Some may be familiar with Arthur Wooten’s novels, On Picking Fruit and Fruit Cocktail; others, with his insightful short stories. His most recently released book, Birthday Pie, takes readers on a completely different storyline, showing, yet again, Wooten’s remarkable ability of taking the art of storytelling to a level of fine art. The result is what some may refer to as Arthur Wooten’s writing universe defined by his fine art of storytelling. It is the reason why many readers have become Arthur Wooten fans in the first place.
What many readers and fans may not know about Arthur Wooten is that he writers “frighteningly fast.” He calls this gift “a blessing and a curse.” The author also writes the truth and advises emerging writers to “write honestly, from the heart.” He adds that “for every writer, for every character they write, the reality of the truth will be different.”
Reality, as it comes through in Birthday Pie story and its characters, touches readers on several levels. Told with wit and humor, the finds a special place within readers, because it reflects facets of our own family stories. For this reason, the story of Birthday Pie becomes a vehicle through which readers can reach out and connect (or reconnect) with their own families.
The story of Birthday Pie begins long before On Picking Fruit and Fruit Cocktail. “I first wrote it as a play back in 1991,” Wooten explains. It was optioned as a play, a TV series and a feature film. The play won a top spot at the Key West Theatre Festival and premiered at the Waterfront Playhouse. “There was a backers audition in New York City, and then it was optioned again as a film,” Wooten recalls. “During the ‘waiting’ period I penned the novel version. […] I wanted to keep the time back in 1990. It was a very frightening time in many people’s lives, including my own.”
In many ways Arthur Wooten considers Birthday Pie a love-letter to his family. “My dad passed away in 1990 due to cancer,” the author explains. “Although I grew up in Andover, MA, [my dad] was from the Deep South, so I grew up with many of those flavors and sensibilities. In a way, [writing] Birthday Pie was therapy for me, an extremely cathartic experience, a very healing project to write. And it still is.”
Birthday Pie also deals with timeless, also timely matters. This brings up the topic of love (timeless) and equal marriage rights (timely). “It’s thrilling to see how far we’ve come,” Wooten comments, “frightening to see the fear, ignorance and cruelty that this [equal marriage rights] issue brings up for others.” He adds that it’s well-known that individuals with such strong, sometimes even violent reactions to gay/same-sex love may be repressing some feelings within themselves. Wooten touches in upon repressed feelings in Birthday Pie, and does it with humor and finesse.
What attracts readers to Arthur Wooten’s novels is their power of capturing a slice of reality, a reality through which readers recognize pieces of their lives—maybe themselves or people they know. “I don’t write happy, perfect endings,” Wooten comments. “Life isn’t like that. So many stories lend themselves to… what happens next? I have an outline for the sequel to Birthday Pie. But there’s now talk, again, about a movie and a TV series.”
What’s next for Arthur Wooten? He has three more screenplays that “are completed and need to be thrown out into the universe,” he says. “Anyone want to play with me?”
Alina Oswald is a writer and photographer based in New York City area. Her latest books include Journeys Through Darkness and Vampire Fantasies. Contact her at alinaoswald.blogspot.com.