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Friday, November 21, 2014

Interview with Franklin Lafayette King, Authors and Innovators in E-Learning Series

Creative writing, literature, as well as highly personal writing are catalysts in e-learning because they have the capacity to engage deep emotions. Welcome to an interview with Franklin Lafayette King, whose writing is haunting, emotionally compelling, and emotionally engaging. He has also been a trailblazer in elearning, pushing the envelope with technology and also emotionally-engaging, effective approaches that encourage literature and personal self-expression.

1.     What is your name and your experience in e-learning?
Please allow me to introduce myself; my name is Franklin Lafayette King, Ed.D., Associate Vice-President Emeritus and Commander, USNR-Ret. After seeing a small rural Alabama school engaged in an early form of distance learning, I suggested to my university that we too could offer programs at a distance.  This recommendation was made in the early 1990s when the Internet was far from what we know it to be today.  With each advance in technology, the university was able to effectively impact an increasing number of students, and to later become a major force in the educational process reaching students not only in Alabama but throughout the world.

Of particular interest to me was meeting the needs of those who are challenged as well as the students who must work in order to receive an education that would not otherwise have been possible.  The working mother is a prime example of the audience that continues to benefit from e-learning.

2.      How can works of literature be used in e-learning?  
Works of literature challenge the student to use his or her mind in creative ways.  It introduces the student to media that he or she would not otherwise be comfortable with.  The Kindle, iPad, Nook and other similar devices facilitate the sharing and learning of new ideas and interest through literature.  In addition, works of literature are often free or are offered at a nominal cost to students through various sharing programs.  As an example of the economy provided e-learners, my latest book, The Story of James, is offered as an e-book for less than two dollars, a tenth of the cost of the paperback edition.

Literature like art furthers the emotional experience.  We are for a moment allowed to assume the identity of the author as he or she takes us on a journey that would not otherwise be possible.  On a personal note, I am richer for having walked the streets of Dublin in the company of a digital copy of James Joyce's Ulysses.

Literature is often identified with social movements.  The novel 1984 by George Orwell continues to influence our attitude towards the role of government in society. Walden written by Henry David Thoreau over a hundred and fifty-years ago teaches us to appreciate our fragile human and natural environments.

Literature allows the reader to place that which is mathematical and scientific within the context of humanity.  The knowledge that we gain through literature can be viewed within a shared community to which we vicariously belong.

3.       Please tell us about some of your works - how they relate to location, historical moments, etc.
I do not write stories that I cannot directly relate to.  I must visit a location or live there in order to incorporate it into my writings.  I feel that location is a major contributor to the writing process.  It plays a character role in my work whether it be in poetry, essay or novel.   

Lost Graves is based upon my own experiences in an antebellum house that I have owned for more than two decades but am now hesitant to live in.  The incidents that have occurred have created an unease within both myself and my family.

The Woods of Coole was built upon my many visits to Ireland, and to the site of Lady Gregory's house in particular.  Anyone that visits the former estate will be moved by the surrounding mature forest and the scant traces of the house that still remain. 

The setting and plot for In the Shadow of Leaves came from the week that I spent on Inishbofin, a small island off the west coast of Ireland.  It was the perfect setting for exploring an Irish legend that involved both trees and the role of fairies in the mythology of Irish literature.

4.    Please describe the Story of James.  In your opinion, what makes it special? 
The Story of James and Other Writings consists of two novellas and selected poems.  The first novella, The Story of James, is enriched by my own experience with cancer with all of the physical, financial and emotional upheavals that result.  A journey that has not yet ended.  Having lived in Galveston for several years as a child, it like Houston, was a familiar setting for the story.

Seeing the impact of cancer upon children was the most emotional part of my daily routine.  During my treatment sessions, I witnessed adolescents, toddlers and even infants awaiting their own therapy.   I saw firsthand the bonding of families and strangers.  The kindness shown to these children was far more moving than written words or verbal accolades could ever express.  It was their story and the story of those touched by this disease that I wanted to capture.  I hope that it will remind the reader how beautiful and fragile life is regardless of age.

The second novella, the Tribe of Noah reflects in many ways my own journey. I, like Noah, own a green 1969 VW bus.  In addition I walked the streets of Provincetown, Massachusetts and like the protagonist, I too had a book of poetry that did not sell a single copy.  I hope that those who love the writing process and too often experience its frustrations will enjoy this short work.

The idea for the poems based upon the works of the Impressionist painters came to me as I viewed their work in the Musee d'Orsay in Paris.  The plot of a Woman in the Window was deepened by my own Vietnam combat experience and my love for Paris, its painters and sculptors. 

Many of my poems are located in the countryside whether it is Texas, Europe, the Far East or the islands of the Caribbean.  Having lived on a cotton farm, I early grew to love the sights, sounds and scents of nature.  Like all that experienced farm life, I am familiar with both poverty and abundance.

Above all, I want to thank Dr. Susan Smith Nash and Texture Press for the opportunity to share my works with others.  My journey into writing would not have occurred without their ongoing encouragement.

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