Today I’m pleased to introduce Billy Chitwood, an author with an wide range of amazing books.
Hello Billy. Thank you for being my guest today. Please tell us about your writing history. When was the first time you decided to write and when was the first time you did?
If I discount the silly childhood poetry and the ‘Act 2 poor me’ period, I started writing with some seriousness in the 1980s… An actress friend of mine was brutally murdered and was left for weeks in the Arizona desert to be ravaged by the heat and denizens. An Arizona Tragedy – A Bailey Crane Mystery – Book 1 was inspired by her murder. (As a side note, I earlier wrote Probable Cause about the murder of this lovely lady and mother – that book was published and went out of print.) So, my first serious writing was with Probable Cause. Four of the ‘Bailey Crane Mysteries’ were inspired by true events.
Did anyone influence you / encourage you to become a writer?
No one in particular… In college I was drawn to the English Romantic poets – Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Coleridge, Lord Byron – and the American ‘Naturalists’ – Jack London, Steven Crane, Frank Norris, Theodore Dreiser… I also felt a kinship with Thomas Wolfe and Edgar Allen Poe. Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Pasternak were also important influences. So many names come to mind.
When did you decide to write in your chosen genre(s)?
In the 1980s, some years after my actress friend was murdered. I’m still amazed, saddened, and shocked by the crime and evil among us.
Tell us about the concept behind your books. How did you get the idea?
I’m not sure my answer will be adequate, but, with the Bailey Crane Mystery Series, I wanted Bailey and his alter ego to give me clues to myself. I’ve never believed enough in psychiatrists to relax on their sofas and answer their endless questions. So, writing for me is therapy – I know where I’ve been, know the impact the past has had on me, and getting lost in my books the characters and narrative give me some insight. As I’ve said time and again I find pieces of me on and between the lines of what I write…
What is your life like outside of writing?
Outside of writing there is Julie Anne, a Bengal cat named George, and our routines. I don’t overdo it but there is some time given to exercise. There are the rolling bluegrass hills of Kentucky that I periodically lift my eyes from the laptop to gaze out upon. There are friends and dinner gatherings. There are the concerts that are beautifully presented by the Mid-Kentucky Art Group. There are books to read from my kindle library by authors I enjoy – soon, another book, The Gamblers, enters that library, to be read and reviewed… Life outside of writing is ‘laid back’ and mostly wonderful. The children and grandchildren add to the wonder. I love action movies, a la Clancy and Grisham. Golfing was once a favorite ‘like’ outside of writing, but the the body joints don’t particular want me playing.
What makes you laugh?
Sitcoms like ‘Mike and Molly’, ‘The Goldbergs’, and a good joke.
Who would you like to invite for dinner?
Vic Dougherty and her husband, John and Fiona Dolan, Eden Baylee, Christoph Fischer, and Dr. Timothy Tays – Tim is a clinical psychologist and a great writer: he could give me his analyses of our group over after-dinner Brandy or coffee.
What song would you pick to go with your book
Certainly, for one or two of my books, I would pick Sergei Rachmaninoff’sRhapsody on a Theme of Paganini – (“Somewhere in Time”)
What are you working on now?
A fictional novel, Stranger Abduction, is inspired by an Arizona mother and daughter disappearance some years ago. The case has never been solved. The mother and daughter walked three miles from their home to a rural store for cigarettes and ice cream, made it to the store but never returned home… The book hopefully will be out late this year.
Is there anything you would like us to know about yourself and your books?
Mama’s Madness – inspired by a true crime in California about a mother who tortures and kills two of her daughters and an ex-husband… This book has been optioned for a screenplay.
Also, ‘The Bailey Crane Mystery Series’ consists of; Book 1) AN ARIZONA TRAGEDY – Book2) Satan’s Song – Book 3) The Brutus Gate – Book 4) Murder in Pueblo del Mar – Book 5) A Soul Defiled – Book 6) A Common Evil. Books 1, 2, 4, and 6 are inspired by truth.
