Fred Plocher knows a thing or two about risk and reward. As an entrepreneur, the Victoria resident successfully started five businesses. Last year, he took a chance and published his first novel, Stealing Watermelons, and it has created quite the buzz among book lovers.
“After a busy career, I decided to write the book because I had something to say,” Plocher says. “I was able to get that message out through a story of four couples taking risks in business, relationships and politics.”
Set in Carver County in the 1950s and 1960s, the story begins with four very different boys meeting at Waconia High School. Plocher named the book after an early chapter where the boys are caught stealing watermelons and form a bond that remains over many decades. Laced with humor, tension, conflicts, surprises and spiced with romance and compelling characters, the story follows the major events in the intertwined lives of the four main characters and their wives—all of whom take financial and personal risks in search of rewards. “There are great stories in every town,” Plocher says. “These four small-town couples are striving for the American dream and then the significance of the Vietnam War has the potential to divide them, but it’s the chances they take that frame their lives.”
Before Stealing Watermelons, Plocher had never really written much more than the family Christmas letter. He majored in business at Hamline University and made a living as a successful entrepreneur. He’s well known in Victoria for developing the Deer Run Golf Community and surrounding neighborhood.
Once retired, it was his wife who encouraged him to join a writers’ group in Arizona, where they live during the winter months. There, he took the advice from professional writers and others seeking to publish their works to get his book started. He spent three years writing Stealing Watermelons and, after many rejections, he published the novel with North Star Press of St. Cloud. “Writing a book is the fun part, but only about a third of the process,” Plocher says.
Finding a publishing company and promoting the book has kept this new author very busy over the last year. Traveling around Minnesota, Plocher shared his personal story about creating the book, as well as the fictional story inside the book. Stealing Watermelons has been well-received and the reviews very positive, including being added to KSTP/ESPN-AM Radio host Joe Soucheray’s annual reading list. “This is a great story,” says Corinne Dwyer of North Star Press. “I laughed, I cried, I cringed when a character was clearly going to make the wrong choice or the right one for a wrong reason, and I cheered when she or he got a clue.”
The book is also getting high praise on Amazon with readers enjoying the characters and the twists and turns along the way. According to one reader’s review: “The relationships were honest, the band of brothers holding each to their own truth, while making room for one another as well. Each of them took very different paths, guided by their individual histories and circumstance. It was a history lesson, as well as a human lesson.”
This book is just the start for Plocher. Stealing Watermelons really cries out for a sequel, he says, and he’s started work on the second installment—its working title is Watermelon Seeds. “Life is a risk/reward journey,” Plocher likes to say about Stealing Watermelons, “with the alternative of risk/failure a distinct possibility.”
With the success of his first book, Plocher can count this as another reward on his journey.