From East Tennessee. My family roots go back to tenth century England and a hamlet just north of London called Chetwode.
Never knew what it was in life that I really wanted to do...guess that had something to do with those roots in East Tennessee, a broken family, and so much mobility. Saw a lot of cowboy movies as a kid and thought about acting for awhile. Loved to sing and thought about being a singer. Being an actor or a singer meant there would be audiences, and I was a bashful boy who wasn't too comfortable in crowds. Wanted to be a fireman. Wanted to be a cop. A professional golfer. A tennis pro. The 'want list' just kept changing.
You likely know where I'm going with this opening bio brevity. My dreams were fleeting because I was a fickle fellow whose roots never got too deep anywhere, any time. So. when those Tennessee hills were behind me and that big adult world opened up to me, well, it kind of overwhelmed me. There were so many Appalachian and bible belt emotions conflicting inside my heart and mind that made it easy to make a lot of mistakes. Make them, surely did, too many to enumerate, and my guess is I've been blaming old Appalachia, the hills of Tennessee, the broken family, the mobility, all the emotions laid upon me, for this rather wanderlust life I've been living. Guess I've always been chasing that something that was missing in those long ago days.
Now, don't get me wrong. With the mistakes, which you can read about later, there were successes and honorable service to my country in the US Navy. The successes, in my way of thinking, were: my good wife and wonderful children; a college BA degree from Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA with a major in English; high school teaching; sales and marketing management positions with some of our top educational publishers; acting in film, stage, and television; my own business.
The most exhilarating success has been my writing eleven books. The writing has allowed me to purposefully wander through some simple plot lines and characters' lives to explore my own dimensions, to discover some things about myself I never really considered. Up front, I'll state too brashly for some, my books are good, well written, and easy to read. Sure, the critics, even I, will still find the occasional errata that most writers disdain. There is nothing, however, that has given me more pleasure than turning a phrase that says everything I want it to say, to re-read a passage that brings back some emotional echoes.
So, you have a short bio glimpse of Billy Ray Chitwood, an Appalachian kid who ate some emotional soup and spent a lifetime trying to digest it. Are Billy Ray's books worthy of a read? My vote doesn't count. Only you can tell me with any certainty...
Eleven books and a lifetime later, reading, writing, and family are the biggest parts of my life. Many of my works of fiction were inspired from actual crimes. My first book, "The Cracked Mirror - Reflections Of An Appalachian Son," is a fictional memoir which has 90% factual accuracy about my own life. Later, I wrote a rather shameful non-fiction 100% accurate portrait of myself, "What Happens Next? A Life's True Tale."
Currently, my time is spent on the Cumberland Plateau in Middle Tennessee with my lovely wife, Julie Anne, and our feisty but lovable Bengal cat named George.
Writing is therapy for the soul and allows me to explore dimensions of myself otherwise neglected or never known. It would not surprise me to know that writers find pieces of themselves heretofore never considered in the words they pen. Within my plot lines and my characters I can fuse and muse the most difficult and simple elements of living. My characters can embolden me with youthful heroism or with the skeptical observations of an aging man. Through my pages of people I can be a buffoon, clown, hero, villain, and/or a super solver of the world's problems...Writing then must be another life for me to live.
It would greatly please me to have you follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google, linkedin. For more information and previews of my books and posts, please go to these websites and blogs:
http://www.thefinalcurtain1.wordpress.com (My blogs are also on Goodreads.)