The Story Behind the Work of Billy Ray Chitwood

WHEN I READ Cloud Dancer, I wrote for Amazon:  The story moves along at a fast, intriguing, pace, and you will discover that Billy Ray’s writing has passages that border on literary fiction. His characters are real. They aren’t made of words. They are flesh and bone. They have their flaws, their weaknesses, and their strengths. They fail, but they never stop trying. They play the hand life deals them, and you are with them every step of the way.

I am interviewing Bill Ray Chitwood, who is one of the country’s top my indie mystery writers. He discusses the stories behind his novels and his life. His new book travels a lot of roads the reader hardly ever travels at the same time.

Question: Tell me about your newest book and what was the inspiration behind your writing it?

Chitwood: My newest book is Cloud Dancer. It is essentially a love story combining several genres: romance, suspense, history, time travel, crime/murder. From a historical perspective, “The Trail of Tears” has fascinated me for years, just the sheer weight this atrocious act and government malfeasance put on our history as a nation. Tearing the Five Civilized Tribes from their homeland and driving them like cattle to a western reservation can never be forgotten nor forgiven. In addition, The Time Machine by H. G. Wells has also fascinated m, along with the bestial evil that exists in our world – the sociopaths and psychopaths. I wanted to combine as many genres as possible into the novel.

Question: Why and when did you decide to become a writer?

Chitwood: Too late in life, I’m afraid, although in my childhood I enjoyed playing with words, writing poems, mimicking my favorite singers of the day. Briefly, I taught Advanced Writing in a high school setting. Several novels were started and abandoned during my profligate “wine, women, and song” days. I did write some poetry along the way, but it would be accurate to put my “novel writing” period around 1990.

Question: What book has been the greatest influence on you and your writing and why?

Chitwood: Very likely, it was An Arizona Tragedy – A Bailey Crane Mystery (book one of six). A young actress/model friend of mine was brutally murdered in Arizona many years ago. Her killer was never found. In my fictionalized version, Bailey catches her killer. I used actual newspaper accounts in detailing the method of her murder. Her body was ravaged by the summer heat and denizens of the desert northeast of Phoenix for six weeks before she was discovered. She was a lovely young lady with two children living with her mother in an apartment near where her purse and car were located. The book and my fictional account of a true California case, Mama’s Madness, had the most impact for me as an author. It is difficult to believe that such incredible evil exists in our world.

Question: Where do you find ideas for your books?

Chitwood: News events primarily, something that comes to me in bed at night, an idea someone has mentioned to me that seems interesting. Although I take a pill for the cursed ailment, insomnia, it still makes for a restless mind. Unless the book is a memoir I’ve written, most of my books begin with a sentence offered up by my mind. Usually that beginning sentence leads to the plot lines and characters, It’s usually quite a ride.

Question: Where do you find ideas for your characters?

Chitwood: People I’ve known in my life, such as old Navy buddies or school chums. I also get ideas from movies and sometimes from previous books I’ve read.

Question: How would you describe your writing style?

Chitwood: Easy and lucid, at times literary, and hopefully entertaining.

Question: What do you consider the most difficult part of writing a book?

Chitwood: I find social media and other interruptions take too much of my writing time and, certainly, the marketing part. I really don’t do a good job launching a book, and I’m either too much a prisoner of fatigability to plead for reviews. I just hope the books will find their way to readers who will like them and review them. At the moment, Twitter is the only tool I personality use for promotion.

Question: What are your current projects?

Chitwood: I’ve started another book that involves a family breakdown and a noble veteran. I’m going to enjoy the ride and see where it takes me. I’m also working on a book about my maternal grandfather and trying to get over some family hurdles.

Click HERE for more information on Cloud Dancer.

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