College Leadership Crisis: The Philip Dolly Affair
By Jann M. Contento & Jeffrey Ross (Rogue Phoenix Press, 2011)
Welcome to BK Walker Books Etc. I'm so happy you could join me today from the Big Steel in St. Johns, Arizona.
BK: Please tell us a little about yourself...
Jeff: I’m a retired non-unionist teacher living in Arizona. I enjoy primitive buildings, motorcycles, and staying under the radar. Jann: I am a journeyman in a number of musical projects and contribute to the betterment of the 21st century community college movement. I also enjoy ice cold beverages and warm pasta.
BK: Please tell us a little about your book....
Jeff: PDA is a satiric look at community college life. We have fun with romances, acronyms, pet ducks, buffoonery, windbag-ism, and campus eccentrics. Even so, we are trying to be instructive and offer ideas that could improve post secondary middle education.
BK: What inspired you to pen this particular novel?
Jeff: My own working experience—and a successful short story I had published back in 2008 on Insidehighered.com—“Call Me Phil.” We turned that basic 1800 word storyline into the novel. Jann: The daily mundane speak and inaction demonstrated by professed community college “leadership” inspired me to expose the whispered truths.
BK: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Jeff: [I would rather consider myself a poet]. I had a poem, about riding my Huffy bicycle, published on a poster [by my teacher] and displayed at the Hamilton County fair when I was in the second grade. I suppose that is the origin of my efforts. Jann: I consider myself a contributing editor and satiric comic.
BK: How do you keep your story flowing?
We believe the daily “buzz” at community colleges is a screenplay in itself. When we needed fresh ideas, we’d just Google in “community college” and read the news items.
BK: Do you ever run into writer's block, and if so, what do you do to get past it?
Jeff: Yes, I frequently stumble and stop when I am writing something. I generally put ideas aside and come back to them later. I have been very much influenced by the writing theorist Peter Elbow. Jann: Yes. When I do, I often take nature walks and enjoy a long smoke. Then the ideas flow again.
BK: What is your writing process like? Do you have any quirks, or must-haves to write?
Jeff: I enjoy writing at a computer—and I usually write best when I’m not trying. Jann: I write everything long hand on yellow legal pads while sipping on malty beverages.
BK: Where do you hope your books/writing will be in the future?
Jeff: If the Phil Dolly Affair is successful, we will write a sequel. I would also like to work on more poetry—voiced by Jack Frost, one of the book’s main characters. Jack is a tortured soul-- bad relationships have peppered and poisoned his life [but he apparently finds joy at PDA’s conclusion]. Apparently.
BK: What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
Jeff: We hope readers will learn more about community colleges—and appreciate our hard-edged (usually bleak) view of romantic relationships. We have several key ideas that would help reform American education, too—perhaps some of our readers will find our views refreshing. Certainly we are not interested in tabling discussions. We also hope our audience will recognize the literary nuances scattered throughout the text.
BK: What is one piece of advice you received that you carry with you in your writing?
Jeff: “Never Quit! Never Give Up!”
BK: What is one piece of advice you would give to new and aspiring writers?
Jeff: Don’t get all excited about celebrities, movies, and musicians. Be yourself. Be a doer—not a watcher. Most of pop culture is a distraction which will eventually exhaust your emotions and finances!
BK: Are you currently working on any new projects? What can we expect from you in the future?
Jeff: As stated above, we will work on a sequel if this novel is successful.
BK: Where can readers find you?
Our Phil Dolly Affair Facebook page is located at
Plus, wave started a new “Getting to Know Phil Dolly” blog at http://copperfieldcommunitycollege.blogspot.com/2011/09/getting-to-know-ccc-characters.html
Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today. It's been a pleasure having you and I wish you much success in the future.
We are giving away an electronic “chapbook”, a PDF file of Jack Frost poetry, called “Voices of Copperfield. Follow The Philip Dolly Affair Tour HERE.
Jann M. Contento has a broad range of experiences in higher education including student affairs administration, athletics, and institutional research. He is currently working in a community college setting and has co-authored several articles on leadership and college culture.
Jeffrey Ross, who resides in Gilbert, Arizona with his wife and son, is a writer, rockabilly musician, and former full-time community college teacher. He has had four "Views" pieces published on InsidehigherEd.com since 2007, has authored and co-authored several op-ed articles on community college identity, purpose, and culture, and has recently had several pieces published on the Cronk News higher education satire website.
While community colleges are currently receiving heightened attention, this novel provides a behind-the-scenes analysis of many whispered truths, those simmering but unspoken workplace behaviors, issues, and machinations every worker (Everyman!) will recognize. A humorous and biting read with a clever mix of satire, political intrigue, failed romances, and tragic-comedy, this novel will open your eyes to the truth about community colleges …
JB O Connor, Student
JB had just left the Student Success Center [housed in the Teaching Learn-ed Center] at Copperfield Main.
He had taken a battery of academic placement, career guidance, political party proclivity, student government group and organization interest inventories, and TB tests….
He had spent about 20 minutes with a lady counselor [d--- she’s hot!] making course selections and was now walking over to the Business Center Complex to pay his registration fees.
JB had come to this venerable institution of higher learning for various reasons. [But mostly because his dad told him to go back to school or else.] About two days ago, he quit his job at the Sticky Mart and thought he might like to lounge around the house for a while. That same afternoon, while he was home watching the TV and drinking an ice cold beer, his dad, John, strode into the house and told him he had to get another job, or join the military, or go to college, or get out of the !%$^@! house.
Basically lazy and not suited for menial labor, JB had been out of high school for two years now, and had never really thought about going on to school. But, none of the armed services wanted him because of his inability to read... so college seemed like a good possibility.
Online Presence and
Social Media Links
Face book Info Page
Getting to Know Phil Dolly Blog
Twitter Account @SalinasChick
Jeffrey Ross Creative Efforts Home Page on Web Eden (Music and More)
Jeffrey Ross Open Salon Blog—other poetry and essays