Earl's the real thing

I thoroughly enjoyed the cover story on Earl Hamner ["Earl's world," May 15] (http://www.readthehook.com/93466/cover-earls-world-almost-being-real-place). He and I worked together on his latest book, The Twilight Zone Scripts of Earl Hamner, and I know firsthand the degree to which Earl and Virginia are intertwined. While a love of the people is evident in his work, it goes far deeper: Earl's very soul springs from the earth where he was born and raised.

This upbringing has instilled a sense of pride in who he is and a measure of compassion so vast that Earl is compelled to share it with all who know him. Several years ago, hoping to bring out some interesting information for Twilight Zone fans, I sought out Earl in his capacity as a writer. What I found was no less than a true friend, admired not only for his talent but also for his sincerity and compassion.

Though separated by the breadth of the country (Earl lives on the West Coast and I on the East), we established a rapport and compiled our book via long sessions on the telephone and computer. Yet at no time did it feel like work. This professional and personal relationship was cemented when my wife, Cindy, and I visited California to meet with Earl and Jane (his wonderful wife, and nowhere on Earth can you find two people more deserving of each other). They treated us not as new friends but as extended family members.

Upon learning of Earl's participation in Virginia's "Festival of the Book," Cindy and I knew we had to be there. That very day, we hopped in the car and drove from central New Jersey to Charlottesville. We knew going in that a tight schedule and an early flight would prevent Earl from entertaining us; still, just to catch his presentation and join him at the subsequent book signing made the trip worthwhile. Such is the pleasure of Earl's company.

The Hook's interview shows a good deal of Earl's charm and wit. Your readers might be reassured to know that what appeared was not some Hollywood hype or exaggerated fluff piece. With Earl, what you see is what you get. From the feistiness of Falcon Crest to the imagination of Twilight Zone to the warmth and tenderness of The Waltons, Earl's fiction is an extension of himself. His work is alive because he lives within it.

Tony Albarella
Woodbridge, New Jersey