Author Interview ~ Billy Ray Chitwood

Welcome, all.

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Billy Ray Chitwood author of MAMA’S MADNESS and STRANGER ABDUCTION plus 12 other titles.

Billy Rea2

Hi, Billy Ray.

Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
My pleasure, Lawrence. Thanks for the opportunity to share information about my books and the guy who wrote them.

First of all, I’m a young man in an old man’s body, enjoying the magic of writing.

Writing for me is therapy and, in essence, a new life by exploring the lives of characters in my books, finding parts of me on and between the lines of my narratives.
Born in Appalachia, my young life was filled with emotional uncertainty, family displacement, and lots of mobility.

I’ve written 14 books, many of them mystery and suspense novels inspired by true events. My first book years ago was published by a small press and went out of print. It carried the title, PROBABLE CAUSE. That book was based on a brutal murder of an actress friend of mine in Phoenix, Arizona and it would become the first book of my ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series, Books 1-6, rewritten for the most part. Book 1 is titled: AN ARIZON TRAGEDY – A BAILEY CRANE MYSTERY – Book 1.


Perhaps morbid, I’ve had this, fascination with the evil acts of men and women throughout history and I, write mostly in the genres of mystery, suspense, thriller, romance, and memoir.

What were you like at school?
Timid, perhaps, is the best word to use… quiet, not a particularly good student in the early grades and high school. My college experience was more rewarding, and I was eager to learn. I made ‘Dean’s List’ on numerous occasions and graduated high in my graduating class.

Were you good at English?
English was my major, and I had a penchant for writing, loved the English romantic poets, the American writers in the ‘Naturalism’ period of literature – a la Steven Crane, Frank Norris, Theodore Dreiser, Jack London. So, I would go so far to say I was good.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?
That is a very good question. Here in ‘Twilight’ I’ve found writing gives me reason to rise in the morning, open the laptop, fight with its inconsistences, and write, write, write. I’ve written well over 300 blog posts at and I’m working on my fifteenth book. Again, ‘young man in old body’, and I see no reason for not living until, say, one hundred and five – ‘think of all I’ll derive from being alive’… great song – “Young at Heart.”

Which writers inspire you?
Among the contemporary authors, Nelson DeMille is a favorite. Others include John Grisham and Tom Clancy…not to forget Jack Higgins and John Saul. Perhaps, the greatest inspiration for me were the ‘The Travis McGee books by John D. MacDonald. Those thin paperback books were prized possessions of mine… lost somewhere along the way. There are some Indie authors and Twitter pals who are great writers that inspire me: Englishman, John David Dolan, Dianne Gray, Australia, Victoria Dougherty, Virginia, Dr. Timothy Tays, Arizona.

So, what have you written?
Aside from ‘The Bailey Crane Mystery Series’ -Books 1-6, there are eight other books. I won’t mention one political rant I likely should never have written… you know: ‘don’t write about politics and/or religion’.

Book 1, “An Arizona Tragedy” is most likely my personal favorite as the story was inspired by the brutal homicide of a good friend: a young actress and mother who was only in her early twenties.


You can see a preview here.

Book 2, “Satan’s Song,” as difficult as it is to believe, is also inspired by a true crime in Phoenix, AZ which became a ‘cold case’ – just recently solved.
You can see a preview here.

Book 3, “The Brutus Gate,” is a book purely from my imagination about political corruption, drugs, murder, rape, an a little romance thrown in.
You can see a preview here.

Book 4, “Murder in Pueblo del Mar,” is inspired by another true crime in Mexico on the ‘Sea of Cortez’. An AZ wife and mother is viciously murdered while on holiday in Mexico.
You can see a preview here.

Book 5, “A Soul Defiled,” is another mind romp with the setting again in Mexico on the ‘Sea of Cortez’. The Treasurer of the resort’s HOA is murdered. Bailey Crane is asked to investigate by the resort’s president and the local police jefe. One antagonist stands out!
You can see a preview here.

