There are so many times in my life that I expected one thing and received something completely different. This feeling pervaded when I finished a phone interview with author Alex Cord today. Many of us know Mr. Cord through his work in television and movies. What we are finding out is that Alex is a provocative and enticing writer who employs intriguing plots to offer us books that are totally readable.
His book A Feather in the Rain has won the Glyph Award for popular fiction. Recently, he’s authored a revealing memoir titled From Wheelbarrow to Ferrari and Back Again. I found the book to be an enlightening narrative of a man who reached for a star and held it and then found peace through self-understanding.
I hope you will enjoy the following interview as much as I did. You may also enjoy this interview with Western bestseller Robert Hanlon.
Bennett: I’d like to start with your new memoir, From Wheelbarrow to Ferrari and Back Again. Your life seems to have come full circle. Tell me about that journey.
AC: I’m a totally different person today. I had feelings of guilt that I needed to get off my chest. Writing the book was like going to confession. I’m not proud of things that I’ve done. But I’ve found the most important thing a person can do with their life is figure out one’s self.
My father was one of the greatest men that ever lived. But he never had anything or would be considered to be special. I wanted to be the same as my father. When I look in the mirror, today, I see I’ve become more and more like him.
Bennett: So from humble beginnings you realized some great things. Tell me what motivated you?
AC: Curiosity. I’ve always been curious. I wanted to learn so that I could improve myself.
I feel different today about things I learned when I was young. I grew up in the Catholic Church. I found that I questioned that religion constantly. I left the Catholic Church because I couldn’t be a part of a religion based on fear.
But I realize today that there are consequences for your actions. I have a different relationship with God and Christ than back then. I’ve recently gone back to church – a different church which is Bible teaching. I’m trying to be more like Christ in my daily life.
Bennett: In what way?
AC: More tolerant and more forgiving. Though, I don’t give my time to people who I think don’t deserve it. You only have a certain amount of time and have to be careful who you give it to.
Writing is beneficial to who and what I am – aspiring to be meaningful.
Bennett: You’ve had a great deal of success. Isn’t that meaningful?
AC: Success and popularity, no question it’s nice to be admired by people. I had the courage to dream about things most people don’t allow themselves to think about. When I was young, I had the feeling anything was possible. Back then I had no one encouraging me to be more than what I was.
But I was an avid reader. I read the best writers in the world. I read art, the classics. I read one John Steinbeck novel three times with a highlighter in my hand. I’ve thought out loud, “Good God! Look at the way he said that!”
When I went to college I majored in English Literature. I didn’t know who Shakespeare was before. Early in my career, I acted in Shakespeare Theater in Stratford, CT. I was a part of the genius of Shakespeare and the way he expressed himself through words.
William Faulkner, Ernest Hemmingway revolutionized the American novel. I valued all writers because each one approached their craft differently. People said that every good story had already been told. But there was always room for a new story.
I just started reading The Alchemist for the first time. It’s in its twentieth year of being a best seller. Twenty years a best seller!
Curiosity and courage. I felt if I wanted something bad enough I could make it come true. In fact, [laughs] the universe conspires to make it come true. If you dream, the universe focuses on your desires and dreams to make them come true.
Bennett: What did you want to do?
AC: Become educated.
I quit high school. I was living the good life as a wanderer. No problem, as I managed to support myself from a very young age. There was a feeling of inadequacy because of a lack of an education. I thought a formal education would lead to fulfillment.
Since I was an avid reader, I decided on English Literature. Besides, I observed that all of the pretty girls were in the arts department. That’s where I really began to develop an interest in the theater.
Bennett: Come on, I can’t believe you ever had a problem attracting pretty girls.
AC: In high school, I couldn’t get a date for anything. I was timid, shy, and insecure. Good looks aren’t everything.
I knew an actor named Monty Landis. He was certainly not a good-looking guy. He was rather odd looking but had a great sense of humor. He was always with the most beautiful women. He had the courage to go up to anyone and start a conversation.
College was the first time I had confidence in approaching women. Today, if I had to go to a bar to pick up women, I couldn’t do it. I never had the guts to go up and talk to a total stranger.
Bennett: When did you decide to start writing?
AC: I’d thought about the idea for what was originally titled The Man Who Would be God for fifteen years. I was motivated by an idea for power. If I ruled the world there were many things I would change.
When I started writing, I wrote for four to six hours per day for nearly a year and a half. The wonderful thing I found is the words flowed from my unconscious mind. The idea of wanting to be powerful. The reader is not sure what is reality and what isn’t until that power becomes a reality.
Bennett: I went through a similar experience writing a book that I poured much of myself and an inordinate amount of time into writing. Then no one read it. Does that frustrate you as much as it does me?
AC: Yes, it is frustrating. Though, more people want to read the book. Feather in the Rain won a Glyph Award for popular fiction. People give it good reviews. You know, most people leave a five star review.
Harrison Ford gave it a good review. I know Harrison Ford from acting together in the TV show Gunsmoke. We’re not close friends, but he read the book. He’s not going to leave a good review unless he really liked it.
Sylvester Stallone, too. I played polo with Stallone. You know, he wanted to play and he was okay. He liked the book and gave it a good review. That didn’t make it a best-seller. It’s had more success thanks to Nick Wale.
Success in writing is more in believing in what you have done and always being positive. Believe in yourself and be grateful for the blessings you have. If you let yourself get frustrated, you don’t enjoy things that are more productive. You waste your life by being angry.
I remember once being asked during a particularly difficult period of my life why I was not more pissed off. “Angry is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.” It’s challenging to get the best of it, but all it hurts is you.
Bennett: Do you have more lifelong friends or have you found more friends recently?
AC: I have very few lifelong friends. These are guys I still see and can talk to and have great relationships with. There are only maybe three of them.
When I moved to Texas, I found really good friends. The kind of friends who support you. I’ve known Robert Fuller for nearly sixty years. I was the guy who said he should move to Texas, he should check it out. So, he moved here. Now he’s got more friends than I do.
Bennett: Well, I’ve kept you for a long while and want to thank you for taking the time to discuss your books and your life with me.
AC: Well, I have to go because I have a call in ten minutes with a fellow who’s writing a book on Ernie Borgnine. I not only was in Airwolf on television with him but acted in three movies with Ernie. He was a great guy.
Bennett: I hope you’ll continue to write. I enjoyed your fiction as well as your memoir and have truly enjoyed this conversation.
AC: I hope we’ll have the chance to meet in person sometime. Adios!
Read Alex Cord’s bestselling A Feather in the Rain on Kindle or other media now. Follow this link for more information on this thought provoking and different kind of Western.