My Website links:
http://billyraychitwood.weebly.com (Bio and Books on ‘Home’ page
Member: #asmsg #IAN1
Never knew what it was in life that I really wanted to do…guess that had something to do with my Appalachian roots in East Tennessee, a broken family, and so much mobility. Saw a lot of cowboy movies as a kid and thought about acting for a while. Loved to sing and thought about being a singer. Being an actor or a singer meant there would be audiences, and I was a bashful boy who wasn’t too comfortable in crowds. Wanted to be a fireman. Wanted to be a cop. A professional golfer. A tennis pro. The ‘want list’ just kept changing.
You likely know where I’m going with this opening bio brevity. My dreams were fleeting because I was a fickle fellow whose roots never got too deep anywhere, any time. So, when those Tennessee hills were behind me and that big adult world opened up to me, well, it kind of overwhelmed me. There were so many Appalachian and bible belt emotions conflicting inside my heart and mind that made me easy and ready to make a lot of mistakes. Make them, surely did, too many to enumerate, and my guess is I’ve been blaming old Appalachia, the hills of Tennessee, the broken family, the mobility, all the emotions laid upon me, for this rather wanderlust life that I’ve been living. Guess I’ve always been chasing something that was missing in those long ago days.
Now, don’t get me wrong. With the mistakes, which you can read about later in some of my books, there were successes and honorable service to my country in the US Navy. The successes, in my way of thinking, were: my children, a college BA degree with a major in English; high school teaching; sales and marketing management positions with some of our top educational publishers; my own business; and, after several attempts, a wonderful wife and extended family. The most exhilarating success was in the writing of my twelve books. The writing allowed me to purposefully wander through some simple plot lines and characters’ lives to explore my own dimensions, to discover some things about myself I never really considered. Up front, I’ll state too brashly for some, my books are good, well written, and easy to read.
With careful candor I can say my life plays like a 3-Act play: Act 1 opens in post-depression Appalachia where a confused little boy eats a lot of emotional soup because of poverty, family displacement, abuse, and spends Acts 2 and 3 trying to digest that soup. Act 2 depicts a shy young hayseed entering the
US Navy and adult world of neon lights, gin mills, and pretty ladies where happiness and despair become strange bedfellows, producing sweet and sour poetry, songs, book beginnings without completion.
After my tour in the United States Navy, I work a few odd jobs, complete a college education, do some high school teaching, act in film productions, TV Commercials, and one stage play. After many years in the textbook publishing business, I own my own business.
As a kid I loved to string words together and writing has always been a part of my life…my proverbial escape hatch. I started several writing projects over the years and abandoned them. During Act 2 particularly I worked minimally and became a rather accomplished lotus-eater, maxed out on booze, ladies, and the California nightlife, got a lot of beach time, sun, and a marvelous California tan, wrote music and morose poetry.
Sometime during Act 3 I salvaged enough of my sanity and soul, found a most lovely, calm, compassionate, and patient lady named Julie Anne. We married, blended our wonderful children, made a good life, and I started and finished a few books on an eighty acre spread in southeast Arizona called ‘The Lazy Rabbit Ranch’…near the town ‘too tough to die’, Tombstone. Using an old Starwriter-60 word processor, I wrote six Bailey Crane Mysteries…there would be seven BC Mysteries but one was lost in a house move. (I am now re-creating that lost manuscript but not as a BC Mystery – the working title is Stranger Abduction. The Bailey Crane books stand alone and several are inspired by true events. It’s safe to say that Bailey is patterned much after me… He is a different kind of sleuth, does a lot of musing about his life and times while in search of the bad guys. The BC Mysteries are meant to be easy, fun reads – in the mystery/suspense/thriller genres…even some romance. I’ve been fascinated all my life by the criminal and evil elements among us – so I write about them… In truth, I would love to find the sustaining spark within me to write an uplifting human and spiritual novel.
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“What Happens Next? A Life’s True Tale”
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