In an earlier post, I reviewed Mama’s Madness by Billy Ray Chitwood. The following interview hopes to get more acquainted.
A story inspired by a northern California news account a few years ago … Some of the details in this fictional penning are true. Some of the details are exaggerated and are simply the work of the author’s imagination. What is clearly evidenced in this novel is the coldness of a mother’s heart and the madness of her cruelty. The mind cannot comprehend lives the children depicted here were forced to endure: from black punishment closets of hell, kitchen tables used for crudely performed operations, to a high sierra execution by fire. The terror is real. The pain is vicariously felt. Unbelievable? Yes, it is unbelievable that such depravity, such MAMA’S MADNESS exists in our world. Accept the embellishments with the truth.
Chitwood has an authentic voice articulating the world of the grifter and petty criminal hovering at the margins of society. The writing is gritty, laying bare the animal beneath the thin veneer of civilisation. Child abuse, theft, deception and murder all feature in an heady cocktail of corrupted morality – yet these topics are handled without sensationalism, and at times the novel has an almost journalistic feel to it. From Amazon Review by Diogenes
I received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, taught high school ‘Advanced Writing’ in Lorain, Ohio. I’ve served honorably and proudly in the United States Navy. My business life includes sales/marketing management positions with top textbook publishers. I’ve also been a model and an actor in film, stage, television. Although minimally, I’m still active in my own business as the CEO of Chitwood, Inc.
1. Why do you write?
To search for me, to satisfy my emotional needs, to respond to my soul.
2. What are you most afraid of? Does this inspire any part of your writing?
Myself! That perhaps I have not always lived in the best of ways… this inspires everything that I write – the blog posts, the books, the poems, the songs, and the scribbled notes in the dark of night.
3. What sources did you use in writing about the various locales in Mama’s Madness?
Only Google sources, newspaper accounts, and, of course, my mind — it is a fictional work, inspired by a mother’s evil, some of which is mentioned in the book. My fate for the fictional mother in MAMA’S MADNESS differs from California’s fate for the real mother.
4. Which of your secondary characters has been your favorite to develop?
Thomas Pierce, the youngest sibling.
5. Have you gotten emotional while writing? If so, what has been the most emotional part of your book to write?
Indeed, I’ve gotten emotional. It’s difficult for me to imagine how an author would not get emotional when writing about the abuse of children in such terrible ways. Other than certain minor character profiles and certain plot sequences, the most emotional parts of the book was the ‘closet Prologue,’ the forced sex episodes, and the ending scenes.
6. Are you completely happy with the third person POV you employed in Mama’s Madness?
In the end, MAMA’S MADNESS is a fictional book about some terrible subject matter. ‘Completely’ is so all encompassing, but I’m happy with the style, the ‘POV,’ and the overall writing in my book. It has received some 5-Star reviews, and certainly happy with those.
7. What do you consider to be your ideal writing environment?
Early morning on the loveseat, after donut and chamomile tea, laptop on the lap, sneaking peeks at the dazzling sun-specked waters of the Sea of Cortez.
8. Of character development, description, and plot– which was the most challenging in writing Mama’s Madness? Why?
The plot. Because my fiction could not top the ‘true crime’ aspects of the actual case (of which, I had not entirely all of the details), it was challenging for some personal reasons. I’ve lived and seen abuse in my early appalachian life, in my sister’s life, in my mother’s life, so it was challenging on the emotional side and on the plot side… the plot lines in all of my books are always the most challenging, making sure the correct connections are made from an organizational point of view.
9. What marketing and promotion have you done since Mama’s Madness was released?
The social media networks, writer group memberships, my blog sites, interviews, reviews, linkage… I don’t do book store campaigns and a lot of advertising. Sadly, I’ve been lacking in my promotional efforts. Mostly, I just write and hope for miracles.
10. What is your favorite novel? Why?
Toss-up between MAMA’S MADNESS and BUTTERFLIES AND JELLYBEANS – A LOVE STORY ( my first venture into the Romance genre). Both books, I personally feel, give some indications that my writing is competitively good.
11. What about your Navy experience informs your novels?
It’s difficult to say, but surely many life changing experiences did occur during my Naval tour.
12. How did you choose the cover of Mama’s Madness? What is the importance or lack of importance of a cover?
I wanted a simple cover, no splash, just the words, MAMA’S MADNESS boldly printed in the center of the page… Book covers, like so much in life, are subjective. My hope was that a blank cover with some color contrasts and those two words would maybe entice readers inside the book.
13. What future projects are in the works?
I’m writing my tenth novel. The working title is THE RELUCTANT SAVAGE. Hopefully, it will be completed sometime this year.
14. What does your writing/editing process entail?
I’m a one-man publishing house: I write, re-write, re-write, edit, re-edit, re-edit, including proofreading and the whole laundry list of editorial chores. With all the re-re-re’s, will there be errata? Of course! I taught ‘Advanced Writing’ at one time and somehow I’ve maintained my humanity: I do err — you will find typos, verb tense changes, you name it… There is so much time spent with each book that, after some passage of time, it has to be finished. Don’t believe I’ve ever read a book by any mainstream publisher or otherwise where that book has been error-free. Do errors in my books upset me? Let me just say, ‘I die a little when an error is found!’
15. Is there anything else you want your potential readers to know?
Here are a few links that expose me a bit more:
http://www.about.me/brchitwood (with further links)
http://www.thefinalcurtain1.wordpress.com (blog w/current and archived posts)
http://www.goo.gl/fuxUA (IAN site – Independent Authors Network – with bio and previews of book) http://www.amazon.com/Billy-Ray-Chitwood/e/B00502520Q/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1359061593&sr=1-2-ent (amazon.com) US
http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=billy+ray+chitwood (amazon.co.uk) UK
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