Book 6, “A Common Evil.” is the final of the series, and it is inspired by true events. I lived in the resort for several years, was for a short period of time the HOA President. A Thriller with kidnapping, murder, and an ending which will surprise.
You can see a preview here.

Each book in the ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series’ stands alone, or, the reader can follow Bailey Crane’s progression from book to book

Seven books to go… “Mama’s Madness” was a tough book to write because of the true guts of the subject matter. Inspired by true events in California: an evil mother tortures and kills two of her daughters and an ex-husband.

You can see a preview here.


“Stranger Abduction” is also inspired by an Arizona ‘cold case’ many years old. A Mother and Daughter walk 3 miles to a country store for cigarettes and ice cream. They make it to the store but they never return home. This is another thriller that presents an alternate view of what might have happened.


You can see a preview here.


“Phoenix Fire” is a romance/suspense novel, a , beautiful love story, with family ‘luggage’: sibling rivalry, a Grandmother’s great secret, and a desert odyssey… Tissues are recommended!
You can see a preview here.

“The Reluctant Savage” is a suspense story with a strong love triangle theme. There is murder and a ‘noir’ feel to this fast-paced novel of romance and drama, along with violence, abuse, and a cinematic feel.
You can see a preview here.

“Cloud Dancer” was a fun writing project where I experimented by crossing genres… there is even ‘time travel in this one and some really relevant and infamous history. Above all, it is a beautiful love story, with suspense, murder, and, did I mention, a beautiful love story.

CloudDancer3D (1)

You can see a preview here.

“The Cracked Mirror – Reflections of an Appalachian Son.” This is a memoir that is 90% true. The reader can assume that I’m Prentice Paul Hiller. Actually, I’m proud of this effort. There’s a lot of history, romance, even an awful murder and suicide.
You can see a preview here.

“What Happens Next? A Life’s True Tale,” is the non-fictional account of my life – shameful in spots but a true rendering of a romantic and wanderlust, leaving an emotional childhood in Appalachia and entering the neon lights of wine, women, and song.
You can see a preview here.

Where can we buy or see them?
For each book mentioned above, I’ve given its own page for review and for purchase. The books are also available at Amazon worldwide.

What are you working on at the minute?
The WIP has a working title: “Darkness and Fog.” It’s generally about a young man, his family troubles, and an Army veteran, wounded in a war that had no validity for him but gave him something precious in Faith and Love. I’m wavering on just where I want the narrative to take me… I’m only seventy pages in…

What genre are your books?
Mystery – suspense – thriller – romance – memoir – history.

What draws you to this genre?
A morbid fascination with evil doers it is difficult to grasp just how much evil there is in the world.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Re ‘The Bailey Crane Mystery Series’ Books 1=6, the Bailey Crane character would be played by either Ben Affleck or Matthew McConaughey. Wendy, a cop who will eventually be Bailey’s wife would be played by Katherine Heigl.

How much research do you do?
Usually, library microfiche stuff, making sure any actual details in a fictional account is accurate.

Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?
Only some collaboration with ‘flash fiction’ with three of my author buddies.

When did you decide to become a writer?
I dabbled in childhood, taught ‘Advanced Writing’ in a high school setting, and, somewhere in a sales and marketing career, I began writing in earnest.

Why do you write?
Hope this doesn’t sound corny, but…I write to live! It is therapy and it keeps my mind active. I look in the mirror and I see some ‘weathering’, but, as I’ve said, ‘I’m a young man in an old body…

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
I can talk just fine, but I say everything better in my writing.

Do you write full-time or part-time?
Full Time – 24/7…

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
Up early, do some exercises, shave and shower, eat, take pills, write blog posts, flash fiction, short stories, etc. Watch some TV in the PM with Julie Anne, my lovely bride.

Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
When I started writing, yes… No more.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
Computer…more precisely, my laptop.

Where do your ideas come from?
Usually, in bed when I can’t fall asleep and the thoughts collide in my head.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
Mostly, the latter!

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
Eh! Guess I’m satisfied with my creative evolution.

What is the hardest thing about writing?
Not getting enough exercise

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
The constant editing and the re-writing.

What is the easiest thing about writing?
When the words are flowing, it’s a thing of beauty!

