Thursday, November 8, 2012

Talk to the Hat: Charles Wells

JD  My guest today sitting in the chair is Charles Wells, author of the ‘Whispering Pines’ mystery series. Hi, Charles, and welcome to the Dubai dungeon.

The Guest's Chair
CW  “Welcome”? I get off the plane and this weird-looking thing hog ties me and tosses me into the back of an unmarked van. And have you noticed that nobody around here speaks English?

JD  I have. And the van, that’s part of our security procedures. Along with the chloroform.

CW  And what IS that thing, anyway?

JD  Oh, don’t mind Digby. That's the lab experiment with the mongoose brain that Travis Luedke met while he was here.

CW  That’s Digby? I thought it was Travis Luedke after being exposed to your interview.

JD  No, it's Digby although he doesn’t have the mongoose brain at the moment. Travis took that.

CW  Whose brain does Digby have then? ... Travis’ brain?

JD  He didn’t seem to be using it, so yes.

CW  How’s that working out?

JD  Digby keeps biting things and trying to hump the furniture, but otherwise OK.

CW  Yeah, my brother-in-law gets drunk and does that a lot.

JD  How was your flight over from Atlanta?

CW  It wasn't too bad. As we were taking off I thought I saw several parts of the plane falling away but we were airborne and all seemed okay, so I went to sleep. About a half hour later, the flight attendant woke me up and said, "The pilot and crew are the last ones to leave the plane." I asked, "Why are you waking me up to tell me this?"  She said, "Because they jumped ten minutes ago."

JD  Interesting, Charles. Unbelievable of course, but interesting. Now let’s move on to more literary topics. Like your writing, for example. By the way, do you find your deafness is a handicap in being a writer?

CW  Huh? What?

JD  I said ... oh, yes, very funny, Charles. Hilarious. Laugh at this.

CW  Hey! This dang chair just shocked the crap out of me! That really hurts.

JD  It’s meant to. It’s an electric chair. God, you Americans are slow sometimes. Tell me about your deafness.

CW  I'm deaf?  Oh my God, when did this happen?

(electricity arcing sounds)

CW  Okay, uh, let me think a second. (extended silence)

(electricity arcing sounds)

Charles looking his best
CW  The one misconception about being deaf is that all deaf people hear nothing but silence, which is hog wash. I'm nerve deaf which means I hear fingernails raking down a chalkboard 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In the days before I received this Cochlear Implant unit, my writing distracted me from all that commotion in my head, probably saved my life because many people with this problem can't sleep for days at a time.

JD  I'm sure Digby could let you have his ears if you like.

CW  Uh, no, that's okay. Actually, I'm no longer considered totally deaf thanks to a group of Australian doctors working over the last 50 plus years to make deafness a thing of the past. They designed the "Cochlear Implant" I just mentioned and then started looking for human guinea pigs to test it. When the Aussies backed off, they turned to the folks in the USA. So in 1987 the FDA (Food and Drug association in the United States) cleared them to do the first 22 channel implants and ensuing clinical trials on 500 deaf patients. I was number 105 at the time. Today, I'm told that I could be the longest running 22 channel Cochlear implant unit on earth.

JD  It's amazing actually that ears as large as yours don't work.

CW  Oh they work great for holding my glasses on my face and in a jam, they make good pencil holders.

JD  You spent most of your career in journalism, I believe, Charles. So did you spend a lot of time hanging around outside bedroom windows trying to take incriminating photographs?

CW  That's where you and I first met, I believe. Wasn't that you next to me outside the Watergate Hotel in DC back in 1972?

JD  Of course not, I wasn't even born in 1972.

CW  Then you’ve got a twin. Maybe even two.

JD  What’s your favourite vegetable?

CW  (Awkward and silent pause)

JD  Okay, I was thinking about bedrooms and then vegetables just suddenly popped into my mind.

CW  Let's keep this rated PG if possible. What did Digby say was his favourite vegetable?

JD  A pumpkin.

CW  Pumpkin’s a fruit, not a vegetable.

JD  Did I mention that Travis and Digby switched brains?

Book 1 of the series
CW  (Long pause) If you must know, I like purple hull peas. I grew up planting, picking, and eating them. They are tough to beat for taste and are good for you. I also like apples.

JD  Apples are a fruit, not a vegetable.

CW  Let's not haggle over moot issues.

JD  Fair enough. What was your most memorable experience as a journalist?

CW  We gone back to that now? You jump about a bit.

JD  Yeah, and you’ll be jumping about a bit if you don’t answer the question.

