It took more than a decade for Jim Dossett to finish his first novel, “Finding Bobby Ray.”
“As time went on I got some other ideas and the story’s completely different than I started out to be. I did most of the writing from May through December of last year. The premise of the book, it’s about family being everything whether you’re blood kin or not,” Dossett said.
While the book is not entirely biographical, his time in Campbell County influenced the novel.
“It touches on experiences that I’ve personally had. It touches on the people of Campbell County…I’ve met some wonderful people here,” he said.
Dossett moved to Campbell County from Springboro, Ohio, 15 years ago. His adoptive family lives in the area, and he sought to be closer to them. He and his wife, Brenda, settled in LaFollette.
“I was at a point where I wanted to find out more about my ancestry,” he said.
Dossett always knew he was adopted, but he was well into adulthood when he found out who his biological parents were.
“It was quite astonishing to find out where I came from, that my name was Bobby Ray,” he said.
And thus, the novel had a title and inspiration from his own story.
“It touches on the people of Campbell County, who I’ve met some wonderful people here. Somebody told me once there’s nothing wrong with being poor, it’s being sorry that’s bad, but these people in this book who are the fabric for the background are sweet and good and poor and admirable,” he said.
Dossett wasn’t the only local involved with the book. Sam Chapman, president of the Campbell County Artist Association, was commissioned to design and paint the cover.
“He nailed it,” Dossett said. “A cover sells a book. The book was my baby. I was really, really concerned about what we’re gonna put on this child to do it justice.”
An illness last year prompted Dossett to finally finish the book, and the writing was complete in December.
“I have a clean bill of health, but it made me think a little bit,” Dossett said.
Dossett ultimately chose Outskirts Press to print the book. The independent publisher prints on demand and fulfills orders through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. He hopes to have the novel in bookstores soon.
His previous careers helped him with novel writing, he said. Dossett has worked in news, marketing, and advertising.
“I would think my best training for this was working for the LaFollette Press,” he said. “It’s a Spartan kind of lifestyle. You’re expected to be right and you’re expected to be quick and I learned how to glean information quickly and most importantly, accurately.”
Dossett, now a retiree, is also at work on another novel, “Starving Dog and the Guardian.”
“It’s about a man whose life is going down the toilet and he’s helped out by angels. I’ve only got four chapters written and I still have a lot of tweaking to do to them,” he said.