Author Fred Afflerbach recently discussed his new novel about truckers and life on the road with students during Mass Comm Week.
Afflerbach, who grew up in a literary family, said he always had a love for writing. Afflerbach was an avid writer during his years as a trucker, and often wrote about his life on the road as a way to pass the time or chronicle his trucking experiences. When Afflerbach decided that it was time to move on from the trucking business, he filled the void with writing.
Afflerbach decided in 2002 to enroll in a few night classes at Austin Community College. He was still driving trucks locally, and said that at times he would show up to class in his trucking clothes and have to park his 18-wheeler at an empty warehouse. Afflerbach attended community college for a year and then decided to go back to Texas State University.
Afflerbach was a student of Texas State journalism professor Kym Fox. Afflerbach credits Fox with teaching him the correct way to write, and said that her guidance helped him improve as a journalist. Afflerbach eventually became an opinions columnist for the University Star and used the opportunity to develop his writing style.
At the age of 50, Afflerbach graduated from Texas State University in 2007 with dual degrees in journalism and English. While working for the Marble Falls newspaper, and then for the daily paper in Temple, Afflerbach used whatever spare time he could find to begin writing his novel.
Kassie Colgin, a mass communication sophomore gained insight from Afflerbach's discussion.
"I think that as a former trucker and blue-collar worker, most people didn't expect him to go back to college and graduate with a degree," said Colgin. "It showed that he was determined to go back to school and do whatever it takes to be able to truly do what he loves."
|Fred Afflerbach quoting a part in his novel.|
"Roll On" is a novel about a cross-country experience, and Afflerbach said he wrote it to tell the story of the truckers and their families. Many times, Afflerbach did not know if the novel would be published or if anybody would be interested in reading it.
Anna Strickland, a public relations major, said that she learned a lot about truckers that she did not know before.
"For Afflerbach to recognize the old timers and the old truckers, and that their story needs to be told is very interesting to me," said Strickland. "He believed that everyone should know about them."
A year after writing the book, Afflerbach received the letter he was waiting for. The Academy Chicago Publishers were interested in publishing his novel."Roll On: A Trucker's Life on the Road" was published at the end of April this year. Afflerbach attributes his inspiration to the "old-time" truckers, who he said were his heroes.
Afflerbach compared his love for writing by using a trucking analogy.
“It’s kind of like driving at night with your headlights on. You can see only so far down the road, but you can’t see all the way,” Afflerbach said. “Just keep the headlights on and keep driving. You’ll make it.”