Novelist to speak to students, book club

Published 8:04 pm Tuesday, January 23, 2018

By Adam Dodson | The Selma Times-Journal

A Mississippi author famous for his fictional crime novels will visit Selma to speak to members of the Selma Book Club and students at John T. Morgan Academy.

Merle Temple is scheduled to speak to grades 7-9 and grades 10-12 on Thursday, Jan. 25. He will speak to members of the book club the following day at dinner.

He is the author of four books that are part of his fictional series: “Deputy: Once Upon a Time in Mississippi, A Ghostly Shade of Pale,” “A Rented World” and “The Redeemed: A Leap of Faith.” The second book in the collection, “Ghostly,” is the best-selling novel in Barnes and Noble history for northern Mississippi.

His books tell a fictional story of his true adventures from being a Mississippi deputy sheriff, a drug agent in the state task force and first captain of the Mississippi Narcotics Bureau. The protagonist of the series, Michael Parker, is based off Temple.

Temple speaks to schools, churches, homeless shelters and prisons across the nation. His book has been picked up as required reading for an English course at Itawamba Community College, which he attended. They are also used in English courses for high schools and middle schools across the Southeast.

He has offered to donate multiple copies of books to teachers.

Temple says the books are popular for teachers because of the lack of profanity, believing it “gets in the way of good writing.” A devout Christian man, he wanted to use his books to reach his favorite audiences: the youth and those in need.

“Speaking in Selma gives me another opportunity to speak in front of kids,” Temple said. “I am always willing to give that a thought. Along with the prisons and the shelters, there is no better audience. We are all in need of a savior.”

Along with discussing the novels and his faith, Temple will talk about his career in drug enforcement.

During his tenure, he has been held hostage by drug dealers, the target of contract killers, caught in a cross fire with gang members and witnessed the impact the drug trade has on society. Temple calls this the “counter-culture” of his own practiced faith.

Despite the lifestyle around him, Temple says he never lost sight of who he was or who he serves.

“It was actually easier for me to keep faith during those days,” Temple said. “Faith is born out of your experience in tough times.”

After his time in law enforcement, Temple was also involved with political campaigns for local elections, saying he preferred to support “underdog” candidates who were fighting for meaningful reform.

Other stories and experiences Temple plans to share with students and book club members include his dinner with Morgan Freeman, the delivery of his novels to the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem, his campaign experience with Ronald Reagan and his time in the FBI with J. Edgar Hoover.

Temple is currently in the process of writing an additional book, which has no set release date. There is also a possibility of his novels being turned into a television series produced by X-G Productions. The television show would base its central theme off his favorite motto throughout the book: truth is stranger than fiction.