by Daniel Johnson
Interviewer’s Note: Lee T. Lunsford is a writer based out of Dalton, Georgia who published his debut novel, Roadie in December 2011 through Infinity Publishing. The story details the journey of Luke Turner, who after running into some bad luck pursues his dream job in the professional wrestling industry. The tale’s other primary character is Kelly Banks, a female wrestler who’s name was created by Lunsford by combining the monikers of former WWE diva, Kelly Kelly and former TNA knockout, Payton Banks. Lunsford’s writing draws inspiration from what he loosely defines as a relationship he had from November 2004 to December 2007. A lifelong wrestling fan Lunsford plans to turn the Roadie world into a trilogy with two upcoming novels, When Dreams Come True! and Happily Ever After???. Lunsford can be found on Twitter @leesspfrancise and his YouTube page can be found here. This interview was completed on October 10, 2014. In this interview Lunsford and I focus on the topic of writing his first wrestling novel.
Daniel Johnson: In a sentence or two how would you describe your book, Roadie?
Lee T. Lunsford: Nicholas Sparks has nothing on me.
Daniel Johnson: For those who have yet to check out the book what would you tell them that may inspire them to check it out and where can it be purchased?
Lee T. Lunsford: It is a true wrestling fan’s fantasy turned reality in print. It can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, buybooksontheweb.com, and eBay. Search Roadie, might have to add my pen name Lee T. Lunsford in the author block.
Daniel Johnson: Going way back before you started to write this book I was wondering when and where were you born and how did you first come to be interested in writing?
Lee T. Lunsford: I was born in Columbus, Ohio, and grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina. I moved to Dalton, Georgia in 1996 after my parents had their divorce. To hear my mom say it I have always been interested in writing, but I am not sure exactly what age I attempted to start.
Daniel Johnson: Who are some authors that interested you from early in your life?
Lee T. Lunsford: I’ve never been one to truly read for fun. I’ve always rather written than read, but when I did read growing up in elementary school I read a bunch of RL Stine.
Daniel Johnson: Likewise, I take it you’ve read some wrestling books. What have been some ones that stick out the most for you? Have any directly influenced you?
Lee T. Lunsford: None have directly influenced me, and I did read some wrestling autobiographies in junior high, but they weren’t an influence with anything in my work or life.
Daniel Johnson: Likewise, wrestling novels are a very niche and intriguing genre. So I was also curious how did you first come to be a wrestling fan?
Lee T. Lunsford: I turned 31 years old on September 6, 2014, and to hear my mom say it I have been watching professional wrestling since I was 2 or 3 years-old. I don’t really know how I got into it.
Daniel Johnson: Who were some characters in wrestling that first really drew you in?
Lee T. Lunsford: Hulk Hogan of course. I began watching wrestling in the 1980s so there were all the iconic 1980 wrestlers.
Daniel Johnson: Getting more into your first book, Roadie I understand it is a very personal story for you. For readers who may be unaware of the history behind the book could you give a brief explanation of it?
Lee T. Lunsford: I was in a friendship with a girl for three years, and after three years she decided to turn her back on me. One night I was watching ECW on Syfy, and Kelly Kelly came out. I thought what would life be like if I could go on the road with Kelly Kelly as her assistant. Like an assistant Hollywood stars have. I later turned that thought into a one of a kind wrestling romance novel. Something that has never existed before that I am aware of.
Daniel Johnson: What was the writing process of Roadie like? I read in an article about you published in The Dalton Daily Citizen you spent 12 hour days working on the book. What did a typical day of writing the book consist of and how long did the process take in total?
Lee T. Lunsford: I worked on Roadie between December 2007 and WrestleMania XXIV in 2008. I did work on it about 12 hours a day, and probably typed the rough draft in about three weeks, but it took from December 2007 to WrestleMania 24 to get everything plotted, typed the rough draft and proof it to the point I sent it off to Infinity Publishing.
Daniel Johnson: What was the most challenging part of writing this book?
Lee T. Lunsford: I wrote it with an ease. Not to be cocky, but I just used my fantasy to lead the way. I wasn’t working much at the movie theater at the time because they were cutting hours so I got to dedicate all my time to it.
Daniel Johnson: I also read on a piece about Roadie published by wrestlingnewsdepot.com that you got the female characters name, Kelly Banks from combining the names of former WWE wrestler, Kelly Kelly and former TNA wrestler, Payton Banks. What was it about these two performers that stuck out enough to you to name your character after them?
