Douglas Joe Guy: An Author Interview

Author Douglas Joe Guy

Douglas Joe Guy

Author, Douglas Joe Guy, has an extremely interesting background.  Joe is an Italian-American from the small town of LaFollette, nestled in the beautiful mountains of East Tennessee. Joe is a military veteran with over twenty years in the U.S. Navy.  Thirteen of these years in the Navy were spent at sea. Joe likes to say there are two types of stories in the Navy.  One type is called a “sea story,” and these stories may even have a touch of truth to them. The other type of story always start out with the phrase, “Now this is no shit ….” Naturally, true stories such as these became known as “no shitters.”

Joe read hundreds and perhaps thousands of book while at sea, and from every genre imaginable. Combine that with the wealth of  “sea stories” and “no shitters” from his days in the Navy, and he has a lot of material to work with. Many of these tales were funny, some were tragic, others were love stories, and finally, some were simply preposterous. After retiring the second time, first from the Navy and then from his Financial Services Agency, Joe needed a way to get out from under his wife’s feet. Therefore, he decided to write a book. I got to work with Joe on a couple of his projects, and it was a real honor to do so.

The Interview

What would you like to share about your background?

What inspired you to be a writer?

One of the things I learned early on, from information available on writer’s sites on the web and and from YouTube videos, is that a person should write about what they know. I felt that I knew 3 things: First, I know East Tennessee in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. The second thing I knew was the military. I served for 21 years, 3 months and 6 days (not like I’d been counting) in the United States Navy, retiring as a Chief Radioman. That time included serving sea tours on three ships and 21 months with III Corps in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. Finally, the third thing I know is Southern Italy in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. One or more of these three topics are found in all of my stories.

Where are you from?

I am from a small town in East Tennessee, called LaFollette. It’s located approximately forty miles north of Knoxville and figures in all of my stories.

What hobbies do you enjoy?

Reading (of course) and travel, especially if it involves Italy.

What other information would you like to share about yourself?

Well, lets see.  I have three cats (all with Italian names). I have three (sometimes) adult children, and I Have five granddaughters (all of which are smart and beautiful).

What would you like to share about yourself as a reader?

What is the first book you remember reading?

My first book? Who knows? Maybe a “Dick and Jane” story?

How much do you currently read yourself?

Nowadays, I write more than I read. Some books I own I am afraid to read because they are in the same genre in which I write and I am scared that I might accidentally take a line, a thought, or phrase from someone else … because, I seem to remember that John Lennon once used one  a lyric from a Chuck Berry song and had to pay a price.

What are some of your favorite authors or books?

When it comes to authors, I’m all over the board. Louis L’Amour, Sue Grafton, John Sandford (love those Virgil Flowers stories), biographies of writers, songwriters, and painters.

What are your favorite genres?

Again, all over the board. Westerns, crime investigation, very little war … even though I touch on it in some of my stories. When I do, I usually show the ugly part of war, where you’re scared to death and about to shit your pants. There’s nothing pretty or wonderful about war. I can read pretty much anything, anywhere and anytime and prefer paperbacks or eBooks. eBooks are certainly easier to carry around in volume though. Somehow, I can’t seem to concentrate long enough for audio books.

What would you like to share about yourself as a writer?

What projects do you see in your writing future?

Currently, I am publishing a series on Amazon called “The LaFollette Chronicles.” I have published four of them in the last sixty days. They are stories that take place in LaFollette and/or Southern Italy. The time frames are usually the first sixty or so years of the last century.

I write about life in those years and people in situations they had not planned on. These situation may involve dealing with a cheating spouse or crawling over the dead bodies of friends while storming the beaches during the Salerno invasion in September of 1943. Maybe the story is about falling in love the very first time you see a person, or perhaps fighting for your very life in 50-below-zero weather of Korea at the “Frozen Chosin” Reservoir in Korea during November of 1950.

Have you always enjoyed writing?

I have enjoyed writing since I decided to take myself seriously a couple of years ago when I decided to give writing a try. I don’t like to fail.

What authors have influenced your writing?

At the top of the list is Louis L’Amour. His “Education Of A Wandering Man” is a perfect example of knowing about the things you write about later. When he says that a certain trail leads to a certain spring or canyon or whatever, you can bet it’s there. Therefore, when I write about going into Browder Hutson’s little grocery store in 1953 in LaFollette Tennessee, you can bet that I can describe it to a tee. In addition, when I write that women in Benevento Italy have been described and written about as witches for hundreds of years, well … you get the idea!

How do you find topics or ideas for your books?

