But our tiny "about the author" sections and space-constrained posts here (you might remember Gary from this one) can't possibly describe the full story of how Gary survived a brain tumor and wrote Hot Shot. For that, we have this fantastic profile that recently appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Here's our favorite excerpt from the article, but we definitely encourage you to head over to the AJC website and read the whole thing. Monday mornings can be discouraging--this story is the opposite.
In 2001, Ruffin was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor the size of a plum. Surgery saved his life but left him with a slew of disabilities. For nearly a decade, he has lived with double vision, fainting spells and an inability to swallow properly. He can't eat or drink and must absorb nutrients through a feeding tube.
In addition, he can no longer play guitar or sing in public, a painful reality for a working musician since age 12. But he doesn't complain. That's not his style.
"I miss it, but it's one of those crying-over-spilled-milk deals," he says. "You have to move on and concentrate on the things you can do."
On Sunday, Ruffin will have an informal book-signing of his first novel, "Hot Shot," a detective mystery. Part of a three-book deal with Overlook Press, "Hot Shot" is the story of a man who has had it easy for a long time, then gets slapped in the face with difficult situations. It sounds like Ruffin's life.
In 2002, Debra Rivard, a friend of Ruffin's and an English literature teacher in Indianapolis, told him he had a knack for writing and suggested he pen a book about his brain surgery.
"I just felt that if he started writing about his experience, it would be a catharsis to him and an inspiration to others," Rivard said. "He never groveled in self-pity. He just accepted his fate and even made fun of his Chewbacca voice."
Ruffin wrote a few pages about the surgery, then gave up.
"I realized it was depressing as all hell," he says. "It was difficult to tell my story without sounding like I was complaining."
The full article is definitely worth a read. You can learn more about Gary by checking out the previous coverage here on the Winged Elephant, and coming back for updates. Have a fantastic week!