After years as the editor behind Connie Schultz and Regina Brett, former Plain Dealer staffer Stuart Warner has written his first book, Jock: A Coach’s Story (Wind Publications, $16), the biography of Jock Sutherland, a beloved basketball coach and commentator from Warner’s hometown, Lexington, Ky. We talked to Warner about what it’s like to go from narrative coach to storyteller.
Q. How is Jock Sutherland known in Kentucky, and what did you know or discover that was different?
A. He’s known for great stories he tells. He was the coach everyone went to for a quote. He was a very good high school basketball coach. Everyone in Kentucky knows the caricature of him, but they don’t know the inside, the little boy who had no father, who stuttered and always found a way to overcome these things. I don’t think people know him as a father and a father figure and how he became that without ever having that role model.
Q. What did you learn by helping others write narratives that you applied to this book?
A. The book is what I teach: combining the style of fiction with the discipline of journalism and developing a character through details. It was me trying to use the disciplines that I learned and apply it to myself and prove to myself that I could carry it through 80,000 words.
Q. What kind of Cleveland reader will be interested in this book?
A. Somebody who’s lived through change. Especially someone who’s come through the ’50s and ’60s, who’s needed a father figure in their life or been a father figure.
Tales from the Road includes all the stories we’d expect from Neil Zurcher, original host of Fox 8 News’ “One Tank Trips.” The collection of short, first-person vignettes reveal his memories, adventures and mishaps with a humorous twinkle — jumping his bike through a ring of fire as a child, riding shotgun in police cruisers to cover 911 calls, and the many, many car troubles he endured during his lifetime of travel.