What a sweet surprise this was – Annie Rose Welch, author of the new Red Dirt Road, came by and shared the interview she did with the dazzling Boxer Michael Roberts! Continue on reading to learn more about Red Dirt Road and hurry quick and enter the giveaway below. Enjoy!
Special Guest Interview from Author Annie Rose Welch with Michael Roberts:
Interview with Michael “Nonpareil” Roberts
The last time I did one of these interviews, it was requested that I travel to Ireland. This time the setting is much different. The subject, or shall I say the person, is much different. I was asked to travel to a small gulf town in the south, Waveland, Mississippi. Not far from New Orleans, Waveland is just a few blocks from the coastline. As I drove the streets, I could smell the salty water, feel the rumble and bass of a passing train, see the leftover destruction from a devastating hurricane. I could imagine the strength it took to rebuild. And I’m not only referring to the city.
I was asked to come here to do an interview with Michael Roberts. Yes, the famous boxer who men admire because of his strength, his swift uppercut, his lethal right hook. The same famous boxer who women have dubbed “one of the most beautiful boxers in the world.” Both are very serious titles, I can assure you. This was not the first time I met the champ, but this was the first time that he and I were going round for round in the question ring.
We agreed to meet at the Smoked Hog, a family-owned bar that is only a few blocks from the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a real comfy place, dim, and smells of peanuts and beer. A jukebox plays softly in the background. Keith Urban. Two of the bar’s most notorious patrons are sitting on stools, nursing drinks and gossiping about the old man’s nephew, who was jailed and is, they agree, one of the stupidest criminals in history. From what I gather, he stole someone’s ATM card, smiling at the camera as he withdrew the woman’s money from her own bank. People are steadily coming in and out. Some eye me with suspicion. Some just nod and then go on about their business.
I hear the rumble of the train as its whistle sounds, feel its massive girth as it shakes the earth beneath the bar. Not long after, I hear the growl of a fast car as it pulls closer to the entrance. Willie, the bar’s owner, smiles and says, “Young gun is here. ’Bout damn time.” The woman sitting next to the old man smiles, her cheeks flushed, and I wonder what she’s thinking. The door to the bar opens and a bright light cuts through the darkness for a brief moment. I turn too quickly to see who it might be, and my pen and paper go flying to the floor. I bend to retrieve them, picking the paper up, but before I can get to the pen, I’m greeted by a warm smile, the brightest and bluest of eyes, and a laugh you’d wish was contagious.
I stare for a moment. Seeing him is almost like experiencing the worst déjà vu. His presence in a room is like a wrecking ball. The air whooshes and people move out of his way; he owns every inch of space he steps through. For another moment I just stare. He pushes the pen at me. When I don’t take it, he laughs and then makes some quip about laying off the booze this early in the day. For one of the most celebrated boxers in the world, he sure does have a good sense of humor. Seeing as I have no control over my brain to hand coordination, he rests the pen on the table and takes the seat directly across from me. He smells like the coming of fall, and I catch myself sniffing the air in his direction. He has broad shoulders, and when he crosses his arms across his chest, the tendons in his arms flex. He is, for lack of a better word, dazzling.
Michael Roberts: (grinning) How long have you been drinking?
ARW: Excuse me?
(I have to be honest here. That was probably one of the most pathetic comebacks I’ve ever had.)
Michael Roberts: (laughing so loudly, I’m startled back to reality) You have to watch out for Willie. He’s like the chameleon of the bar. You don’t even realize he’s refilled your glass so much until he hits you with the tab. He fades and then comes back. Fades and then comes back. (He pauses) Then, boom, here’s your tab. And you’re too drunk by then to even care.
(Willie says something gruff in the background and then throws a dish rag at Michael’s head. He dodges and laughs.)
Michael Roberts: So, you came here to ask me a few questions?
ARW: Yes, um… (I fiddle with the papers and prepare to write) I thought you could answer a few questions for me. It won’t take long. I just have a few things to ask you.
Michael Roberts: I don’t mind. Take your time.
(As I circle the pen around the paper, making sure it’s going to write, he hums the tune playing in the background. I look up and our eyes meet. We both smile and I relax a little. But Jesus, he’s nothing but rugged beauty.)
ARW: By the way, happy belated birthday.
Michael Roberts: Thanks. Another year older, another year wiser. Hopefully. (He smirks)
ARW: Tell me Michael, what have you been doing since you retired from boxing?
Michael Roberts: I was working here at the bar for a while. But I’ve started a new chapter of my life, a new journey, and I feel like I’m headed where I should be.
ARW: Can you tell me where that is?
Michael Roberts: (staring intensely for a moment, biting the side of his cheek) You’re going to make this difficult, aren’t you? You know if I tell you, I’m going to ruin the surprise. There are just some things in life worth waiting for.
