Thursday, December 6, 2012

Talk to the Hat: Billy Ray Chitwood

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.


Billy Ray is discounting by 50% copies of his book "An Arizona Tragedy - A Bailey Crane Mystery" exclusively through Galericulate. During the period 6-11 December click HERE  This will take you to where you 'buy' the book. At checkout enter coupon code ZV49H and it's only $1.50! Choose your preferred e-book format, download and get reading.

You can learn more than you'd probably like to know about Billy Ray Chitwood by clicking on the links below:

Latest Book on Amazon "What Happens Next? A Life's True Tale"  USA  UK

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads Author Page

Billy Ray's Website

Twitter                     @brchitwood

BLOG-SCRATCHERS CORNER - Other Blogs You Might Want To Check Out

Jan Berghoef. "The Berghoef Daily" - get your diurnal fix of all that's new in science and much more besides

Eden Baylee. Poetic writer of exotic, erotic stories and cartographer of desire


  1. Firstly, thanks John for the mention of me, very kind of you. As for your interview with Mr. Chitwood -- I really think you two need to take the show on the road.

    A dungeon would contain neither of you for long, and someone would certainly get hurt.

    Nice to learn a bit about Billy Ray in the process, and I'll be sure to share his special discount with my followers.

    Cheers gentlemen,

  2. Thanks Eden. It's not often we have lady visitors dropping by the Dungeon (mainly because Digby tends to eat them), but it's lovely to have feedback.
    Billy Ray sends his regards, or at least he would do if he were conscious.

  3. Thanks S. And may I say you are looking particularly charming today?

  4. Love it!! (as usual) I had to share it around.

  5. Good!!! Looking forward to having you in the chair soon, Angella. Well, not "having you" in the chair obviously. Oh, I don't know though ... Do you like Hats? :-)

  6. Replies
    1. Yes, thanks Charles. We always value your contributions. They're so ... insightful.

  7. To dare to define John Dolan's Galericulate: It is a place where great minds meet and the seeds of destiny are distributed. Beware an invisible implantation will occur if you continue to read on. These seeds begin to grow and nag deep inside of you daily and you can't help but find yourself coming back for more! In my opinion where greatness is unleashed upon readers who continually excavate and peer through one mind into other minds of extreme talent. It is one revved up Ferrari to be a passenger in. So hold on if you can and dare to take the ride if you will? My very Best Regards, Kerriann

  8. Thank you Kerriann, elegantly written and outrageously ego-boosting. This gets my vote for Blog Comment of the Year 2012. I need to create a new category in the annual "Galericulate Get A Head Awards" to accommodate you!

  9. Thank You ever so much John. It's better to have the ego booster at full capacity because all around the Blogberry Bush their lurks the ever nasty ego popping weasel. Stay AWAKE & keep it coming and by the way no pressure intended just like no batteries are required for the chair. Nowadays technology has self charging tools. Yours faithfully, Kerriann

  10. No pressure, eh Kerriann? Ha. I wish. For your information I'm looking into investing in a solar-powered chair as we have plenty of the sun-stuff here in Dubai. The only difficulty is that it won't work at night, so I won't be able to interview any more vampires.
    Maybe I should buy a rack too?

  11. Only if it spins like wheel of fortune.I can see it now... Digby the new Vanna white.

  12. Digby's not going to be the new anything unless he gets me a decent Xmas present this year. Last year it was something he brought in from the garden :-)

  13. Poor Digby he tries, Tis better to give than receive. Oh by the way thank you again for the vote for blog comment of the year 2012 made my day you did! Stay well and look forward to this year ahead!
    Best Regards,