After graduating from the University of Texas, Williams attended what is now the Paul H. Nilze, School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopikins University, located in Washington, D.C. He received a Ph.D. from SAIS in 1971., is a Professor Emeritus of Political Science and International Studies at Austin College in Sherman Texas. He is also the President of the Osgood Center For International Studies in Washington D.C.
Williams is a specialist in issues relating to nuclear proliferation. He has served as an adviser to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and also as a special assistant to Madeleine Albright
Shelly... as his close friends call him writes fiction, murder mystery novels taking place in his home town of Odessa Texas.
Take a look at his newest book called COVEY JENCKS!
Covey Jencks grew up in Odessa, Texas. After college, he joined the Army, attended law school, clerked on the Fifth Circuit, and suffered a stint at a D. C. law firm. He quits a life of white privilege to return home to solve the mysterious 1979 murder of Freddie Johnson, a black employee at Covey’s family business. Her life matters to Covey. For cover Covey opens a small firm filled with big characters. Eventually another black woman reenters his life to become Covey’s crime-solving partner. Mexican gangs, Boston mobsters, and racist cops complicate but do not derail the successful investigation.
I not only kept Fatman’s and the south side a secret, but I also kept Bonnie Jay secret. B.J. was my age. She sometimes worked at Fatman’s. She was a cheerleader at Ector High School, the mostly minority school in Odessa. And she was smart, funny, and sexy as hell. After a few visits south, we became friends and then slightly more than friends. A kiss here, a close dance there. Excitement always. That I liked her and that I kept her a secret was, of course, like my dad. Daddy always led two lives and one of those lives was on the south side and much of it involved Freddie Mae. Later it hit me that I, too, was racist. I, too, played at a double life. I, too, acted like only one side of my existence mattered. The funny thing was that B.J. was a totally upright citizen and I behaved towards her even more gentlemanly than I did towards Callie.
I finally broke it off with B.J. after six or eight months of seeing her at Fatman’s and taking her on dates to Ben’s Little Mexico on the south side. We talked a lot and made out a little. I think she really liked me, but I broke it off. I did not do it because she was black, not because she ever complained about not going downtown to the movies with me, not because I feared exposure of my secret life, but because B.J. did not put out. I mean, I never really tried with her, but I thought that it would just happen. Deep inside my racist soul I thought a black girl would have sex more easily than a white girl; she would have an easy virtue; she would solve my “problem.” She would initiate it.
“Why did you go and break it off with that girl, Covey Jencks?”
Freddie Mae was cleaning the inside of a blue Ford Fairlane as I drove it from the vacuum to the steam cleaning station at the entry way to the car wash. We often grabbed conversation in 30 second trips from the vacuum to the steam pit. Usually a full conversation would take the better part of a morning, but this time no car was behind the Ford, so I did not get out when we reached the pit. With Freddie I was always totally honest-eventually.
“What did B.J. say?”
- When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? In high school basically. I wrote poetry and short stories. In college I minored in English, but political science took me to graduate school. I wrote my first book at 24.
- How long does it take you to write a book? It takes years to think of what kind of book to write, but when I start, I usually finish in a year.
- What is your work schedule like when you're writing? I have always had a full-time job when I was writing, so the book is extra. I usually write 5:00-8:00 AM.
- How do your books get published? I have always written the book first and then looked for a publisher. Have never used an agent. I just keep submitting, but fortunately something works out.
- Where do you get your information or ideas for your books? My ideas come from reality around me, but I try to imagine how the ordinary person caught up in extraordinary events would experience them.
- When did you write your first book and how old were you? I was 24 and in graduate school. I published a book before I wrote my dissertation.
- What do you like to do when you're not writing? When not writing, I focus on work but think about what to write next
- What does your family think of your writing? My family supports me but sometimes it is more like tolerates me. My grandkids love it.
- What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? The most surprising thing was how many people I got to meet in the research, promoting, and long-terms effects of the books. I had a conversation yesterday about the first book I wrote in 1969.
- How many books have you written? Which is your favorite? I have written 5 books and made significant contributions to two others. My favorite is the one I will write next. Fortunately, folks tell me that their favorite could be anyone of the ones I have written.
- Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they? To become a better writer, read as much as you can and edit your own work more than that.
- Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? I do hear from readers because many are my former students. Washed in the Blood, the story of my cousin’s incredible murder, still generates inquiries and comments 15 years after it appeared. The comments are usually gratitude for having told her story and shock at how the trial acquitted her killer.
- Do you like to create books for adults? All my books are for adults, but older teens really love Washed. The feedback from older folks about Covey Jencks make me very happy.
- What do you think makes a good story? A good story is a universal story that transcends time, place and economic status. Finding the universal in the particular is good writing.
- As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? I have always wanted to be a professor and I am in my 50th year of it.
- Any books in the works? I have currently writing a second Covey Jencks book. I hope there will be many more.
- What are your plans for the future? My plans are to keep writing and to tell stories to my grandkids.
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