ARW: All right then. Let’s try something easier.
Michael Roberts: I know you. You are a sneaky woman. You are going to try and weasel it out of me.
ARW: Not I. I’d never do such a thing. What is the most surprising thing that has happened to you this year?
Michael Roberts: There you go again. (He wags a finger at me) I’m not biting. But I will say that I have uncovered a lot of secrets. I have met people I never thought I would.
ARW: You’re dangling bait in front of a fish, you know. You know I’m going to bite. What secrets have you uncovered?
Michael Roberts: Secrets of the past that will forever change our future. If it wasn’t for Layla, I would have never known.
ARW: What sort of people have you met?
Michael Roberts: People who belong.
ARW: Of the famous sort?
Michael Roberts: (shrugging and then growling a little) Do you want to tell them?
ARW: (thinking for a moment) Maybe not.
Michael Roberts: I didn’t think so.
ARW: Let’s do a top-ten speed round. You ready?
Michael Roberts: Speed away.
ARW: Favorite song?
Michael Roberts: “If I Should Fall Behind.” That song has special meaning to me.
ARW: Favorite place in Ireland?
Michael Roberts: Apart from my home in Donegal, Dunluce Castle.
ARW: Chicken or Beef?
Michael Roberts: (He laughs) Pork.
ARW: Favorite thing to do in your off time?
Michael Roberts: Woodworking.
ARW: What is your favorite meal?
Michael Roberts: Pizza.
ARW: The fight of your career—the one opponent you’ll never forget.
Michael Roberts: Layla.
ARW: (throwing a piece of paper at him) Be serious!
Michael Roberts: (dodging) I am. She’s brutal when she gets mad.
ARW: Your idea of the perfect date.
Michael Roberts: My idea of the perfect date would be pizza, moonlight, an old red dirt road, and my favorite girl beside me.
ARW: Sounds familiar and nice. Who inspires you?
Michael Roberts: Layla. She’s my biggest challenge and my biggest reward.
ARW: Most overused saying.
Michael Roberts: Bible.
ARW: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Michael Roberts: (becoming silent, his face softer in thought) A house full of kids and laughter. Layla singing in one of the rooms, humming some beautiful song. I see myself older, hopefully wiser, and a bit stronger. I see a man who is perfectly content with who he has and what he has achieved. All I’ve ever wanted was to put down roots, find my best friend, and live our eternity together. I have that. It’s all I’ll ever want. Now, I have a question for you. Where have you been?
ARW: And I’m the weasel? You know what you’re doing. I’ve been around.
Michael Roberts: I do, and that’s why I’m asking. Have you made any new friends lately?
ARW: I’ve been in Nashville, mostly. And yes, yes, I have. I take it you’ve met?
Michael Roberts: Of course. We had to find out why you haven’t been around for a while.
I smile and he laughs. I prepare to pack up my things and head out of the sleepy gulf town when he stops me. He asks if I’d like to join them for dinner. I agree and we ride together in Layla’s Mustang. I spend an evening talking, laughing, and reminiscing. And when I leave, I remember why I came in the first place, and I know without a doubt that part of my heart will always remain with them.
About Red Dirt Road:
A new cast is introduced, while journeys already taken start to merge with the present, leading you down the old Red Dirt Road.
Death has always seemed just one step behind Layla Hill, taking almost everyone she’s ever loved. After she loses the love of her life, Layla vows to never love again—how could she, when she’s a death magnet?
Trying to outrun fate traveling with her uncle Willie and his band, Layla meets Michael Roberts, a beautiful Irish boxer as gentle on the piano as he is brutal in the ring. He proves as relentless in life, fighting for a place in her world even as she pushes him away, trying to protect him from her killer tendencies.
But neither foresees the sinister presence waiting for Layla at the end of the Red Dirt Road.
About Author Annie Rose Welch:
Born and raised in New Orleans, Annie has a habit of shortening her words and telling long stories. She speaks with a southern flair and cooks with it too. At the tender age of twenty- one, she hitched up her wagons (took her first plane ride) and moved out west to the big shake (California). Her writing career began one sleepless night when she imagined a gorgeous woman and a man with maniacal hair floating above her like lightening bugs falling from the sky. Curious about them, their story, and why they were floating around in her head, she sat down and penned (typed) her first novel, Marigny Street. A dream come true for her, she hasn’t stopped writing since. She loves a damn good love story, always has, no matter what the genre. She is particularly moved by imperfect love that in its own unique way is perfect, the notion of love at first sight, soul mates, and things that are generally out of the norm.
When she’s not writing she enjoys dabbling in photography and finding new, inspirational music to add to her collection. She currently (still) resides in the big shake (although her southern roots are calling her home) with her husband, daughter, and their two peculiar dogs, Boudreaux and Tabasco (who, call her crazy, bark with an accent).
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