"One of my earliest memories is being four years old and watching 'Godzilla' on TV and then sitting at a typewriter pecking away at the keys trying to write a book about what I saw," Avery said during a phone call with The Park Record from his home in Brooklyn.
"Writing was just one of those things I wanted to do, and while it is a very frustrating craft to learn, I always found it was easier to write, than not write."
Avery's dream came true when he published two books "Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson" and "Conversations with Clint: Paul Nelson's Lost Interviews with Clint Eastwood, 1979 1983" last fall.
The books, which Avery will sign during an author even at Dolly's Bookstore on Saturday, April 14, were the result of his fascination with music and film critic Paul Nelson, whose pieces appeared in Rolling Stone and Village Voice in the 1970s.
"It was a personal kind of writing and I felt like he was taking me, the reader, into his confidence after he discovered something special," Avery said. "I found myself reading just for the pleasure of reading his writing, because his work just spoke to me in a way that none of the writers did. I followed his writing over the years to the point where I even saved his clippings."
When Nelson stopped writing in the early 1990s, Avery felt it was a shame no one had compiled the articles into a book.
"When I moved to New York in 2005 to get married and attempt to take my writing career into the next phase, I decided to find where Paul was," Avery said.
Avery found out Nelson was working as a clerk in a video store in Greenwich Village and hadn't written for years.
"I wrote to him and proposed that we work together and collect his best pieces and make a book," Avery said. "When I did receive response to the letter, it was from a friend of his, telling me Paul had passed away in July, 2006. The friend wrote that Paul was originally deeply touched that I considered the project and he wanted to do it, but physically and mentally wasn't in any shape to do it.
Avery took the response as a cue to do the book, "Everything Is an Afterthought," which would be published by Fantagraphics Books, by himself.
"Even though it started out as an anthology of Paul's work, as I started learning more about him and his life, I found there was a lot of Paul between the lines of the reviews and I knew the book I needed to do had to also be a biography," Avery said. "I thought it would be a great way to present his work and tell his story."
Avery learned the Rolling Stone articles were only a small portion of Nelson's material. " the end of the project, I identified more than 400 separate pieces that he had written in other publications," he said. "So, I chose the pieces that I thought were Paul's best and the ones that told his story."
Some of these pieces had never been published before, Avery explained.
"Also, there are some stories that are republished as unedited works," he said. "There was one cover story he did for Rolling Stone about Waren Zevon's battle with alcoholism and that piece was cut by 40 percent for publication. So, the entire, unedited article appears in my book for the first time."
Most of the rights for Nelson's various stories had reverted back to the writer, except for those that appeared in Rolling Stone.
"So, I wrote to the publisher Jann S. Wenner, who worked directly with Paul in the 1970s and he was very accommodating for me to use the stories," Avery said. "Jann and Paul clashed often over the type of writing Paul wanted to do. Paul wanted to do longer pieces and Jann wanted more succinct stories. Regardless, Jann recognized Paul's gifts and talents."
Avery whose own freelance music critiques were published in local magazines such as the Catalyst, Utah Holiday Magazine, Salt Lake Magazine and the now-defunct The Event worked on the book for four years and interviewed more than 100 people, including Paul's ex-wife and his son and his colleagues at Rolling Stone and musicians Jackson Brown, Bruce Springsteen and Rod Stewart.
"I even found he interviewed stars like Clint Eastwood," Avery said.
In fact, Avery's second book, "Conversations with Clint," published by Continuum Books, is culled from Nelson's interviews with Eastwood.
"Paul had some legendary projects that everybody knew about, but the problem was he couldn't finish them," Avery said. "One was the story about Eastwood.
"Remember, Eastwood wasn't the iconic film figure he is today, and a lot of the national critics weren't coming out professing how much they admired him," Avery said. "Paul, on the other hand, as far back as 1971 when he was reviewing the film 'Dirty Harry' for Rolling Stone, predicted great things for Clint both as an actor and director."
In 1979, Nelson convinced Rolling Stone to do a cover story on Eastwood and took off to interview him in Boise, Idaho, where he was filming the comedy "Bronco Billy," Avery said.
"Over the next four years, Paul ended up doing more than 17 hours of interviews with Clint and another 10 hours with the co-stars and the writers," he said. "Unfortunately, Paul, for various reasons, wasn't able to write this piece. So, I basically edited the interviews and put them in book form for 'Conversations with Clint.'"
In the past five years, as Avery listened, wrote and compiled the material for the books, he learned that Nelson didn't enjoy the writing process.
"For someone whose writing is so effortless to read, it was painful for him to write," Avery said. "He did it, ultimately, because he didn't know how to do anything else."
New York Author Kevin Avery will be at Dolly's Bookstore, 510 Main St., on Saturday, April 14, from 6:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. to sign his two books, "Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson" and "Conversations with Clint: Paul Nelson's Lost Interviews with Clint Eastwood, 1979 1983." For more information, visit dollysbookstore.com.