how to write or improve their skills.
Fontenot is the author of the Acadian Prairie series, a historical fiction series which focuses on a family of Cajuns and their lineage. In 2016 he published the first of the Acadian Prairie stories set in the years between 1835 and 1867. “The Acadian Prairie: Theodule” covers the tumultuous period of the Vigilante and Anti-Vigilante war and the Civil War in the Acadian Prairie. The second novel in the series takes the story to the next generation and covers the time between 1877, the end of Reconstruction, and 1896.
The third book/generation will follow Amelie Dupre and her brother, Octave, as they grow up at the turn of the century.
The fourth book will be about Octave, to be titled “Tave.” This will cover the same years as Amelie, but the story will be about Octave and his wife. The time line will include the Ville Platte Dance Hall fire of 1919.
The final story in the series will follow the same families, and Octave’s son Joel, through World War I and II, and finally bring the fourth generation into the 1960s.
“All of the stories have been written. They’re all in rough draft form. All I have to do is go back and polish them up,” said Fontenot. “When I finish with Octave--his last son is Joel, and he’ll bring the family history to 1960, and that’s going to be the end of the Acadian Prairie series. By that time the prairie has been long gone; it’s been carved up into fields and barb wire and fences and everything.”
After the Acadian Prairie series ends, Fontenot will start with the St. Thomas Chronicles, which includes some of the same families from The Acadian Prairie series and follow four close friends as they grow up attending a parochial school through the watershed years of the late 1960s and, in later novels, into the 1970s. This series will feature another big fire, based off the fire that destroyed Sacred Heart High School in 1968.
Aside from historical fiction, Fontenot also writes science fiction. His sci-fi work-in-progress is a story line called the Haven Series, yet to be published, which describes life in a dystopian future in which radical extremist religious groups all but destroy civilization in their drive to convert everyone on the planet. This series follows the desperate efforts to halt the spread of that extremist religion before it plunges the world into a new Dark Age.
Fontenot is fond of writing in coffee shops. “Typing in a coffee shop is now second nature to me. I can put three, four, or five hours of work in a sitting. I couldn’t do that at home. At home I’ve got dishes I can wash, I’ve got clothes to wash, I can sweep the floors, etc.”
Fontenot will be one of the featured authors at the Friends of the Library book festival on Saturday, October 26 at the Ville Platte library. His books are available for purchase on Amazon.com or from him, personally. He will have copies of his books for sale at the book festival.