Santa Barbara resident writes ‘Mavericks, Mystics and Misfits’
Arthur Hoyle’s passion for writing began in earnest.
After spending more than 20 years in a Los Angeles school system — and a number of other years trying his hand in the film industry and as a political consultant — Mr. Hoyle set out to publish his first book during the start of his retirement in 2008.
Now, with two published books and a third on the way, the train keeps rolling for Mr. Hoyle.
The Santa Barbara resident’s second published book, “Mavericks, Mystics and Misfits: Americans Against the Grain” (Sunbury Press, 2020), went to the press in March 2020, right before the pandemic struck.
Though the timing of the book’s release made things difficult for promotion, the book was a finalist in the Historical Biography category in the 2020 National Indie Excellence Awards. The book also was the winner of the Historical Biography category in the 2021 Independent Press Awards.
The book presents a timeline of American history told through the stories of 10 exemplary individuals.
The book spans major moments in American history, such as the Revolutionary War, slavery and the climate revolution, all told through the stories of individuals who lived at the time and made a difference.
Mr. Hoyle describes an exemplar as someone who is a “model human being.” He felt inspired to write this book after publishing his first book, “The Unknown Henry Miller: A Seeker in Big Sur” (Arcade, 2014), which is a biographical account of the life of Mr. Miller (1891-1980), an American novelist and artist. Mr. Miller developed the idea of “the exemplar,” oftentimes pointing to artists or religious figures who he saw as models for mankind.
“I decided to take that concept of the exemplar and apply it to American history, and see if I could tell the story of American history through the lives of people that one would consider exemplary,” Mr. Hoyle told the News-Press. “And so you get a kind of biography of America, through individual lives, individual life stories, rather than just a conventional chronological history of now this happened and that happened and so on.”
The first chapter of the book begins with the story of Roger Williams, a Puritan and the founder of Providence, R.I., who made the journey overseas to escape religious persecution. His religious convictions were so strong — stronger than those of the Massachusetts Puritans — that he started Providence as his own separate community.
A similar theme is found in the story of Warren and Cindy Brush, two Santa Barbara residents who Mr. Hoyle writes about in the book’s final chapter. The story of the Brush couple represents the current time in history, where climate activists worldwide are making strides to mitigate the impacts of climate change before it is too late.
The Brush couple are practitioners of permaculture, a human design philosophy that promotes living in harmony with nature. Their convictions led them to create Quail Springs, a farm in Cuyama where about 20 people live completely reliant on the land.
The residents rely mostly on solar energy, they grow their own food, care for animals who provide milk, cheese and meat, and only use fossil fuels to run some of their equipment.
Reflecting on his book, Mr. Hoyle noted how the historical biography is bookended with the stories of people who lived out their convictions in a unique way.
“The book starts and ends with people who started their own communities based on, you know, principles that they believe deeply in,” Mr. Hoyle said. “That’s what made them mavericks.”
In the time since his second book was published, Mr. Hoyle moved to Santa Barbara with his wife, Mimi, in the summer of 2020. When the pandemic ends, he’s looking forward to hosting various community events to promote his book more than a year after its initial launch.
While reflecting on his experience as a writer, Mr. Hoyle said his wife acted as a strong support system during the process of writing his book.
“I didn’t attend a writing class, I wasn’t in a writing group, so I wasn’t getting feedback from, you know, some community of writers,” Mr. Hoyle said. “The only person who was reading what I was writing was my wife. And I really trusted her judgment because she’s smart, and she reads a lot, and she was also an educator. So her feedback was invaluable.”
He continued, “And if I had written something, and she read it and said, ‘Oh, this isn’t clear,’ or ‘It’s not interesting,’ I would take that to heart. And so she was the in-house editorial team. You know, just having the kind of support and belief from just one person is really important.”
Soon after the completion of his second book, Mr. Hoyle set out to write what is now his upcoming historical biography “The Jealous Muse.” The book uses the concept of the exemplar once again, but this time to tell the stories of artists across various art forms and examine how they juggle their passion for art with the responsibilities of life. The book is currently in manuscript and awaiting publishing.