June 16, 2011

Made It Moment: Doug Carlyle

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 7:30 am

In Search of the Fuller Brush Man

This is a poignant Made It Moment that drives right into the heart of two different concepts: family  & success. It’s a somewhat rare occurrence when a Moment makes me decide to read the book–I usually know whether it’s my kind of thing as soon as I contact or hear from an author–and as you all know, I feature a wider range of books on this site than reflect my particular tastes. But after reading Doug’s words, I know I will be buying this not-my-usual read. I have to know the mystery of the Fuller Brush Man!

Doug Carlyle

I self-pub’d In Search of the Fuller Brush Man last December in memory of my mother and my high school girlfriend of…well…let’s just say a long time ago. My mother kept a journal while she had cancer. Her last written words 23 years ago were, “Fuller Brush Man.” Finding the meaning to those words became my obsession. I am satisfied that I solved the mystery. My release from the burden of my quest is fictionally represented in this novel. Of course, the lines between fiction and reality are very blurred.

That aside, I can imagine no greater moment than when my father paid me a compliment on my novel. It wasn’t that he enjoyed my novel. He did. But rather, townspeople where I grew up, and where he still lives, now come up to him and congratulate HIM for MY work.

We’re from a relatively small town where my father was the manager for what was really the only pharmacy. In that capacity, he literally knew everyone, and they knew him.  Now eighty-seven years old, there are few things that get my father excited these days. He’s traveled to 80-plus countries. He takes three big trips a year. He drives a Corvette! I can honestly tell you nothing has stirred his juices as much as bragging about his son, and his son’s debut novel –set in our hometown, no less.

He earned this moment. He did a great job raising me. He put me through college. I landed a great job and had a spectacular career. I delivered on my end of the bargain by getting married, having children, and now grandchildren of my own. Those objectives, he expected me to achieve. Writing a novel? That was a complete surprise. Soon, I’ll have my next one out for him to brag about.

Doug Carlyle grew up in Illinois and graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He is living proof that geeks can write good fiction. Having left the semiconductor industry after 26 years, he now focuses on the second part of his dual-career. He is a paramedic/firefighter, fulfilling a childhood dream. He raised his family in Texas where today he lives on his ranch with his wife, youngest daughter, horses, and goats. His creed: Writing Fiction and Saving Lives…All in a Day’s Work.


  1. Terrific story, Doug.


    Comment by Arthur Levine — June 16, 2011 @ 8:44 am

  2. Awesome! You go, Doug!

    Comment by Kristie Leigh Maguire — June 16, 2011 @ 8:49 am

  3. How bizarre!

    Comment by Savvy — June 16, 2011 @ 10:25 am

  4. How very neat. Congratulations, to you and to your Dad. Sounds an intriguing novel.

    Comment by Sheila Deeth — June 16, 2011 @ 11:44 am

  5. An especially happy, literate, Corvette rumble of a Father’s Day to the both of you.

    Comment by Lenny Kleinfeld — June 16, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

  6. My mother used to buy brushes from the Fuller Brush Man! The only door-to-door salesman she ever let in the door. Congratulations.

    Comment by Sara — June 16, 2011 @ 7:40 pm

  7. Intriguing! Fuller Brush man is just enough to set off my imagination. All sorts of possibilities pop into my head. And it’s so nice that your father is enjoying the book and your success. Nice story.

    Comment by Ellis Vidler — June 17, 2011 @ 6:30 am

  8. Wow! This brings a tear to my eye. I can remember my own mother always buying something from the Fuller Brush man. It was a different time.
    Our front door was always open during the day. My mother had a soft heart and bought things from door to door sales people–even a set of encyclopedias from a man down on his luck.

    Comment by Jacqueline Seewald — June 17, 2011 @ 7:29 am

  9. These are such great comments, everyone. I had a feeling Doug’s story would strike a nerve, but I didn’t realize the scope–how his story would reach back through time, contrast the world we live in now with another.

    Thank you, everybody, for stopping by.

    Comment by jenny — June 17, 2011 @ 7:56 am

  10. Fascinating story, Doug.

    Comment by Marilyn Levinson — June 17, 2011 @ 10:52 am

  11. Thank each and every one of you for all of the positive feedback!!

    I am not sure if this is the appropriate place, but here is an overview of the storyline. The Fuller Brush Man of long ago is quite the hero.

    Sean Marcum is driven to find the meaning of his mother’s swan song. The last words she wrote in her journal were, “Fuller Brush Man”. She always communicated life’s most important lessons via riddles, and he is convinced this is her finale. Sadly, Sean was never good at solving riddles, and his quest turns into an obsession, nearly costing him his marriage, and his life.

    Sean’s high school sweetheart, Kim, had a special bond with his mother. She was also a master at riddles. The one-time lovers have been married to others for more than 30 years. Kim’s marriage has been picture perfect, Sean’s not so much. Upon Kim’s death from breast cancer, Sean receives a memoir she penned celebrating their failed relationship. Her book, The Road to Monticello, contains the secret to a long, happy relationship for which Sean so desperately searches. It is a lesson all of us should take to heart.

    The timing Jenny’s message is very important. The novel ends (on a positive note) on July 4th. I will be signing books at Jane Addams Book Shop in Champaign, Illinois on July 2nd if anyone is in that area.

    The book in many ways blurs fiction with autobiography. The woman whom I depicted as “Kim” in my novel, did in fact die of breast cancer on June 30 last year. I listed that as my publication date, and dedicated the book in memory of her, along with my mother.

    May each of you who buys my book, enjoy it and honor its message.

    Comment by Doug Carlyle — June 17, 2011 @ 7:22 pm

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