In our newest interview, CWG Online Editor John Wright is pleased to welcome the one and only “Ghost of Mark Twain,” CWG Contributor McAvoy Lane!
McAvoy Layne has been preeminent in preserving the wit & wisdom of “The Wild Humorist of the Pacific Slope,” Mark Twain. McAvoy is the ghost of Samuel Clemens in A&E’s biography of Mark Twain, and in the Discovery Channel’s Cronkite Award winning documentary, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He is a winner of the Nevada award for excellence in school and library service, and author of a soon to be published audiobook, One Life is Not Enough.
For the enjoyment of our readers, I would like to take you back to the beginning – to the time when you first contemplated becoming Mark Twain.
There was a dartboard on the wall. I found some darts and started throwing. I threw for two days, then my elbow gave out, and I sat down on the couch. On the coffee table was a book, The Complete Essays of Mark Twain. I picked it up and started reading. I had cabin fever by then and my brain was soft. My brain was sloshing around like so much drawn butter, and in that condition, those essays made perfect sense, and that seed was planted in fertile ground. It was as though I had a tap on the shoulder, a calling into the cloth if you will. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I would spend the rest of my life spreading the gospel, the gospel of Twain, though not reverently pious, fervently American. That ski trip to Tahoe would not only provide me a more interesting life, it would give me another life.
I hope to encourage young people and retired people to find someone they admire who has been dead a hundred years, and bring that person to life. (I’ll attach a photo of my favorite Chautauqua character.)
On the way there I ran out of gasoline at the top of Spooner. So I stood on the side of the road in my white suit with my cigar, and sure enough, the first vehicle to come along pulled over and picked me up. It was an old chicken truck and driving that chicken truck was the oldest man I ever saw behind a wheel. He was an Hispanic gentleman, perhaps 90 years old, and chicken feathers were flying everywhere. I thanked him for stopping, and he greeted me with, “You…look like maybe somebody I should know.”
“Muy Viejo,” I said humbly, “Mark Twain.” And I stuck out my hand.
He looked me over with a discerning eye, scratched the stubble on his chin, extended his hand and said, “Me … Ponce de Leon.”
So there we were, driving into Carson together, Ponce de Leon and Mark Twain. He took me straight to the Ormsby House, where I climbed into the ring with chicken feathers clinging to the white suit, but I was on time, thanks to Ponce de Leon.
So now I’ve got a question for you? How does your poetry help you see the world as you do?
Having done so, you are right to think that they are the reflection of a process of self discovery, and a quest for the deeper meanings that have thereby threaded their way through my work to animate my world view.
Mac, as always it has been a real pleasure to talk with you and to introduce the “Ghost of Mark Twain” to our readers across the country and in other countries around the world.
I hope that you have enjoyed this interview as much as I have, and I hope further that our Children’s Writers Guild Online readers will become fans of the Ghost of Mark Twain!