Islander overcomes obstacles to continue writing books
For more than 40 years, Andy Horne spent his career writing legal briefs as a prosecutor and defense attorney. Now in retirement, the former assistant U.S. attorney turns his talents to writing books about men — men who are decent and men who aren’t.
In fact, he calls his books the “Decent Men Series,” set in Texas and the Gulf Coast and draws his characters from extrapolations and compilations from the people he has met during his legal and military career.
Horne, who turned 79 in May, always had the plots for his books rolling around in his head, but didn’t have the time to put them on paper until after his retirement, he said.
“I have always been an active and cogent dreamer,” said Horne while sitting in his 130-year-old Galveston home. “I dream in color and have great recall. For my first book, ‘Mixed Company,’ I knew the story from beginning to end because of my dreams, so it wasn’t difficult to write.”
In 2010, Horne and his wife, Sylvia, retired to Galveston Island and he immediately began writing the first draft of “Mixed Company,” the story of Dolph Cavanaugh, a Texan, entrepreneur and married man with a dark side.
Horne’s experience in both prosecuting and later as a defense lawyer in fraud and banking crimes gave him the knowledge to build stories from both sides, he said.
“I had read and written competing fiction throughout my legal career, so why not start writing honestly?” he said.
But building characters, narrative and dialogue was a bit more challenging, so he took a class in creative writing at Rice University and was smitten, he said.
Horne enjoys the process of writing novels, although he initially attempted to write poetry, he said. He turned to fiction and devised a twisted plot with memorable characters. With his first book behind him, he set out to write a follow-up, “In the Company of Decent Men.” But personal tragedy struck Horne while he worked on that book. A severe stroke in July 2015 left his left arm and hand virtually useless, although his voice and mental cognition were not impaired. Horne is left-hand dominant and it posed additional problems with writing and other activities that required using his hands.
He was no longer able to type normally and had to edit and rewrite parts of his book using voice recognition software, which was difficult to maneuver but necessary if he wanted to finish his work, he said.
“At first, I used one finger to rearrange and retype,” he said. “I had to cut 12,000 words from the manuscript. Using voice recognition software helped, but requires a real mental focus to say and do it right the first time.”
Horne has now mastered the software, he said.
“The stroke has been challenging, but a blessing as well,” he said. “I have been able to conquer my writing demands with new technology that was not previously available. Being able to communicate is so important.
“I joke about it and I wish it had not happened, but grace came to me because of what was not affected terribly. Everything takes extra time for me to do now, but I can still do for myself.”
He concedes he’s not a patient patient.
“Men think things will go faster than they do, but I have learned to deal with my routines and take my time,” he said. “And keep writing.”