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Surprise, Texas: The New Page-turning Novel From Folksinger Andy Wilkinson

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At first, Wilkinson conceived of  “Surprise, Texas” as a screenplay for a film. However, he had already written one screenplay and was reluctant to write another. “That’s a treacherous business. In fact, Max Evans one time said to me, you know, when a movie gets made, it’s just a pure miracle. So I thought well, I’ll just write a novel. I had never written a novel—why not?” Wilkinson laughed.

Surprise, Texas: The New Page-turning Novel From Folksinger Andy Wilkinson
Photo: Friends and family read passages from Wilkinson’s novel at a special event, image by Justin Burrus

The novel rose out of a real experience. Wilkinson and musician friend Andy Hedges were set to play the Gene Autry Film and Music Festival in Gene Autry, Oklahoma. “One of the first thing you do when you’re going to a festival is that you get your packet, which has your nametag, schedule, paycheck, meal tickets, and hotel assignment. As we were walking toward this building where the festival was being held, there was this sort of crudely lettered sign, shaped like a hand, that said ‘Look-a-likes This-a-way.’” Wilkinson and Hedges had no idea what the sign meant, but they knew it wasn’t for them. They headed the opposite direction. “We walked into the building, and there’s this woman sitting at a table with a box of packets. So I walk up and say, I’m Andy Wilkinson, here to get my packet. And she says, Who are you supposed to be? And I said, I’m Andy Wilkinson. She said, You’re supposed to be Andy Wilkinson? I said, No, I am Andy Wilkinson—I’m a performer. She said, Oh, performers are over at that table. So I’m thinking this is the weirdest thing that’s happened to me in a long time. Then I walk over to the other table and it all gets cleared up—because around the corner comes a guy dressed up like John Wayne and a guy dressed up like Tonto and a guy dressed up like Gabby Hayes.”