CW  I think if one were to put a highlight on my career in news then 9/11 would be the worst day of my life and yet the best as well.  I was on duty in the MSNBC/ Don Imus internet chat rooms when the first plane hit the towers. At the time I was in charge of both Imus chat and MSNBC News chat as well.  Fortunately, one of the people in the chat was a regular visitor and retired Navy Fighter Pilot. (F4 off Navy Carriers) I sent him a private message asking if he thought the first crash was an accident. I mean, clear day, no reason for a giant airplane to run into the building by accident. His response was, "Oh hell no. That can't be an accident." I called my boss who lived 4 blocks away from the World Trade Center and asked for additional help running the chats because I was sure that all hell was about to break loose. When the second plane struck, it did break loose and I found myself in charge of 2500 chatters (and growing fast). Many months after that nightmare, I was given several awards and citations for my work that day and the article I wrote about it was nominated for several prestigious awards as well. I was proud of how the visitors to those chats stayed cool enough to be dealt with by one set of eyes and computer. Soon enough my co-workers arrived and the rest is history for NBC.

JD  Tell me about the ‘Whispering Pines’ thriller/mystery series. You’ve now written ... nine books, is that right?

CW  Nine published and book ten is in edit mode as we speak.

 JD  Where did the idea for the series come from?

CW  The initial Book 1 idea came from my experience trying to save a 140-year-old family cemetery from destruction from a land greedy rich family. (This is no joke) While writing Book 1 I realized there were too many sub plots involved so I ripped those out and they became Book 2. Same thing happened with that book and the spill over became Book 3 ... right on down the line to 10. Book 11 is in first draft and yes, it's an assortment of plots from Books 9 and 10 that made those books too large.

JD  I really enjoyed the first book in the series. The opening chapter was a real belter. After that I was hooked. I’m not going to do a spoiler here, but it was pretty gripping.

CW  Thanks. You said that exactly as I wrote it.

JD  That will be $25.

CW  Well worth it.

Coming January 2013
JD  Alternatively, you can just send me the second book. I will work my way through the series in time, as I know lots of your fans are doing. Are any of the characters based on real people? (Whispers) Well, I know we’re not supposed to say that, but say it anyway.

CW  Every character has a real person behind it. A few of them have several characters melded into one person. The two brothers, Matt and Chuck Veal, are based on me and my three brothers and friends. All are high moral good ole' southern folks.

JD  “Catfish” was my favourite character. I’m guessing he turns up again?

CW  Catfish is more well liked than Festus in the old US TV western series, "Gunsmoke." He's in Book 1 and he is in the draft of Book 11 as we speak.

JD  I know you also do cartoons, don’t you, you sly old dog. What’s that about?

CW  I love to make people smile and laugh. On Twitter I'm considered the village idiot of sorts as you well know. I worked a few years with a small TV station here in my home town and Talk Show Cartoons is a spin off from that experience. I give them away because I enjoy making folks laugh.

 JD  Now is there any more outrageous self-promotion you’d like to do while you’re here?

CW  Naw, I think I’m done.

JD  OK, I’ll get Digby to unstrap you. Where is he? Digby! Digby! Stop doing that to the furniture!

CW  Ugh. That’s gonna leave a stain.

JD  Yeah. Tell you what, you can take Travis’ brain back to the US with you. I’ve got a jiffy bag somewhere. I think I prefer Digby with the mongoose brain.

CW  I know the mongoose would appreciate getting the higher IQ back.

You can learn more about Charles Wells and his writing by clicking on the links below.

Book One in Charles' suspense/thriller series ('The Beginning') is available at and ... and it's currently FREE on Smashwords!

If you've read 'The Beginning' (and if not, WHY NOT? Go get it now!), how would you like a FREE copy of Book Two, 'The Revenge'? Then go to Smashwords any time on 9-12 November by clicking HERE  When you BUY, enter Coupon code XG25G and IT'S FREE! Choose your preferred file format, download and start reading.

Book Ten in the 'Whispering Pines' series - 'Demon and the Dog' - will be published by Wellston Publishing in January 2013.

Amazon US
Website & Blog
Twitter    or  @Charles_E_Wells


  1. John and Charles, thanks for the laugh, gentlemen. Great interrogation :)

  2. Nice to have the feedback, Monica. Unfortunately, Charles can't talk right now, he's trying to stop his hair from sticking up. And his ears from sticking out. No chance of the latter of course.

  3. Oh, do shut up Charles, there's a good fellow.

  4. You nuts are guys, I mean, er ... either that or mongeese. (Do they fly south in the winter?)

  5. Hey, those are brave words Tim. Especially when you consider we know your address in York. And mongeese don't fly south for the winter. You're confusing them with penguins.

  6. What a great way to interrogate. Thanks Jon and Charles. It was very funny.

  7. Thanks Deniz. Charles is nodding too. He can't talk because he's stuffing his mouth with apples. We must all be grateful for small mercies.

    1. I can't wait to get the old booger on a plane out of here actually. He's cramping my style.

  8. Thanks for a great interview, John. You did some fine work in making Charles not seem as weird as he does on Twitter. Quite an accomplishment.

  9. JD Charles, weird? Whatever gave you that idea, Claude? For Charles to be weird he would need to be functioning mentally. Isn't that right Charles?


    JD I rest my case.

  10. Too funny, and informative. I learned something new about Charles. Great job guys.

  11. Good one, big guy and thanks for the early morning laugh!