This trademark picture of John Dolan might lead one’s imagination to suspect that this is a man of daring, perhaps out on safari facing the giants of the animal kingdom, a man of mystery and intrigue. One could look at this image and consider the man under the hat either very timid, or, suspiciously avoiding recognition… I had some other scary thoughts about this man when he interviewed me some months back at his ‘Dubai Dungeon’ with an odd. hulking gray-skinned Cyclop assistant named Digby — hmm! wonder whatever became of Digby (haven’t heard of him in months). Anyway, the Dubai Dungeon was a bit like the hat – deceiving. Actually, John’s blog is called ‘Galericulate’ (defined as ‘covered, as with a hat.’) You can always visit him at Galericulate at http://johndolanwriter.blogspot.com. The interview of me was indeed original, witty, and also very informative, showing the different shades of John Dolan. (I shall include that interview at the end of this post – for your pleasure, I hope!)
The man under the hat is British, living now in Thailand with his lovely wife, Fiona, and family. He is one of the best authors I’ve ever read. Hence, the reason for this post. John Dolan wrote “Everyone Burns,” book one of his trilogy, ‘Time, Blood, and Karma mystery series,’ and it is a superb, thrilling read about a worn down detective, David Braddock, fighting not only himself but the underbelly crowd of Thailand. Some charred remains of Europeans are discovered on the Thai island of Samui, and this starts the non-stop action…and Braddock’s efforts are definitely not helped by his having an affair with the Police Chief’s wife… But I will say no more here about “Everyone Burns” except that it has a multitude of 5-Star reviews and is one of my all-time favorite books.
What I really want to write about here are two things: 1) Book Two of the trilogy, “Hungry Ghosts” and 2) The man under the hat.
1) “Hungry Ghosts” – Unfortunately, I can’t say a lot about book two in the ‘Time, Blood, and Karma Series’ except that it is COMING OUT VERY SOON, and I shall be one of the first to buy when available. “Hungry Ghosts” has been written, has gone through most of the final editing phase, and I’m guessing it will be out within the next few weeks. One thing I know, having had the titillating experience of reading Book One, “Everyone Burns,” I’m like the proverbial kid in the candy store… Yes, John Dolan will do that to you! Please be on the lookout for “Hungry Ghosts” – it will be my personal promise to you that your reading appetite will be craving more from this man.
2) The man under the hat is not only my friend but he is a man of profound wisdom and wit. He is also an excellent poet, in the mold of the great English Romantics who gave me impetus to become a wordsmith, to play in the sand pile of words, to create stories that were uniquely my own, to turn phrases that could either bring me to a smile or bring a tear to my eye, to make me more aware of who I really am. The writing process does that for me and I make no pretense at greatness for my books, but I like them. John Dolan, I’m reasonably sure, feels much the same way about his writing as I do of my own. The difference between our writings? My tales tend to be gritty and simple tales, some inspired by true events. John’s writing brings an extra dimension which causes me some envy – he has the capacity to maintain a scholarly tint to his prose, to make a metaphor seem golden, to entertain a reader in a masterful display of diction and delirious fun. John Dolan is a master wordsmith who can be a Mickey Spillane, a John Grisham, a Nelson DeMille, a John LeCarre… Guess what I’m trying to say is that John Dolan is literary and he is one hundred percent real (the masses will love him as will the literary folks.)
You can follow John Dolan on twitter (@JohnDolanAuthor) and on Facebook.
You can preview “Everyone Burns” at http://www.goo.gl/vvXdh
You can find ‘Galericulate’ at http://johndolanwriter.blogspot.com (watch for his announcement of Book two, “Hungry Ghosts”)
Now, that interview I promised follows…Talk to the Hat: Billy Ray Chitwood (from John Dolan’s archives at http://johndolanwriter.blogspot.com
JD My guest today in the Dubai Dungeon is Billy Ray Chitwood, author of several books, the most recent of which is ‘What Happens Next? A Life’s True Tale’. Welcome!
BR Where am I? How did I get here?
JD You’re in Dubai, BR. You’re here through a process that’s known as ‘Rendition’, I believe. It involves the use of secrecy, incapacitating drugs and a private aircraft.
BR Why am I hung up by chains in a damn Arabic basement?
JD Technically this is not a basement, it’s a dungeon. Anyway, I’m working on a budget. The electric chair has broken down so this is the best I can do at short notice. Ha! That was a pun. “Short”.
BR Yeah, yeah, very funny.
JD Digby, get the cattle prod.
(Sounds of electricity arcing)
BR Holy crap.
JD Nice to see something still works in this damn place. OK, BR, I want to talk to you about your life. Particularly as there may not necessarily be much of it left. But first I’m going to read you some of my poems.
BR Couldn’t I just have the cattle prod instead?
(Sounds of electricity arcing)
BR Thank you.
JD According to my secret dossier you’re from the Appalachians, East Tennessee. Which makes you another damn American. What’s that place like? They got indoor toilets and shoes there yet?
BR Well, yeah, now they do! When I was In Oswego Bottom, we had an old unpainted clapboard house, kerosene lamps and an outhouse … sure hated to make the ‘number two’ trip in the dark of night. The Sears catalog pages were not too functional … Must have had shoes but damned if I can remember them. Went barefoot a lot on the old country roads and cut my toes on discarded fruit jars – the old timers used fruit jars for their moonshine, or ‘white lightning.’
JD Sounds ghastly. I’ve always thought the difference between Tennessee and yoghurt is that yoghurt is a living culture. But, hey, what do I know? I’m only an educated Englishman after all.
BR Can I disagree with that last statement?
JD Of course.
(Sounds of electricity arcing)
JD I’m interested to know how you started off in life with no shoes and ended up as a writer.
