“When the Men Were Gone” author shares the inspiration behind her book

Author Marjorie Lewis animatedly addresses a room of people at Fabled Bookstore, talking about the inspiration behind her novel. Preston Gossett | Reporter

By Preston Gossett | Reporter

Author Marjorie Lewis spoke at Fabled Bookshop & Cafe on Tuesday night about her debut novel “When the Men Were Gone,” and signed copies of her book for attendees.

Lewis was the first female sportswriter and beat reporter of the Dallas Cowboys for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, as well a former writer for the Dallas Morning News.

Her novel tells the story of Tylene Wilson, one of the first women in the nation to become a high school football coach. During Lewis’ presentation at Fabled, she shared how she discovered Wilson and where her research ultimately led her. She also said she realized that a lot of the old records about Wilson were destroyed.

“How could I write a biography, because I don’t have specific facts that I would need to write a biography,” Lewis said. “I was at a crossroad and decided I wanted the world to know what Tylene did, and I wanted to memorialize it because it was just such a sacrifice and she was such a strong human being.”

Lewis said that she just happened to find out about Wilson when she ran into one of her family members at the doctor’s office. Wilson ultimately became a football coach because she wanted to keep the boys at home so that they could finish their childhood before being shipped off to fight in World War II.

Wilson’s story is one about resiliency, and Lewis said she couldn’t let herself and her family be the only people who learned about it. Lewis wanted to write a fictionalized account and create her own moments within the true story in order to commemorate what Wilson did.

“It’s the story of a wonderful husband and wife relationship, a wonderful father and daughter relationship, and in a lot of ways I understood her because our lives parallel in many ways,” Lewis said. “I have a great husband who is so supportive of my crazy ideas, and my father and I, to this day, still play catch together.”

Chuck Lewis has been married to Marjorie Lewis for 38 years, and she said he was responsible for coming up with the title she used for her novel— “When the Men Were Gone.” Chuck Lewis said he loved reading her articles because he always felt like she transported him to different places with her writing.

“She has this knack for writing ⁠— she puts you right there, and you’re looking around and you’re in the story,” Chuck Lewis said. “She has this gift of storytelling and describing a situation.”

Marjorie Lewis got a call on Tuesday from a screenplay writer interested in turning her novel into a movie, and they already had their eyes on a few actors and actresses to play the parts. Chuck Lewis said it still doesn’t feel real; he said it feels like a fairy tale, but that he couldn’t be happier for her.

“There are a lot of reasons to make excuses not to [do something],” Marjorie Lewis said. “Throw all of those away, and if there is something that you want to do, I say do it. Just go do it.”

Lewis also said that we’re our biggest obstacle. Fabled event coordinator Tami Davis agreed with Lewis and said that if there’s something you really want to do, you just have to do it.

“When things are supposed to happen, they just happen,” Davis said. “That is just serendipitous and meant to be.”