Creative and entertaining fiction starts with an author’s “What if?” and then launches into uncharted waters. That free-thinking style shines in A.J. Dugger III’s collection of short stories, “Southern Terror,” which hit shelves in January. He describes the work as silly stories in a horror situation.
The horror anthology’s back cover asks, “What if you were a porn star receiving texts and emails from your dead husband? What if you were a female boxer with the punching power of three men? What if you were a magician with a pet werewolf as your big attraction? These are some of the people you will meet in ‘Southern Terror.’”
What indeed. The topics in this adult book range from sexual dialog to the kind of details that make the reader grin or get chilly goosebumps. What’s making that giggling noise in a couple’s home at night? Did you really just read that breast implants gave that female boxer her punching powers? Why is a politician dying and being resurrected over and over again?
The Bartlett resident and Memphis native said, “It’s silly, but everybody that’s read it has loved it.”
He wrote “Southern Terror” on and off for two years, inspired by “Tales from the Crypt” and “The Twilight Zone,” among other influences. He self-published through createspace.com with two of the illustrations being provided by his fiancée, Deshae Johnson-Dugger. The book is now available in Kindle format and paperback on Amazon.com and on his website, ajdugger.com.
The writing was an adventure for him. “I like a good story that keeps you intrigued. You wonder where it’s going to go next.”
He continued, “It’s the kind of book I would like to read.”
Among his favorite authors are biographer Christopher Andersen, boxing historian Bert Sugar and, of course, R.L. Stine, a childhood favorite known for his “Goosebumps” series.
Dugger is also the author of “The Dealers: Then and Now,” a July 2013 biography about the Memphis-based music group that included his mother, two uncles and other musicians who were like uncles to him. Dugger grew up touring with them as they played with Marvin Gaye and opened for the Supremes, Kool & the Gang, the Eagles and other music icons.
He likes that his two books are so different. He described his first as a “clean” book, although his parents were mad at him for some of the details he included about his uncles. (He had permission but they were surprised at the personal details he chose to include.)
“Which tells you it’s a good book if they’re mad at you, talking about their shenanigans on the road and that kind of thing,” he said, smiling.
That one took him about a year, and he approached it like a journalism assignment, interviewing the people involved.
Today, he works as a teacher’s assistant at the Bartlett campus of Youth Villages but says that writing is his first love. He is also a freelance journalist, including writing for The Bartlett Express.
Dugger is a 2009 graduate of Austin Peay State University. He began a successful journalism career by writing for publications such as The Tennessee Tribune, Business Arts and Heritage Clarksville Magazine, The Murfreesboro Post, The Tri-State Defender, The Leaf-Chronicle, The Clarksville Sports Network, Clarksville Online, Black Clarksville, and numerous other publications. He has covered journalistic beats for crime, sports, health, education, government, politics, features and breaking news.
He has interviewed and written about several celebrities, including actress Keshia Knight Pulliam, former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes, evangelist “Vanity” Denise Matthews, actor Lou Myers, NFL legends Joe Theismann and David Thornton, two-times heavyweight champion Shannon “The Cannon” Briggs, singer/actor Terron Brooks, Gospel legend Dr. Bobby Jones, New York Times bestselling author Tariq “Elite” Nasheed, power lifter Eddie Swanson (hailed as the strongest man In Tennessee) and many others. America’s former First Lady Michelle Obama read one of Dugger’s headlining articles.
To view Dugger’s celebrity interviews, front-page articles, awards, résumé and other achievements, visit ajdugger.com. Find him on Twitter as @duggerman and his Facebook page at facebook.com/newsfromajdugger. Interested readers can also see his author’s page on Amazon.