My name is Billy Ray Chitwood.
Giving my name gives me away…but, then, that’s what I wish to do! That’s what one does when one writes an honest introductory article – ‘rat’ on your life, where you’ve been, the scandals, the ‘ugly rap sheets’, the fourteen books I’ve written, the 350-plus blog posts…
Okay, cute, but leave out ‘scandals’ and ‘ugly rap sheets’ from the last sentence in the preceding paragraph. There are none! Really, there are none! Unless we go way back in time to a Sunday night car wreck caused by Lambda Chi Alpha, my fraternity and its initiation rite.
Okay, not so cute and not so true on the above last line of the preceding paragraph.
Don’t leave, please! I promise to play straight from this point onward.
Here is my true story…
My name does give away my heritage. Born in poverty in an Appalachian Saw Mill Camp prior to mid-century 1900s, there was enough emotional see-saws to ride to keep this young lad confused and immeasurably displaced with all the broken family messes. It was rather common for the time with a lot of good people sick with Malaria, out of jobs, and ‘the creek was rising’…ah, stop it! you can’t put a happy face on that part of your life. It was the pits!
However, I won’t use this space to cover that period, but there is a book I wrote that captures the essence of that memorable childhood and the era (actually, two books) – Woody Guthrie and his son, Arlo, had some songs to sing about those days.
My narrative takes a quick shift as I leave high school and escape the poignancy of youth for the adult world of neon lights, lovely ladies, and too much partying. That is, after my stint in the United States Navy. The old USN corrected my path as much as it could.
After serving part of my enlistment in Adak, a tiny military island in the Aleutian Islands where tundra and whiskey either makes a man or destroys him, my new duty station was Washington, DC where I worked in a security division, feeling somehow special, helping in some small way to keep our nation safe.
Well, the island of Adak and Washington did for me all they could.
Back stateside I became a ‘lotus eater’ for a while, you know, that group Odysseus discovered in mythology who spent their days in languorous daze (another cutesy – days, daze!), eating and imbibing their way to some sort of Nirvana.
Actually, most of that wild living period came after my honorable discharge from the Navy, after 10-years of a failed marriage, after a college degree, during some acting in TV commercials, film, and modeling.
What I ask you to believe in all this is that the ladies I met, some I married, were all beautiful of body and soul, and, for the most part, sensitive to where I had been up to that point in time.
My writing was something placed inside of me by the Almighty and, I suppose, by genetic structuring. I began as a young boy playing with poetry and with songs. I mimicked great vocalists like Nat King Cole and John Gary, like my hero, Frank Sinatra, like Perry Como and legend-still, Tony Bennett. What writing talent was mine stayed ‘on hold’ during the days of WWS – Wine, Women, Song! – to be taken up again in the eighties.
Sure, I’m aware of the portrait I’m painting here but nothing sets you free as well as the truth…and that is what’s being conveyed here.
The portrait is not very attractive, perhaps, but just think of the writing ideas that come to me during those sleepless nights when my demons visit me – and, without a doubt, I know in certainty and in my introspective moments that what has made its home in my Romantic and Wanderlust heart are the meek and humble beginnings in Appalachia.
This might very well surprise you (if you don’t mind being surprised!): despite my wayward journey from the hills of Tennessee lo those many years ago, there is really nothing I would change – even the sometimes agony and angst in my demon visits. It is that fodder for the soul that connects me with the characters and with the lines that embrace the narratives of my books and blog posts.
My writing, I believe to be good if not pure. Many of my novels are inspired by true life criminal acts, gritty and raw. I’ve had this curse of curiosity about the evil in our world, the psychopaths and socio-paths that abuse our children, kill them and so many other innocents. So, I write in the mystery, suspense, and thriller genres, but also write romance novels that have a suspenseful edge, even rich love stories with a ‘time travel’ element.
Of course, I wish my books to sell, but even if there be no best sellers that I pen, it will not stop my writing.
Writing gives me my therapy, my raison d’être, a new life to explore here in ‘Twilight’.