Vassallo: Historical Novel ‘Ethereal’ by Al Price Is Now Available

Al Price has written an incredible story based in 1983 in rural Mississippi. Two teenagers, one white and one black, pursue different paths as the close friends experience life’s challenges that they had never anticipated.

HottyToddy.com: Al, this is a unique story. What prompted you to write it?

Al Price: The story developed in my mind for over 35 years as a mechanism to help me go to sleep at night. In 2006, after retiring from one job, I began to realize that it was a story worth writing, even though I had not written anything like this before.

HottyToddy.com: How did you develop the storyline?

Al Price: The inspiration began around 1970 when Archie Manning, a Mississippi boy who was not highly recruited, became the super exciting football player at Ole Miss. Each night, I embellished the story and took the events a little farther in time. Also, I knew a little something about rural life, just “getting by,” Memphis, riverboats, country ways to have fun and football.

HottyToddy.com: Ole Miss football plays a key role. How so?

Al Price: My first football game was the Ole Miss-Maryland game in 1952 as a Boy Scout usher. It was natural to make Ole Miss the school where Aeamon Lee would walk on in an effort to make the team.

HottyToddy.com: Before we get too deep into the weeds of Ethereal, tell our readers who Al Price is.

Al Price: I was born and reared in Yalobusha County, Mississippi, just down the road at the lower end of the hollow. My career has mainly been as a university professor in sociology.

HottyToddy.com: Explain the decision behind the title.

Al Price: “Ethereal” is one of the most beautiful words in the English language. Aeamon Lee’s mother convinced him that he could place himself on the upper regions of existence, the ethereal plane, and with that mindset, he could always compete and win.

HottyToddy.com: The year 1983 seems at least on the surface to be an unusual time to launch a novel.

Al Price: The pinnacle year is 1983, a time of much social class-consciousness, a time of yuppies, preppies and designer everything. And, I needed a certain historical event to be in the background of the story, which occurred that same year.

HottyToddy.com: Beyond the Ole Miss family, who all would enjoy reading this book?

Al Price: Since the story is primarily about the protagonist and unforgettable characters such as his African American neighbor, his Saturday night friends on Sorghum Hill, a rich aunt, “Toe Foot,” snooty socialites, team players, coaches, the mysterious and beautiful Maleah, and many antagonists–really, anyone.

HottyToddy.com: The two primary characters, Aeamon Lee Mistral and Jo-Nathan Markum were inspired by?

Al Price: Aeamon Lee has a little of Archie, a little of me, but most came from imagination. Across the highway from my grandmother were two black brothers being raised by grandparents, and with just the three of us, we played baseball in a pasture. In this simple play in the early 1950s, I discovered we were so much more alike than we were different.

HottyToddy.com: What sets this novel apart?

Al Price: When Aeamon Lee read something that he thought was inspiring, he wrote it down on a three-by-five index card. Eventually, he memorized all of them, and at just the right moment, he quoted from poetry, classical literature, songs or famous sayings. Those reference sources are given in the back of the book.

HottyToddy.com: Without revealing the ending, how will the book leave the reader? Are there real life lessons to be learned?

Al Price: They will smile and be reminded that no matter the victories or defeats, there is nothing better than coming home to a warm house, good food, a precious father and loving mother and attention to even the small pleasures. The story has Faulkner’s “old verities” such as “love, honor, pride, compassion and sacrifice,” along with perseverance, self-confidence, daring, brotherly care and the pains of injustice.

HottyToddy.com: It is our understanding that Barnes and Noble has taken a real interest in promoting the novel.

Al Price: They have been very helpful in initiating and planning the book signing in the Grove on Oct. 14, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. I owe Laurie Woo a huge thank you as well as Chad Martin at LaurelRose Publishing.

HottyToddy.com: Homecoming participants to the Grove on Oct. 14 can find you in the Grove signing copies. Where do we look?

Al Price: The tent will be set up in front of Farley Hall. Come by…would be great to see you.

“ETHEREAL” written by Al Price and published by LaurelRose appears to be a motion picture not far in the future. The story is so gripping, dramatic and fast moving, it is a wonderful Christmas gift to those who enjoy an occasional escape from the harsh realities of 2017…on and off the field.


Steve VassalloSteve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.

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