Writing comes naturally to Wynn Melton, 87, St. Clair.
His book, “Father Bill,” published earlier this year and available on Amazon.com, is about a priest and his work at a Catholic parish in the countryside of St. Francis, Mo.
“Getting to know the people in the county, Father Bill goes the extra mile for each of them in some way. Tough, yes, but Father Bill is the epitome of a Catholic priest,” the book’s summary states.
The fictitious story developed when Melton joined a writing class in Crestwood. He said aspiring writers in the class read and wrote poetry, fiction and more.
“You would write something for about three to five minutes, and you would read it to the group and constructive criticism would come back from them,” he explained.
Melton said his book was not planned.
“You start out writing about personal things, and I didn’t have anything left after a while,” he said.
For inspiration, Melton said he remembered an experience that a priest once told him about.
“I took his story, and I just elaborated on it, and I wrote what turned out to be Chapter One,” he said.
“Finally, after about 27 chapters, I got tired of writing about Father Bill.”
Melton’s cousin suggested he publish the story with a company she had used before.
Melton sent the first chapter, a middle chapter and the last chapter to the publishing company. One of the publishers liked it, but he said she wanted the ending changed.
“I said, ‘I’m not interested in rewriting it,’ ” he said.
After three weeks, the publisher called back and requested the whole manuscript. Another month went by and Melton received a contract.
The book has received three 5-star ratings on Amazon.
“It’s been successful,” Melton said.
He encourages others to write stories that are meaningful to them.
“Writing is a form of storytelling,” Melton said. “Everybody can write, everybody’s got a story to tell.
“You don’t have to worry about so much about punctuation and sentence construction — the editors do this.”
He noted that his book does not have sex scenes and it does not have foul language.
“You can still sell something (that is) missing those two things that’s most popular today,” Melton said.
He added that he does not think there will be a sequel to “Father Bill.” He would like to focus his other interests, Melton said.
In addition to his book, he has had short stories and essays published in other publications. In 2014, he won second place in the OASIS magazine short story contest for best fiction.
Melton was born in July 1931 in Maynard, Ark. His family moved to Missouri because of the Great Depression.
Melton graduated from Ferguson High School in 1949. He attended Central Missouri State University for three years, double majoring in business administration and dramatics.
“After three years, I didn’t know really what I wanted to do, so I volunteered for the draft to take me into the Army,” Melton said.
He served in the Army from 1953-1955 and was stationed at Camp Roberts in California and Fort Lewis in Washington state.
After the Army, Melton said he worked for a few businesses including Comet Tool and Die Company as an office manager for purchasing; Moloney Electric Company as a materials manager;
Universal Metals Product Co. as an operations manager; Foster Brothers as an operations manager; and at Absorbent Cotton Company as a purchasing manager.
He was married to his wife, Marjorie Ann, for 59 years before she died in September 2015. They had three children together, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild who will be born in October.
He retired in 1989, and he and his family lived in Lonedell until they moved to the St. Clair area 12 years ago.
He worked part-time jobs after retirement including at Kinko’s, Famous-Barr and Manpower, in addition to being a winetasting consultant, an insurance sales representative and real estate sales representative.
He also worked at St. John’s Mercy Hospital in Washington until 1999 and volunteered at the hospice center.
Melton belongs to the Knights of Columbus, the Korean chapter of the American Legion, and attends St. Clare Catholic Church.
He enjoys spending time with friends, family, and likes to garden, dance and travel.