By Delaney Runge
Local author Richard LaMotte released his third book, “Follow His Lead,” on Oct. 26 which was celebrated in a Book Launch at the Kent Cultural Alliance on Nov. 4. According to LaMotte’s website, the novel has won two awards: the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and the Firebird Book Award.
“Follow His Lead” is LaMotte’s third book, but his first fiction publication. It is a departure from his two previous nonfiction books about sea glass, “Pure Sea Glass” and “The Lure of Sea Glass.”
The novel follows Chuck Anderson and his story as he enters the Vietnam War as a dog handler.
According to the Kent County, Maryland events page, this book is summarized as, “Scout dogs saved thousands of lives in Vietnam. The bond between one dog and his handler is unforgettable. This inspirational story unites humor and drama for an unexpected, exciting ride.”
The book launch consisted of two parts: a reading of one of the book chapters and a reception following the performance.
Director of the Kent Cultural Alliance John Schratwieser commenced the event by welcoming those in attendance. He served as the narrator for the reading.
According to Schratweiser, the Kent Cultural Alliance held various literary events involving poetry and book signings, but this one took on a new format.
LaMotte and his wife, Stephanie, who serves as on the Board of Directors as treasurer for the Kent Cultural Alliance, “were looking for opportunities to do what I think is something very different and very exciting and that is to do a dramatic reading of a chapter of the book with actors,” Schratwieser said.
Rather than just having LaMotte read from his novel, they recruited actors to perform the lines and act out the chapter for the audience.
“I think that they understood that this book is a story that has, perhaps, another life beyond a book,” Schratweiser said. “As I read the book the first time, and I read it a couple of months ago now, I absolutely saw this as a stage show.”
Local actors performed each of the roles allowing the story to come to life before the audience.
Following the staged reading, LaMotte discussed the story and his writing process for the project. During this time, he emphasized the connection to Maryland that the book takes on.
“It also has a deep connection to this area, especially in Baltimore, because Chuck is from Baltimore,” LaMotte said. “He’s a big Baltimore Orioles fan. And what you’ll find out is a special gift from Brooks Robinson comes to him. And that plays a role in this book.”
One audience member inquired about his transition from writing nonfiction on sea glass to a story about war dogs.
“I felt like I wrote enough about that subject where I wanted to move on to something else,” LaMotte said. “It seemed like this story kept trying to jam itself into my head.”
This idea which is now immortalized in the novel, “Follow His Lead” took LaMotte around six to eight years to research and another two to write. Writing is a secondary career for him as he works in sales and marketing at the LaMotte Company in Chestertown, Md.
LaMotte is a longtime resident of Chestertown, so many family members, friends, and community members came out to the book launch Saturday evening.
“I think [this book launch] shows the role that the arts and culture, arts and humanities can play in bringing people together across communities,” Schratweiser said.
Photo Caption: Twigs and Teacups also hosted a book signing for LaMotte on Friday, Nov. 3.
Photo by Delaney Runge