It was near the one-room school house he attended as a child where Ronnie Ray Jenkins first got "the writing bug."
He used to wait for the school bus for a few minutes after class to get back home to Clearcreek - a small, close-knit coal mining town near Flinton that was bulldozed in the 1980s.
"I had a school teacher who would allow me to write stories and read for the class to kill time before the bus," he recalled. "That's when I really started concocting these stories."
Ronnie Ray Jenkins, seen here at a book signing in Canada, grew up in the now-defunct community of Clearcreek, outside of Flinton.
Jenkins’ latest novel is titled “The Flynn?City Egg?Man.”
From those humble beginnings, Jenkins, 55, who now resides in Canada, has built a stable career as an author of novels and short stories. His latest book, "The Flynn City Egg Man," was influenced greatly by his experiences growing up in the local area.
The book follows the town peddler of Flynn City as he tries to make amends with the locals after some bad business dealings. But then a popular high school girl goes missing, and his plans are foiled when he becomes the main suspect in her disappearance.
Jenkins said he modeled the character after the men in Clearcreek who used to pedal eggs and butter from the back of a pick-up truck back in the 1960s when he was growing up.
"You could buy your shoes right off a truck," he said.
Jenkins did a variety of odd jobs before being an author became his full-time career. He received a degree in fish and wildlife studies from Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio, and went on to serve in the Army. He later held a job as a park ranger in southeastern Pennsylvania near Lancaster.
"But when you're a writer, you always have that plan," Jenkins said of being published. "Anyone who is going to write a novel, when you sit down to do it, you have your work set out for you."
Jenkins first became known as an author after publishing short stories online, gaining loyal followers through various virtual outlets. That is how Larry Czeronka, who owns is own publishing company in Hawaii, became aware of Jenkins' work. Czeronka first offered to build Jenkins his own website, and then offered to publish his novels in paperback.
He said he likes Jenkins' writing because they are stories to which everyone can relate.
"It's not the violence and gore stuff, it's not the sex stuff in '50 Shades of Grey,' and it's not the killing people stuff in 'The Hunger Games,'" he said.
Jenkins' breakthrough success came with the publication of "The Flowers of Reminiscence," which he began working on as far back as 1996. It is being sold in the U.S. through amazon.com, and has alrady moved several thousand copies and garnered several five-star reviews.
"The Flowers of Reminiscence" tells the story of a woman who wakes up in a nursing home with no idea how she got there, but an old journal and a book of dried flowers unlock the details of her past. It was the first Jenkins book that Carole Gondek, 59, of Flinton read after recognizing that he grew up in the area. She finished it in two days.
"To me, it was effortless," she said. "It didn't leave you hanging. It gave you a good ending."
Gondek has seen friends post recommendations on Facebook to read "The Flynn City Egg Man." Though she hasn't yet, she believes people in the area would like it.
"Even people that have moved away, they relate to it because it takes them back," she said.
This was exactly what Jenkins intended to happen when he wrote it.
"They'll say, 'I've been there' or 'I remember that place' or 'Wow, I remember when a Hershey bar cost five cents,'" he said.
Jenkins is on an extensive book tour in Canada, where he is distributing his novels solely through a small bookstore to show his support for independent publishing.
He wants to come back to the area soon to help inspire local kids and artists, and possibly even set up a scholarship fund at Glendale Junior-Senior High School in Flinton, his alma mater.
"These areas today need more help than ever before," Jenkins said. "There is so much decay in these areas of the Appalachians going on that they seem to be an ignored microcosm in America. I'm the kind of guy who would help people take pride in their community."
Jenkins' work can be purchased through his website www.ronnierayjenkins.com or through Amazon.
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.