Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Writers Wednesday Welcomes Arline Chandler

Welcome to Writers Wednesday. Each week we’re joined by authors, both published and on the journey to publication. Today I’m happy to welcome Arline Chandler who's recognized for, among other things, her non-fiction books and articles on the Branson area and on RV-ing.

Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to be here today. Your newest book, THE HEART OF BRANSON: THE ENTERTAINING FAMILIES OF AMERICA’S LIVE MUSIC SHOW CAPITAL, is set in Branson, Mo. You’ve done quite a bit of writing about people, traditions and locations in the Ozarks--Southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas in particular. Please tell us a little about this work and what draws you to the area.

THE HEART OF BRANSON is a history of the entertainment scene in this small Ozarks town—a town that almost every person in America recognizes as synonymous with family-oriented, high quality entertainment. My book was at least 25 years in the making as I interviewed performers and wrote their stories in various magazines. I discovered the underlying theme of families entertaining families.

In my research, I began with the story of Marvel Cave, which early on was named Marble Cave. The story of two men, William Lynch and Hugo Herschend, who shared a common dream of opening a tour cave, intrigued me. Neither man ever knew the other. Their families carried their dreams forward with the Herschends building Silver Dollar City atop the cave entrance.

Also in research, I discovered S. Fred Prince, who arrived shortly after Mr. Lynch purchased the cave property. A self-taught naturalist, Lynch hired Prince to survey the cave. He spent most of ten years living inside the cave, measuring and examining every room and crevice and documenting his findings in a hand-illustrated manuscript which was never published.

The story of the cave links to Harold Bell Wright and his novel, THE SHEPHERD OF THE HILLS, and later the development of the Shepherd of the Hills Homestead and Outdoor Drama.

In retrospect, I see God’s hand on this area of the Ozarks—and the different people who arrived at the appropriate time to lend of their talents in creating and building what we see in the entertainment scene today.

My book follows the Baldknobbers, the Presleys, and those who arrived during the Branson Boom in the 1990s. I included the new families in town: Jim and Annie Stafford, the Haygoods, SIX, the Hughes Brothers, the Bretts, and the Duttons—all continuing to contribute to the wholesome entertainment scene. I mention stars like Roy Clark, Andy Williams, Box Car Willie, Yakov, the Lennons, the Osmonds, and numerous others who have contributed—and continue to contribute to the magic of Branson.

There are many more names, perhaps not so well known when they came to Branson, but who have carved their niche in this entertainment town: Shoji Tabuchi, Todd Oliver, Kirby Van Burch, Clay Cooper, Jim Barber. Those who brought their families along and joined the community. The book ends with a chapter about the new Sight & Sound Theatre and the inspiration of one man and his family for its Biblically-based dramas.

I am drawn to history and to the stories of other people’s lives. Branson is overflowing with interesting stories of talent, courage, challenges, faith in God, and a love or our country.

Fantastic, Arline. I’ve read many of your articles and I know the feeling you instill in your work. What’s your next project?

I have ongoing projects such as a weekly blog at www.rvlife.com/1256-arline, as well as commitments to magazines such as RV LIFE AND WORKAMPER NEWS. On my personal blog, www.arlinechandler.blogspot.com, I maintain pages titled “All Things Branson,” “The Ozarks Traveler,” and “My Canine Friends.” Excerpts and reviews of my books, as well as ordering information, are also on my blog. My interest also lies in children’s fiction and nonfiction. I have two picture books and a young adult novel in progress.

You have such a variety of writing experience. What one tip would you offer other writers?

To become a writer, one has to write daily and read with a writer’s eye. I recommend honing the craft of writing with classes, conferences, and good books about the techniques of writing.

Great advice, Arline. Thanks, again, for being here. You can find Arline at the following places:
The Heart of Branson available at T. Charleston Bookstore, Branson, MO and amazon.com
She’ll also speak at:
Workamper Rendezvous
October 18-20, 2011
Heber Springs Community Center
Heber Springs, AR
For information: http://www.workamper.com/


  1. Welcome Arline,
    I'm so glad you're here. Your new book sounds like the ultimate word on the Branson evolution. Good luck with it!

  2. Hi, Arline.

    Your book about Branson's evolution sounds wonderful. I'm always fascinated by people and places and how they ended up where they did.

    All the best!

  3. Great interview Arline. (and Barbara) I don't think there is a richer history anywhere in the country than the Ozarks, and Branson most recently. I think we all have a curiosity about other's lives, and especially those we feel like we know in the entertainment world. Many blessings.

    Diana Locke

  4. Great interview! sorry I was late...