They just pop up.  For instance, I recently watched a forensics show on television and they were discussing blood types and combination. I found out that type O plus type O could NOT produce a type A child. That produced an 83,000 word romance/tragedy/vengeance story. Another story awaiting publication (much too long at 152k words) came to me during a 30-minute nap. I woke up with the story line and protagonists. After that, it was just a matter of filling in the blanks. I often ask cash register people in grocery stores if this was the job they dreamed of during home-room in high school. In just one or two minutes I can get a piece of dialog or a thought for a story. I have not yet had anyone tell me that working a checkout line at Kroger’s or Walmart was what they dreamed of.

Do you use traditional outline, theme, or plot methods of writing?

My first two works, I did “flying by the seat of my pants,” but a few articles and YouTube videos showed me the light and I started working with a bit of an outline. It definitely makes things go faster and in the direction of your vision for the story.

What tools do you use for writing?

I use my laptop and “OpenOffice.”  Microsoft Word is on my laptop too, but I don’t know, it just intimidates me. OpenOffice is more or less a clone, but I just feel more comfortable there. I use Grammarly too. Considering that I haven’t been inside a class room for over 50 years, Grammarly helps a lot.

What is the hardest thing for you about writing?

Putting it all together at the end just prior to publishing. This means coming up with a great book description, for which I use Darren exclusively.  For the book covers, I use an Italian lady, a real artist named Giulia Midori, also exclusively.  Both of these people, I discovered on fiverr.com.

I use another fiverr person from Barbados exclusively for formatting because he has patience with me and my last minute corrections and errors.  And of course, the editing process. The writing process is easy.

I am 72 years old and don’t have time for writer’s block or the other writer complaints that I read about. My LaFollette Chronicles series has a total of 12 (and still counting) books in it.

What advice would you give to a new writer?

That’s tough. First of all, I guess just try to find your own vision. I realize that I’m not Grisham or Grafton, or King or Faulkner, or whomever you can name. Heck, I’m not even Darren! Now, HE can write! I’m not going to win a Pulitzer. I write to amuse myself and I write stories that I like to read. Making a few bucks on Amazon doesn’t hurt either. My granddaughters tell me that I am creating their inheritance.

What would you like to share about your work

How many books have you published so far?

I have published four works of fiction. They are all available on Amazon. Typing “The LaFollette Chronicles” into the Amazon search window will bring up all available titles.

What are you currently working on?

Currently, I am getting the other 8 chronicles into working order for my publication schedule. I have watched every Michael Anderle interview available on YouTube and took to heart his theory about putting another new work on Amazon every 3 or so weeks. However, I went a step farther and built up a backlog of books to hit amazon with rather than writing one at a time as he does. I write fast, but not that fast. I once read about a “Pulp” writer back in the golden age of pulp publications when writers were paid by the number of words. The writer had a room with 25 typewriters in it, each loaded with paper and stories in progress. When he stalled, he would just go to another typewriter and proceed on whatever was in that machine.

When I have 12 folders to go to, I can get several thousand words written most days, in one tale or another. They come out of the hopper pretty quickly when you can do this. Having a formula helps too. My characters are usually from LaFollette and are tall and handsome (just like me …) and the women of course are all beautiful. And smart. The rest is easy.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your work?

One more idea about where ideas come from. Recently, I was  kicked back, reading a book about songwriting by Jimmy Webb, whom along with Bobby Braddock, I consider one of the greatest songwriters ever.  I took a break from reading and went to  YouTube, and surfed awhile. I stopped on an old biography about John Singer Sargent, a painter so famous that even I had heard of him.

In the story, he goes to the island of Capri, Italy in 1878, to paint several portraits of Rosina Ferrara, who was the equivalent of a modern supermodel. Famous artists from everywhere, went to Capri just to paint her. Her looks fascinated me. I happened to glance down and saw Jimmy Webb looking up at me and I thought, what if the greatest songwriter of the 1950’s, a combination of Webb and Braddock, was a young man from LaFollette Tennessee, who went to Italy on a speaking engagement and took a couple of days to visit Capri. There he meets, falls in love with, and then loses, Rosina Ferrara?  Bingo! Want to find out the rest of the story? Go to Amazon and buy “The Capri Girl.” That’s how it works, boys and girls.

How can your readers contact you?

I can be reached by:

Email: fbelpasocity@gmail.com

My Facebook Author’s Page is: The LaFollette Chronicles

Facebook page is : Douglas Joe Guy

All book titles are available under “The LaFollette Chronicles” on Amazon.com.

In addition,  individual titles can be found as shown below:

  • The Capri Girl
  • Never Go To Capri Alive
  • Soldato Mio – My Soldier
  • A Heart’s Broken Travels
  • Bloggers Note: I have read several of the books Douglas Joe Guy wrote and enjoyed them immensely. If stories about romance, drama, history, revenge interest you, you really should give these stories a read! Darren C Gilbert, Author Serpents Underfoot

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