S.W. Ellenwood (or Sam as he is known to his friends) sits down at Fort Smith’s newest coffee shop, The Coffee Cup. “I’m somewhat nervous,” he laughs while telling me he’s never been interviewed. One would not be able to tell though since Sam is well-spoken and easy to talk to. He is a Greenwood native that was homeschooled until becoming a business marketing major at UAFS, which he refers to as “the creative side of business.” He is involved in the Baptist Collegiate Ministries and with Grand Avenue Baptist Church. What makes this college senior standout though is that he is a self-published author.
In his debut book, The Janitor and the Spy, Sam states his main goal was to “entertain the reader.” This spy-thriller set in Amsterdam follows Thomas Thornhill throughout his first undercover mission. What is supposed to be a simple investigation turns into an intricate adventure of alley-way thugs and untrustworthy allies. As the story unfolds, the protagonist questions his mission and therefore, the plot itself. There is a major twist, something Sam said he’d always envisioned for the book. “I worked backwards to achieve it,” the author says. While this story is very plot-driven, the characters are still well-developed.
“My friends say Thornhill has pieces of me in him,” he smiles. When asked about his writing process, Sam says his initial draft was the most difficult part: “I struggled with it while writing this, but after barreling through, I found the story almost writing itself.” Including the editing process, Sam says it took around two years to write his book. He credits his friend and UAFS media communications major, Jake Kremer, with the cover.
“When I received my first proof of the book, I literally laughed and cried at the same time. It was like holding a baby.”
Should we expect more from this budding author? Yes. Sam’s already working on the 2nd book of the Thornhill series, The Dragon and the Lumberjack. In the meantime, The Janitor and the Spy is available in hard copy on Amazon for $9.95 and on Kindle for just 99 cents. Perhaps we will see it in the UAFS bookstore soon.