Sunday, October 12, 2014

Author Interview: Billy Ray Chitwood: The Most Exhilarating Success Has Been My Writing Eleven Books

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 awhile. 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 that something that was missing in those long ago days.

Now, don't get me wrong. With the mistakes, which you can read about later, there were successes and honorable service to my country in the US Navy. The successes, in my way of thinking, were: 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 has been my writing eleven books. The writing has 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. Sure, the critics, even I, will still find the occasional errata that most writers disdain. There is nothing, however, that has given me more pleasure than turning a phrase that says everything I want it to say, to re-read a passage that brings back some emotional echoes.

So, you have a short bio glimpse of Billy Ray Chitwood, an Appalachian kid who ate some emotional soup and spent a lifetime trying to digest it. For another sketch, please go to and 

Your real name and pen name?
Billy Ray Chitwood is the real name and the pen name.

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood.
When the mobility and poverty lessened, weekends at my maternal grandparents provided the joys of homemade ice cream, watermelon, and playing 'catch' with my favorite Uncle Stanley.

About your education?
Majored in English at Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA...thanks to Sears and the GI Bill.

What career did you plan during your education days?
The goal was to become an attorney but it was not to be... Taught high school English briefly, then into sales and marketing.

What languages can you speak and write?
English and Spanish...poquito!

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life?
The beauty of nature and the goodness of Humankind that bypasses the evil among us.

What hurts you most in this world?
The aforementioned 'evil' and terrorism.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it?
A restless spirit... Still with me but writing provides abatement.

If you had to live a day of your life as an alive or dead personality, who would it be?
Ronald Reagon...because of  the strength of his oratory as an actor and politician.

What is your favorite genre and why?
Fiction/mystery...because the characters can act and muse at my direction, can be young or old, can be who I wish them to be - hero or villain.

When did you start writing? Your purpose? Your regimen?
Early in life, much of it poetry at the beginning - trying to capture an emotion, a feeling... My purpose for writing is to convey in the lines and between the lines some shadowy caricature of  myself, to discover parts of me I've never before considered... I write with no particular schedule in mind and I try to write something everyday.

Which works have been published so far? What is in progress?
Twelve books are on Amazon Global - two romances with some mystery and suspense - six 'Bailey Crane Mysteries' (some inspired by true crimes) - two memoirs - one political 'rant and rave' - one mystery/suspense novel titled "Mama's Madness" inspired by an actual mother from hell who abused and killed some of her children... ALL my books can be found and previewed on my website: --- from which I took my intro...
Currently I am writing a historical book that deals with my maternal grandfather - a true saint of a man. 

What is your Zodiac sign and what are some personal likes?
Aries is my sign... I'm a sun worshiper... My favorite snack is a McDonald's fish sandwich... I love London, Rome, Barcelona, and the Sea of Cortez in Mexico... My favorite book is "The General's Daughter" by Nelson DeMille - because it has, in my opinion, all the marvelous ingredients of a good mystery... I'm currently reading Charles Krauthammer;s "Things That Matter"... I love freedom and liberty...I like short drives... I love the sea... I love the rolling hills... I like the color of soft blue...I love sunsets and a glass of wine... I love my wife...

What are your first thoughts when India is mentioned?
Wisdom first and foremost...and an awesome nostalgia for a past of which I'm so poorly acquainted.

What three words come to mind for each: Technology, Life, God, Humanity, Terrorism, Racism, Childhood Abuse, Love, Parenting, Old Age?
Technology: laptops, microwaves, television.
Life: breathing, nature, God.
God: life, nature, salvation.
Humanity: smiles, help, goodness.
Terrorism: anger, hopelessness, darkness.
Racism: oneness, exaggerated, humanity.
Childhood Abuse: awful, emotional, stifling.
Love: man, woman, children.
Parenting: discipline, love, guidance.
Old Age: today, yesterday, tomorrow.

What is your favorite quote?
Life is really simple. People insist on making it complicated.

Title of your autobiography?
The Cracked Mirror - Reflections of an Appalachian Son 

What are your relevant links and other details?
An Arizona Tragedy (1) - Bailey Crane Mystery = B005G828GK
Satan's Song (2) - Bailey Crane Mystery = B006WU22KS
The Brutus Gage (3) - Bailey Crane Mystery = B006WW3RFU
Murder in Pueblo Del Mar (4) - Bailey Crane Mystery = B006WWOODM
A Soul Defiled (5) - Bailey Crane Mystery = B005G84ACK
A Common Evil (6) - NEW! - Bailey Crane Mystery = B00LD7FUB8
Butterflies & Jellybeans - A Love Story (romance/suspense) = B006WU22RQ
Mama's Madness (mystery/suspense) = B00HPZ3Y4C
The Reluctant Savage (mystery/suspense) = B00EW5BFRQ
 Joe Public's Political Perspective (Govt.) = B00HQ526RW
The Cracked Mirror - Reflections of an Appalachian Son (memoir) = B004ZGWQY8
What Happens Next? A Life's True Tale (memoir) = B0097EIOM6
The above twelve books all appear in paperback on Amazon US and UK. I have given the the E-Book identifiers. 
Pictures of the book covers appear on and various author pictures are also available.
The most recent novel is: A Common Evil
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