BR I never said I had no shoes as a kid! Just don’t remember them …
JD Shut up. I’m trying to make you sound interesting here. Tell Dr John about your life.
BR Lots of mobility, divorced parents who fought a lot, literally. Lived for a time with my paternal grandparents (Oswego Bottom – AKA Wooldridge). Lived for a time in state-run institutions – we were poor and Mom had a rough time keeping my sister and me with her. Life became somewhat normal for me during junior and senior high school. Mom worked as a boarding house cook for some time but her real love was the Bell Telephone company, where she retired. The Southern Baptist influence was heavy. There was a ton of emotional stuff to get through. At Seventeen, I joined the US Navy to get away from it all. That’s when a misdirected kid came ‘not very well’ of age. The adult world collided with my emotions and I sort of went crazy: married too soon, had kids, divorced, hit the gin mills and met some very pretty ladies. Managed somehow to get a college degree, worked with some major textbook publishers, owned a business, and was even able to do some acting on stage, film, and television … To sum it up for you: I ate some emotional soup in my youth and I’ve spent a lifetime trying to digest it. Shall I sing a chorus from “All The Girls I’ve Loved?”
JD Not unless you want Digby to use the prod again. OK. Tell me about your Bailey Crane mystery books. And don’t be boring about it.
BR Five books in the series, three inspired by actually crimes. The first book, “An Arizona Tragedy – A Bailey Crane Mystery,” is about the brutal murder of a young actress and mother. In real life this lovely lady happened to be a friend of mine, actually got me into acting, was also a secretary to a couple of my attorney friends in Phoenix … Sorry, I’m rambling, trying to get my mind off these infernal chains …
JD It’s alright. I’m only half-listening anyway.
BR Anyway, Bailey Crane is a transplanted southern fellow and mirrors a bit of my own life. Bailey tells the stories with his simple plot lines, fuses and muses about his own life experiences. Book 2, “Satan’s Song -ABCM”, deals with a decapitation murder in Phoenix, again inspired by a true crime. (Put the prod down! I’m getting boring.) Suffice, the five books deal with Bailey Crane’s life as he chases the bad guys. The books can be read independently of each other, but each book does show the natural progression through the years of Bailey Crane. Book 4 in the series, “Murder In Pueblo Del Mar – ABCM”, was inspired by an actual murder of a mother in Mexico while on family holiday. The story involves the husband/father and his relationship with a transsexual lover. The book is a fictional account but with some truth and author embellishment. Books 3 and 5 in the Bailey Crane Series (“The Brutus Gate – ABCM” and “A Soul Defiled – ABCM” respectively) have no basis in true crime, but good reads if I do say so. Sorry to be so boring –
JD As well you should be. (Yawns, and thinks about electricity)
BR - but the Bailey Crane books gave me the chance to explore some dimensions of myself. I call my writing therapy for the soul.
JD I want to talk about “Mama’s Madness”, a book of yours I read and reviewed recently. But this is serious talk, so I don’t want you dangling from chains. Digby! Lower Mr Chitwood down and sit him on a crate.
BR Thank you. You can be a really difficult person to ‘hang around’.
JD You’re welcome. I feel a little more dignity and decorum is required at this point. Oh, and Digby bring the bucket of maggots for Mr Chitwood’s feet.
BR Is that necessary?
JD My lawyers insist.
BR Ugh. They’re warm. They’re alive!
JD Of course they are. You think I’d use dead maggots? What sort of a host do you think I am?
BR A psychotic one, actually. No wonder you liked “Mama’s Madness”.
JD Great book! And a brave one for an Indie writer. Tough and unsentimental. Well, more ‘mental’ than ‘sentimental’. For those who haven’t read it, it’s a tale of southern lowlifes, and a central character Tamatha Preen who is basically a no-holds-barred psychopath that tortures and murders her own children.
BR Your type of woman, I’d guess.
JD I’m going to let that one go. It’s based on some real-life events which I believe happened in Northern California?
BR Yes, “Mama’s Madness” deals with an evil mother’s hold on her children. It deals with dark closet punishments, beatings, forced prostitution, unbelievable acts, and three murders. It was a book difficult to write because most of us are unwilling to accept the fact that people like Tamatha Preen (a fictional name), that this kind of evil does indeed exist. Although “Mama’s Madness” has its sordid disbelief it is one of my favorite writing accomplishments.
JD Tell me, BR, what is your favourite book of all time?
BR That would likely be, “You Can’t Go Home Again” by Thomas Wolfe.
(JD nods at Digby. Sounds of electricity arcing)
BR “The General’s Daughter” by Nelson DeMille.
(JD nods at Digby. Sounds of electricity arcing)
BR OUCH! Okay, okay, my true favorite is, “Everyone Burns” by John Dolan?
JD Now you’re getting it. Tell me about your latest book. And be quick about it, I’m getting hungry.
BR “What Happens Next? A Life’s True Tale” is non-fiction, about me, about my memories of east Tennessee, about my wanderlust, about a marriage that happened too fast, about the kids I cherish, about some of the loves of my life, about the neon lights and gin mills of California and Arizona, piano bars, pretty ladies, and about my faith. The book is an honest look at my mistakes, about my joys and triumphs, and about the remarkable wife, Julie Anne, with whom I get to spend the rest of my life. This non-fiction book is a ‘brother’ to my first book, “The Cracked Mirror – Reflections of an Appalachian Son”, a fictional memoir which is ninety per cent true and covers some of the same ground. I even explore a family murder and a family suicide.
JD Had enough of the maggots yet?
BR I sure have.
JD Good, because I think they’ve had enough of you.
END OF INTERVIEW.
Follow Billy Ray on: http://billyraychitwood.weebly.com
On: amazon.com and amazon.co.uk