Sentinel Interview with William & Patrick

Thirty years ago, Bill Pardue wrote a book and sent it out to agents and publishers. The response? It was variations on the same theme. To quote Bill, “It’s a really great story, but you really don’t know how to write.”

So, he adopted a risky and probably inadvisable strategy for frustrated writers. He figured he would never become a fine writer. So he just went out and fathered one.

Today, that book is finally published, under a double byline: William J. Pardue and Patrick J. Pardue. The latter, who goes by “Joe,” is Bill’s son, a 26-year-old aspiring screenwriter who has a creative-writing degree from San Jose State.

“One day, I just gave it to him,” said Bill, a family-law attorney who lives near Scotts Valley. “Told him, ‘I can’t do anything with this.’ So, he basically rewrote it.”

“It’s a really good story,” added Joe. “It just needed to be shaped. The pacing and flow needed some work to make it a lot more readable.”

The book is “Wolf Creek,” (Balboa Press) and it’s a novel closely based on an experience that changed Bill Pardue’s life as a young man. In 1971, Bill was 21 years old, a recent college grad, who took a job in rural east Texas that sounded too good to be true.

“It involved a lot of camping, canoeing, climbing mountains. I remember I said in the interview, ‘What are you paying us for?’”

It turns out Bill was to be a counselor in a program that brought emotionally disturbed and violent teens from the south side of Chicago into the wilds of east Texas. “There was no running water, no campsites, just a dirt rood and the woods.”

There was also no police, no authorities, no parents, no rules except for the ones you could physically enforce. Bill likened it to “The Lord of the Flies.”

“It was savage,” he said. “If you were not the alpha male, you had to have an alpha male protecting you.”

The teens set fire to one counselor. Bill was threatened with an ax. Yet, he stayed on for an entire year, fighting when had to, protecting the weak when appropriate.

But “Wolf Creek” isn’t just a story about surviving a harrowing experience. Bill grew to love the boys.

“They did return that love,” he said. “We would get a week off occasionally, and I remember when I came back from being away, they were all there at the trailhead waiting for me. We were family.”

This article was originally published with the Santa Cruz Sentinel. You can view the original here.

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