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Salisburys newest book offers howling good time

by: CLiff Newell, 
Author Graham Salisbury took awhile on his life journey before becoming an author.

If Graham Salisbury had time to be philosophical (which he doesn't) he might reflect on the unusual road his life has led him the past 15 years.

n An author with nine books published, and three more in the hopper.

n Winner of a list of children's book awards as long as his arm, including one named for one of his heroes.

n Lots and lots of young fans, including, quite gratifyingly, his own three children.

But Salisbury is too busy. He functions sort of as the 'Norm' of the Starbucks on Meadows Road in Lake Oswego (although he chugs down coffee, not beer), where he spends three hours each and every morning writing on his Macintosh laptop.

That is where Salisbury completed his recently published youth novel 'Night of the Howling Dogs,' whose title alone ought to win him another prize.

'I like the white noise and all the activity,' said the Lake Oswego resident. 'I know all of the baristas. They call me their resident author.'

As an author, Salisbury didn't just bloom, he erupted. At age 30 he wasn't an author. In fact, he wasn't even a reader. He was a successful property manager and new father.

One night he was giving a bottle to his baby son Keenan when he picked up a book that someone had left lying around. It was 'Roots' by Alex Haley.

'That was the first time a book sucked me in,' Salisbury said.

Soon, he found himself being an author for junior high-age boys, and a very successful one. He is best known for 'Under The Blood Red Sun,' which he calls 'far and away my most popular book. Schools use it to introduce World War II. It has great parallels to our own era, too.'

That work won Salisbury the Scott O'Dell Award. That was extremely special because O'Dell, author of the classic 'Island of the Blue Dolphins,' was one of his heroes.

'His widow presented me the award,' Salisbury said. 'That was a real big deal for me.'

'Night of the Howling Dogs' is a breakaway for Salisbury. Not only is it his first thriller but it's also a study of how two antagonistic boys come together in the face of disaster.

'It's about a great relationship between two boys who are totally different,' Salisbury said. 'It's how they come together in a crisis and act as one.

'It sort of reminds me of how Americans came together after 9-11. That was a grand moment.'

The story told in the book actually happened to Salisbury's cousin and all of the events are real - how in 1975 a troop of Boy Scouts in Hawaii camped near a volcano that ended up erupting and causing a huge tsunami.

'I visited that very spot five years after it happened,' Salisbury said. 'It was fantastic.'

'Night of the Howling Dogs' is hot off the press and available at Borders Book Store at Bridgeport Village and also on amazon.com.

But Salisbury isn't resting on his laurels. He is now reaching out to an even younger audience with a series of three books that feature a character named Calvin Coconut.

Thus, he is more deeply entrenched at Starbucks than ever.

'I was turning out a book every two years, but my editor (Wendy Lamb) told me, 'It would be nice to see a book a year from you.' '

The solution came four years ago when Salisbury started writing at the Starbucks on Meadows.

'It increased my production ten-fold,' Salisbury said. 'I don't have any distractions from my e-mail or telephone.'

Fueled by a double grandee light room Americano and attention from ultra-friendly baristas like Alana Farrell, Salisbury turns into a writing machine.

'When we found we had an author here, we thought it was fabulous,' Farrell said. 'Graham always sits here and writes away. He's always telling about his books and what books he's starting. We totally enjoy it.'

Salisbury has support on the home front, too, with sons Keenan, 16, and Zach, 13.

'My boys like my books and their friends like my books,' Salisbury said.

Then there is his 9-year-old daughter Annie Rose.

'She's my biggest critic,' Salisbury said.

To find out more about Graham Salisbury and his work go to his Internet Web site at www.grahamsalisbury.com.