How long on average does it take you to write a book?
4-6 months.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?
No, but there are rare times when I just don’t feel like writing.

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
If you write mystery and suspense, or, any genre, start with one sentence, like, “Why are you here and what do you want?” OR, “The fire got closer, and the damned car would not start!” Just grease the wheel – start the first chapter with one line of dialogue and see where it leads you! Let that opening line of dialogue be you launch pad. The characters in the book will write your story… Or, not! 😊

What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
I’ve written a book series: The Bailey Crane Mystery Series – Books 1-6 (above).

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?


What book/s are you reading at present?

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
I do it all! A one-man publishing house! I KNOW, it’s not the best way to do it!

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
No ‘stew’!

Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?
It’s a ‘no-no’ but I do my own editing…that might answer many of your questions and mine. I’m stubborn and feel that I do a reasonably good job in editing my books.

Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.
Early on, I used CreateSpace book covers, but, now, I pick one online and order it.

Who designed your book cover/s?
Fiverr people.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Yes, and, there are times when I don’t like my selection.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
Although Sales and Marketing was once my career field, I feel so inadequate in marketing my books. So, a traditional publishing house would be my first choice. Earlier in my writing, I tried querying some publishers, but gave up… With tens of millions of writers out there, what are the odds?

How do you market your books?
Through twitter, facebook, google+, all author,’ book pages, BooksGoSocial, quotesrain.

Why did you choose this route?
Testing the marketing waters!

Would you or do you use a PR agency?
No. I’m too frugal!

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
Too much! I’d rather be writing!

What do you do to get book reviews?
“Mama’s Madness” has sixty unsolicited reviews. It’s wrong, I know, but I don’t like begging for reviews.

Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers?
Should have, but, NO!

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
Love the good ones! Can’t believe anyone likes bad reviews. I don’t dwell too long on them.

Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you?
My wife, Julie Anne, and ‘Lady Gray’, the cat, leave the room when I do any marketing…either amused or getting out of harm’s way.

What’re your views on social media marketing?
One word simplicity: Questionable!

Which social network worked best for you?
Still waiting to find out!

Any tips on what to do and what not to do?
No, but I could use some bonafide tips!

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work?
Should have, but, NO.

Did you get interviewed by local press/radio for your book launch?
Some of my books were written while living in Mexico as an ex-pat and was interviewed on radio there. No interviews in the US.

Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?
I’ll be watching your author interviews for other authors’ answers to this question. 😊

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in the future?
Still making them! In marketing and sales most of my life and can’t find the keys…

Why do you think that other well-written books just don’t sell?
Wish I could answer that question…but, would likely keep it to myself after all the draught years!

What do you think of “trailers” for books?
I’m doing some now.

Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book/s?
Yes, you can see it here.

Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
Perhaps, but I don’t like the idea of giving FREE books!

Did you format your own book?

In what formats is/are your book/s available?
Kindle and Paperback.

How do you relax?
Reading and/or TV movies, and watching ‘Lady Gray’ play with her stuffed mouses.

What is your favourite motivational phrase?
I can! I will! I did!

What is your favourite positive saying?
Don’t wait for your dream to happen… MAKE it Happen!

What is your favourite book and why?
MAMA’S MADNESS. Because the narrative comes from truth and carries an important message!

What is your favourite quote?
“Life is really simple. People insist on making it complicated.”

What is your favourite film and why?
“Somewhere in Time” – because of its haunting theme and music.

Where can you see yourself in 5 years time?
Musing and Writing!

What advice would you give to your younger self?
“Don’t do that!!!”

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
John Wayne. Because my wife as a child sat on his lap and because he was his own man!

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
‘Travis McGee Books” by John D. MacDonald.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write! Write! Write! If you are good at your craft, the world will sooner or later recognize your talent.

Where do you see publishing going in the future?
With our technology evolving so fast, it is difficult to even speculate… for me.

Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
You are most thorough and one of the best author interviewers…although you leave me exhausted! 😊 (Hey, that’s my purpose in life. LW)

How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Amazon Author Page