Word Warrior Turns to Crime To Write the Last Chapter of a Successful Career

Chuck Snearly (WSU BA '76)

A writing career that began nearly 50 years ago as a South End reporter is still going strong for Chuck Snearly ('76).

"I had a great time writing for the student newspaper and it led to a 40 plus years career as a journalist, communications consultant and speechwriter," says Snearly. "Now I'm returning to the scene of the crime, so to speak, writing mysteries that are set on the Wayne State campus."

After an internship at the Detroit News, Snearly worked as reporter for several newspapers before joining Ford Motor Company. He worked in public relations at Ford for 30 years, including 14 years as Chief Speechwriter, writing more than 1,000 speeches for senior executives.

"The highlight of my time at Ford was writing speeches for Executive Chairman Bill Ford," says Snearly. "Helping him articulate his 'Better World' vision of corporate social and environmental responsibility was a privilege and a pleasure."

In 2007 Snearly formed his own communications consulting company, Speech Right, Inc. Over the years he has won numerous awards writing speeches, annual reports, web content, video scripts, press releases, brochures, ad copy and more. In 2010 he added a non-fiction book, Speech Right, to his list of achievements.

"Speech Right is a how-to book for writing speeches," says Snearly. "It's for speechwriters with any level of experience, from first timer to experienced professional, but it's gotten a lot of use as a college textbook."

In 2015 Snearly turned to crime to write his first novel, The Guardian of Detritus.

"Growing up I loved reading Sherlock Holmes stories, and later on I became a huge Elmore Leonard fan," Snearly says. "When I decided to write a novel I knew it would include crime and mystery, and I knew it would be set in Detroit. As it turns out, a lot of the action happens in and around Wayne State."

Snearly's second crime novel, Far Out Man, was published in May. It also is centered on Wayne State.

"The main character in Far Out Man is a Wayne professor who specializes in literature from the 1960s," Snearly says. "He loses his job and dies, then things really get bad for him."

Far Out Man has received excellent reviews, with Indie Reader calling it "brilliant fiction" and Kirkus Reviews declaring it "A highly entertaining mystery powered by exceptional character development." Snearly is pleased with the response to his latest novel but not ready to quit his day job just yet.

"I like to tell people I'm making a career transition from successful speechwriter to struggling novelist," he says. "It's been a wonderful writing life so far, I think becoming an author would be a great way to finish it."

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