Graham Watkins' professional and personal page


Professional

As you probably well know by now, I am a novelist and screenwriter by profession. In the past, I have been published by Berkley Books and by Carroll and Graf, two of the major New York publishing houses. At the moment I am publishing my works as e-books at Amazon.com, under the imprint of Coatl Books.

I am self-agented. How long this will last I cannot now say, but if you need to contact me on professional matters, you can use my E-mail, coatl@mindspring.com. Be sure you specify your interest clearly in the header, since that e-mail has been on the web for more than twenty years and thus gets a lot of spam.


Personal

[Organ pipes, close up]

Writing is not, at the moment, the only work I do. I also work as an engineer/technician on a variety of electronic and pipe organs and electronic keyboards. The modern pipe organ consists of wind-blown pipes just as it did in the Sixteenth Century, but now the air pressure Organ pipes, full view] is provided by an electric blower instead of choir boys working bellows, and the valves that open and close the airflow to the individual pipes are electrically activated solenoids controlled, like everything else today, by a microprocessor. The organ illustrated, one of our larger installations, is in the First Christian Church in Burlington, NC, and is such an instrument. It consists of both true pipes-- nineteen ranks--and auxiliary electronically-operated speakers. It was made by the Rodgers Organ Company of Hillsboro, Oregon, and was assembled and voiced on-site. The console that operates all this is a Rodgers three-manual model 955; the pipes were all hand-made in Europe.

Click on the pipes to hear the organ; J.S. Bach, Toccata and Fugue in F Major, ending, performance by Richard Apperson, organist (This 600K .WAV file is designed to be compatible with as many browsers as possible. It may take a few seconds to download; just check out the rest of the page while you're waiting.)

Music has always been part of my life; during my late High School and college years I earned a living as a professional tenor saxophone player, working mostly in the Lexington, Kentucky, area, and was at the same time a bassist for the Central Kentucky Philharmonic Orchestra.


My Family

[Peggy and Kevin]

We live in Durham, North Carolina. My wife, Peggy Arias, is a Project Leader at The Duke Clinical Research Institute, a part of Duke Hospital, (which is the setting for Virus) and is the primary editor on all my works of fiction; she in a native of Augsburg, Germany, and grew up in New York City and in Hawaii.

My son, Kevin Arias-Watkins, is now twenty-eight, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Western Carolina University in Culowhee, NC, and works for The Red Prairie Company in Cary, NC. The picture of him at left is just a little out-of-date.

But I've kept it for the sentimental value.


Favorite Places

[The Great Smoky Mountains]

One of our favorite spots is the town of Cherokee and the surrounding area, located on the Qualla Indian Reservation in western North Carolina, which borders the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Although Cherokee is known as a tourist center--and is becoming more so since the legalization of gambling and the opening of Las Vegas-style casinos there--there is still quite a lot of remote country left up here. This view is from near the top of Soco Gap, just after entering the Reservation from the east, looking westward toward Tennessee.

Although most of the Cherokee were removed to Oklahoma by order of Andrew Jackson--against their will--and suffered the terrible hardships of the infamous "Trail of Tears," a few remained. Thanks to the leadership and self-sacrifice of a man named T'sali, they managed to retain at least this small piece of their ancestral homeland. This story is told nightly during the summer in Cherokee in the outdoor drama "Unto These Hills;" I could not recommend it more highly.

[Kure Beach]

Our other favorite getaway is the coastline of North Carolina; Currituck Beach and Nag's Head on the Outer Backs (the setting for Kaleidoscope Eyes), the Atlantic Beach--Morehead City area, and the Cape Fear area-- Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Fort Fisher (the setting for Green-Eyed Lady). Fort Fisher and Currituck Beach are still--though only for the moment if the persistent developers have their way--open and natural areas; wild horses roam Currituck, sea turtles and pelicans nest on Fort Fisher.

Near Fort Fisher is the monument to the Civil War fort that stood here, the Confederacy's defense against Union landings and attacks on the important port at Wilmington. Fort Fisher eventually fell to Union troops in a terrible battle late in the War; there is a museum here that tells the story. While in this area, I usually stay at the Kure Keys Motel, which I recommend highly.

[Hurricane Diana]

We do have to deal with the occasional hurricane that sweeps in from the Atlantic in the summer and fall, but it's always amazed me to visit the beach areas following one. In the towns they pass through there's wreckage--in the 1950's the famous Hurricane Hazel virtually destroyed the towns along the Southern Coast, Carolina Beach and Kure Beach-- but the beach and the dunes are merely moved about and reshaped slightly, they never really change much.

(left) Hurricane Diana bears down on Wilmington, NC

In September of 1996, Hurricane Fran took the place of Hurricane Hazel in the memories of those of us who live in North Carolina. Here in Durham we had very considerable damage from Fran, many of us were without power for days, hundreds of huge trees were downed--many of them crushing houses--and flooding was a problem in many areas. The beach towns were severely damaged. Pictures of some of the damage can be seen on my Hurricane Fran page.

 


Snakes

have long been some of my favorite pets, or shall we say, household companions. At times in the past I've run what almost amounts to a shelter for homeless snakes, I've kept dozens. Then, my house was home to a wide variety of local snakes both venomous and non-venomous, to pythons, boas, and even cobras. At the current time most of those dozens, like the two shown here, have succumbed to natural old age; I've had quite a few that were with me a good twenty years. The African ball python mentioned previously in these pages has succumbed to old age as well, but his place has been taken by a very docile Burmese Python (Python molurus bivittatus) named Georgia and a number of assorted Milksnakes (Lampropeltis triangulum ssp., which have been bred several times.).
[Diamondback Rattlesnake] [Corn Snake]
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
Corn Snake
Crotalus atrox Elaphe guttata

More snake pictures and information is available at the following dealer sites:


Seashells

For a long time I've taken pleasure in that classic Nineteeth Century practice of collecting seashells; over the years I've accumulated, by buying, trading, and actual ocean collecting, quite a collection. Illustrated below are some of the rarer and more exceptional specimens from that collection.

The Green tree snail, P. pulcherrima, is now an endangered species. They occur only on Manus Island north of New Guinea and, as they are very easily collected, were hunted to near-extinction. The specimen shown was acquired from the estate sale of a Nineteenth Century collection.

[Glory-of-Bengal Cone] [Golden Cowrie] [Spotted Cowrie] [Green Tree Snail]
Conus bengalensis Cypraea aurantium Cypraea guttata Papustyla pulcherrima
[Hebrew Volute] [Rossin's Volute] [Festive Volute] [Many-ribbed Harp]
Voluta ebraea Cymbiola rossiniana Festilyria festiva Harpa costata

At one time, the Golden Cowrie (C. aurantium), which occurs in the waters near Fiji, was used in the king's crown and was considered specifically the property of the king; attempting to smuggle one out of the country could result in the death penalty.


all photographs copyright Graham Watkins

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