Thursday, July 8, 2010

Friends write novel together

CEDAR FALLS --- Dave Hoing, 54, of Cedar Falls, and Roger Hileman, 53, of Iowa City, share a love for music, humor and the written word.
Friends since they walked the halls of Waterloo West High School, Hoing and Hileman are compelled to create. They count numerous individual and collaborative projects to their credit.
Hoing, a published short story writer, is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Hileman is a musician and enjoys writing plays.
Some joint undertakings were more or less for their own amusement, like a parody of "Star Trek" starring the Marx Brothers. Or, Hoing adds, an original musical about Napoleon and Venice.
They have a flair for the comedic, Hileman says.
Several years ago the friends decided to turn a screenplay by Hileman into a full-fledged work of historical fiction. All Things That Matter Press released the book last month.
"Hammon Falls," spanning 1893 through 2009, is Hoing's first published novel and Hileman's first novel.
Hileman can trace his family's history in Waterloo back to the 1890s. He used ancestors as a template for the book's main characters. The partners filled out key players using their imagination, old photographs, documents and wishful thinking. The tale also is loosely inspired by local history.
"The more I learned about my family in Waterloo, the more I got interested in Waterloo history," Hileman said.
Central to the novel is George Hammon, who, driven by a great personal loss and manipulative parents, flees small-town Iowa for the horrors of World War I. He returns years later to find a complicated entanglement of murder, suicide and surprises.
"It's this big, family battle," Hileman said.
In a book review, Carol Kean wrote: "With carefully crafted prose, the authors seamlessly transport us from character to character, across an ocean and 12 decades, into the present, when a new generation may at last rise above the sins of the fathers.
"This haunting, lyrical story will stay with you long after you turn the last page," Kean concludes.
The story is revealed out of sequence, using flashbacks and different vantage points.
Longtime residents of the Cedar Valley and history buffs who read "Hammon Falls" may identify familiar, if not entirely accurate references to real people, places and things. References to an Electrical Park, a railroad strike and the death of a gangster are based, to some degree, on local lore, as are tornadoes in Pomeroy and Parkersburg.
Hoing and Hileman said they took care to research dialogue of the day, modern conveniences, fashions and natural and historical events. But "Hammon Falls" is first and foremost a work of fiction, Hoing said. The men wanted the creative liberty to change dates, names and other details for the story's sake.
Likewise, Hoing and Hileman don't know the true nature of the scandalous relationship between the real-life George Hammon and his lover, Cora. So they did what fiction writers get to do: They filled in the gaps.
"We turned it into a love story because that's what it should have been," Hoing said.
Hoing is a longtime library associate at the University of Northern Iowa. Hileman is a test development associate for ACT.
"Hammon Falls" is available on

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