Author returns outrageous Brit in second book

By Wayne Bryan Originally Published December 20, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated December 19, 2012 at 11:07 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Patrick Adcock is a retired English professor from HSU. He has written a second book in a series about an Englishman and his friends who move to a a fictional community that just happens to look like Arkadelphia.

— Writer and retired English professor Patrick Adcock wants to make one thing clear to his readers and friends — the town of Arcady, which is the setting of his two novels, is not his hometown of Arkadelphia.

“Some might think it is, but it is not,” Adcock said at his home on Monday. “Arkadelphia is a real town and Arcady is fiction.”

In the opening of his first book, Muggsbottom and Me: A Study in Anglo-Arkansas Relations, Adcock described Arcady as “a community of 10,000 souls ... located in southwestern Arkansas, a healthy distance down the Interstate from that Sodom on the river, Little Rock, but alas, within easy sinning distance of the resort town of Hot Springs.”

Arcady is the county seat and the sale of alcoholic beverages are prohibited by law. It is also the home of two small colleges — one state and one Baptist.

This should clear up any confusion by any readers that Arcady is very different from Arkadelphia, where alcohol sales have been allowed for almost a year. But then Adcock wrote his first book in 1993.

The author recently has returned to the non-Arkadelphia community of Arcady with a second book, Muggsbottom on the Road. That book was released earlier this year.

In the first book, the author introduces his main character, C.P. Muggsbottom.

This conservative English gentleman arrives in America as a refugee from what the character calls “socialist Great Britain.”

Adcock said his title character has come to this country based on his preconceived notions of America.

“He believes, or pretends to believe, that America is as it was before the Civil War,” Adcock said. “With that misconception, he thinks he works well with people, but he is always giving offense.”

He is soon joined by three fellow Englishmen whose personalities are as outrageous as their names.

They are Sir Montague Capulet, a noble with a name to make any Shakespeare lover laugh; Capt. “Biffy” Smythe-Gardner, late of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy because of some incident that goes unspoken; and Reggie Dipwizzle, whose wealthy and respectable parents pay him a yearly fee to stay away from the family manor in Hertfordshire.

The four misfits are befriended by one of the English professors at the state college in Arcady, who goes unnamed in the book, but is called “my liberal colleague,” by Muggsbottom. It is this narrator who “writes” both books, according to the plot.

That unnamed narrator is not Patrick Adcock, 75, the creator of the characters, who taught English literature for 29 years at Henderson State University.

After a series of misadventures, told by the narrator, Muggsbottom leaves Arcady at the end of the first book.

Muggsbottom and Me, published by Baskerville Publishers, enjoyed some modest success, and Adcock said he turned his attention elsewhere, until last year.

“My wife died two years ago; maybe I was just looking for something to do,” Adcock said. “Also, I remembered a good review that ran in the Tulsa World that said, ‘The author is obviously preparing us for a sequel.’ So I thought I would give it a try.”

In Muggsbottom on the Road, the comically irritating Englishman returns to America because he has written a book about his adventures, something the narrator has already done. The narrator is not happy to hear about Muggsbottom’s book, but he accompanies him on a book tour that goes from Memphis to St. Louis and eventually to New Orleans, but never to Arkansas.

“The liberal colleague is upset that Muggsbottom has written the book, and even more so that his book tour is bigger and better than his was,” Adcock said.

Getting the second book out has been different than publishing the first one, he said.

“By the time I got the second one done, Baskerville had changed and they had dropped their fiction line,” Adcock said. “I wrote to another writer I know in Texas about my problem, and he said online books were the way to go.”

The author was still not sure about getting the book out online until he talked with another friend at the local Subway.

“He said I should publish online and told me about Amazon,” Adcock said.

The major online retailer of books, films and many other items sells some books online, then will print them as orders come in for the title.

“That is why this one is a paperback and the first was hard cover,” Adcock said.

But without a publisher who has a stockpile of books to sell, he has had to promote the books.

“This is my first experience of handling the promotion of the book myself,” Adcock said. “It did well when it first came home but fell off some in the fall.”

So the author has been writing letters hoping for reviewers to get the word out about his book.

Having been a teacher of British literature, Adcock was confident that he could create a British character, especially one who was comical, and place him in Arcady.

“I have lived in Arkadelphia most of my life and taught English novels, plays, essays and poems for years. I visited England once,” he said.

Much of the story also is set in the state college in the fictitious city.

”I did poke some fun at my profession,” Adcock said. “I think being a professor is the world’s greatest job, but I used to laugh at some of my colleagues who complained about the work.”

The author said that made some people think they were perhaps being characterized in the books.

“They would say, ‘That’s me,’ or ‘I know who that is,’” Adcock said. “I will say I know people who were like some of the characters.”

Some of the things that happen also are based on reality, but only slightly, he said.

“Some of the experiences in the book are my own,” Adcock said. “But this is a farce, and so I take something that happened and then push it to the extreme.”

While this is his second novel, Adcock will admit that he has written 11 novels in all, but nine remain unpublished. He did help another writer with a children’s book, where he is listed as editor.

Adcock said the novels and his characters have given him a chance to say something he might not have said in normal conversations with his friends and neighbors. It is all in fun, he said.

The writer always reminds everyone this is all fiction.

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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