'A Jerome Affair' weaves local history, landmarks

George Poteet strolls through family history writing novel

George Poteet

George Poteet

VERDE VALLEY - It's post World War II in 1948, and ex-Marine Jack Marrisan is stuck in a dead-end job in Phoenix working for his uncle. Desperate to free his life from its deepening rut, Marrisan quits his job and moves to Jerome into a vacant home owned by his parents. The once-booming mining town is suffering through economic death throes.

Jack soon discovers that the mines aren't the only entities in Jerome touched by death. Jack's high school sweetheart, Linda, only days ago became a widow, and shortly before that, her sister died in a violent car crash. Most people assume both deaths were tragic accidents.

But Jack and Linda aren't so certain. What they soon learn is that seeking the truth sometimes comes at a cost - sometimes a high cost.

Tempe author George Poteet has just self-published his second book and first novel - "A Jerome Affair." In a recent phone interview, Poteet told the Verde Independent that he selected Jerome and the Verde Valley as the setting for his historical suspense novel because his family roots go deep in this area.

His parents John and Lila were born and raised in Jerome, not leaving the area until the 1940s. John Poteet died in 2007, and George's mother Lila (Morrison) Slater lives in Sedona.

"My family has had a long love affair with Northern Arizona," Poteet said, "particularly the Verde Valley. My grandparents moved into the area in the 1920s and we continue to visit regularly."

In researching the setting for his book, Poteet made several trips to the area. "I walked the streets," he said. He would walk with a notebook and make notes. That's how he found the house that he used as Jack's parents' house, and the one for Linda's parents to live in.

A Jerome Affair is filled with Jerome and Verde Valley landmarks, many will be recognizable to anyone familiar with the area.

Poteet said he had been thinking about writing a novel for many years. This idea came together for two primary reasons. First, he said he is interested in the period following World War II, specifically the 1940s and 1950s. The second reason is his family's connection to the Verde Valley.

"It just kind of came to me," Poteet said about the story's plot. He said he started by developing his characters and the plot line came from them.

During the writing, Poteet used a writing technique called "automatic writing," a process in which the author listens to his characters.

"I'd wake up in the middle of the night and go to the word processor," he said. "It was like someone was narrating the story to me. It felt like it was Jack.

"There were times when I didn't feel like writing," Poteet said. "Jack would tell me to get up."

A Jerome Affair is actually Poteet's second book. The first was a personal memoir titled Our Ride, now an Amazon e-book about his 40-year relationship and 32-year marriage with his wife, who died from breast cancer in 2007.

He said his decision to self publish his novel was not by choice. "Every novelist would prefer an agent," he said. "I tried that. I couldn't get anyone excited about it."

So he paid to have a certain number of books printed. Now it is up to Poteet to market and promote the book by himself. To that end, he has placed the book in two books stores in Cottonwood, two in Prescott, two in Sedona and two in Flagstaff. He's also put the book into bookstores in Payson and Camp Verde.

He will do a book signing at Hooked on Books at 148 S. Main St. in Cottonwood at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 23.

His goal is to get the book on Amazon as an e-book, but first he wants the novel to have some time to gain readers and, hopefully, a following.

"I purposely priced this book to sell," he said. At $10 retail, Poteet doesn't plan to make any money with the book, but he hopes to build interest in it. Then when the book hits the Internet, it may well become profitable.

Poteet earned a master's in public administration and a bachelor's in journalism from Arizona State University. He began his career as a reporter for The Prescott Courier.

"I did courts, cops and sports," he said. "I did everything but sell ads."

After two years at the Courier, in 1976 and 1977, Poteet went to work for the now-defunct Phoenix Gazette. He soon moved into corporate communications in 1980 with Salt River Project.

He said he wouldn't have left SRP except that his wife was diagnosed with cancer in 2005. He left his job to spend as much time as possible with his wife.

"I started a little writing business called Write Plus," Poteet said.

It was through Write Plus that Poteet handled the publication of A Jerome Affair.

Poteet is now outlining a sequel to A Jerome Affair.

"Jack is making me do this," Poteet said. "He said 'there is more to this story.'"

For information, contact George Poteet at (480) 839-1844 or poteet@aol.com.

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