Lee T. Lunsford: I won’t lie I was attracted to both, and I have a thing for blondes. So Kelly Kelly’s physical looks play into Kelly Banks. I used to talk to Ms. Banks on MySpace at the time when that was the hottest thing at the time. She was fun to talk to, and I even sent her the first signed copy of Roadie, along with an article I wrote on wrestling for the Chattanooga State Communicator which was the school newspaper I wrote for when I was attending there [Chattanooga State Community College]. I got to interview Consequences Creed, and attend the first TNA live event in Dalton, Georgia for free. We talked up to the point MySpace just crashed out. I combined the two names, and added in personality traits of my dream girl, to create the fictional character of Kelly Banks.
Daniel Johnson: This is kind of a side question, but given the WWE and TNA influence I was wondering if you stick to these promotions as a fan or if you are into indie wrestling as well?
Lee T. Lunsford: I’ve never been to an indie wrestling event.
Daniel Johnson: Speaking of wrestling in general and also getting back to your book in that aforementioned wrestlingnewsdepot.com article I understand Mick Foley gave you some advice when you had the chance to meet him. I was curious have you gotten any other feedback from those in the wrestling industry?
Lee T. Lunsford: No, I haven’t.
Daniel Johnson: Looking to the future I understand Roadie will be part of a trilogy along with two upcoming books, When Dreams Come True! and Happily Ever After??? When can readers expect to see these books released and how can they get them?
Lee T. Lunsford: They are a work in progress. It will be down the road because I have other work I am working on currently, and I just want to get them right.
Daniel Johnson: Can you tell us anymore about these two books currently?
Lee T. Lunsford: Slowly, but surely they drift away from professional wrestling and focus more on their lives.
Daniel Johnson: Looking beyond this trilogy are there any further projects you are working on? If so then what are they? Also, do you have any interest in writing non-wrestling books?
Lee T. Lunsford: Yes, Simply Priceless, my superhero genre book. I like to refer to it as 1980’s action meets modern superhero adventure, it is kind of like the Lethal Weapon franchise meets Supergirl. I am in the editing faze of that book right now. Yes, I have interest in writing non-wrestling books.
Daniel Johnson: To wind down interviews I always like to ask a few non-wrestling questions then a few more wrestling relevant questions. First, what is your favorite movie to come out in the last year?
Lee T. Lunsford: Well, I don’t know if it counts, and maybe I am being a bit of a smart ass, but my favorite movie of all time is Ghostbusters, and it was just re-released back in September for its thirtieth anniversary.
Daniel Johnson: What do you most enjoy watching on TV these days?
Lee T. Lunsford: Wrestling of course I watch the majority of the time, but I love The Big Bang Theory other than that. I watch some of the shows on TruTV and A&E such as Hardcore Pawn, Lizard Lick Towing and Impractical Jokers. Then on A&E, Epic Ink, Shipping Wars, Wahlburgers, Brandi & Jarrod and such but the majority of things I watch are Big Bang Theory reruns and wrestling. I also watch Law and Order: SVU, Friends reruns and Duck Dynasty. I can’t watch TNA anymore because my cable provider dropped Spike.
Daniel Johnson: What is the last book you read and would you recommend it?
Lee T. Lunsford: The last book I read was the Supergirl novelization to the Supergirl movie, and it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t much different from the movie. It is just up to the point if the person liked the movie or not whether I would recommend them to reading it.
Daniel Johnson: Have you tried any new foods in the last year? If so what has been your favorite new food you tried in the past year?
Lee T. Lunsford: No, I haven’t.
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite song to come out in the last year?
Lee T. Lunsford: I don’t really listen to music.
Daniel Johnson: Getting back to wrestling I was curious since writing is such a big part of wrestling these days what is your favorite wrestling angle of all time and why?
Lee T. Lunsford: That question is so hard to answer but the NWO is a classic. And probably because it was one of the most memorable due to all the havoc it caused between the two companies.
Daniel Johnson: Have you ever considered writing/booking for a wrestling promotion at the independent level?
Lee T. Lunsford: No, I haven’t.
Daniel Johnson: I’m always curious about anything people may find odd about their work. So what if anything was the weirdest part about writing a wrestling book for you?
Lee T. Lunsford: Nothing was odd about it because it was all my driven fantasy of what I would love to happen in regards to hooking up with a female professional wrestler.
Daniel Johnson: Is there anything you would like to add?
Lee T. Lunsford: Not at this present time.
Check out a promotional video for Roadie by Lee T. Lunsford here! Former TNA knockout, Payton Banks has expressed support for the work. In 2013 she wrestled against former WWE diva, Jillian Hall for Victory Pro Wrestling (VPW) at VPW Eighty…and Counting:
Categories: Wrestling Interviews