Author Interview: Bill Wright

We disguise the CALLING ALL INDIES! program as a good service to indie-published authors, but we have to be honest and admit it’s pretty self serving. Not only do we have access to great books we might have otherwise missed, but these gracious authors continue to break away from valuable writing time to shoot the sh*t with seven crazy witches. Here we get a look at what makes Bill Wright (we’re struggling not to call him Doctor William Wright, because he signs his emails ‘Bill’) tick, and what lies beneath this fascinating memoir. Enjoy.

DLB: Ok, Doctor Wright, are you comfy? Here we go.

BW: I go by Bill.

DLB: We’re not at all comfortable with that. How about a racy nickname?

BW: Not a publishable one.

DLB: A man after our own hearts. Where were you born?

BW: Denver, CO

DLB: We have a best friend in Denver! Who’s your best friend?

BW: My neighbor, Mike.

DLB: Why?

BW: Because he doesn’t laugh when I play guitar, and I get to be first in line for his home microbrews.

DLB: Ok, we’re going to need Mike’s number. Don’t laugh, we’re serious. What else makes you laugh?

BW: Life, in general, is a hoot. Believe it or not, I get a lot of laughs from the prisoners I take care of every day. The stuff they come up with was the impetus for the book.

DLB: Impetus! What a fantastic word. So these prisoners were your inspiration?

BW: Nobody was interested in what I did when I worked as a neuro-otologist (sort of a cross between an ear doctor and a neurosurgeon). When I started to work as the physician in a supermax prison, EVERYBODY wanted to know what I did. The book started as a journal of the weird things I saw and experienced every day and just got out of hand.

DLB: Wait, what is it that you do?

BW: I’m the physician at the Colorado State Penitentiary (and others). CSP is the maximum-security prison for Colorado’s worst offenders.

DLB: Holy moly. That sounds intense. So this is for real? There really is a Colorado State Penitentiary? 

BW: Oh, yes, Virginia, there really is a Colorado State Penitentiary hulking on the sun-blasted plains outside Canon City, CO. It’s as real as a heart attack.

DLB: What sort of research did you do for the book?

BW: Mostly, I lived it. There was lots of general research and interviews, formal and informal, with prison staff, but mostly the book is from my own experience.

DLB: That…is outrageous. You must have seen so much. Ever get really angry? What do you when you get angry? Do you have an outlet?

BW: Hmmm. I don’t get angry very easily, but I guess when I do I stomp off to my man-cave and sulk. It’s pretty boring doing that for long, so I try to forgive and forget more quickly than I used to.

DLB: We’re going to pretend that you’re an OZ physician who winds down with illegal drag racing and bar fights. Any good scars to help us out?

BW: Considering where I work, I really should have some interesting scars or at least some tattoos. I feel semi-fraudulent for not having any.

DLB: Fraud! Any secrets?

BW: Sure.

DLB: Perfect answer. Let’s say you’re getting out for the night. Where are you going?

BW: Once a week it’s boys’ night out playing guitars and drinking a couple of beers. The rest of the week I’m a good citizen hanging around home with the grandkids, building a campfire in the backyard, or escaping for a long weekend to Breckenridge for skiing, hiking or just reading.

DLB: “A long weekend to Breckenridge for skiing…’ So dreamy. How about on Sunday morning. What are you doing?

BW: Sleeping late. After that I’m walking our two dogs with my wife, Mollie. If the Colts or the Broncos are on, I’m set for the day.

DLB: What is your most everlasting childhood memory?

BW: Paddling a canoe in the Canadian wilderness at night, seeing twenty bazillion stars and feeling about 2 inches tall. 

DLB: Just beautiful. How long have you been writing?

BW: I used to write a ton of professional medical articles for journals. Dry as dust. I started writing for myself in the mid 90’s.

DLB: So how many books have you completed?

BW: I’ve completed six so far, but only published three. The first three were “practice novels.”

DLB: That’s way nicer than the way we refer to our firsts. What’s your writing process? Do you begin with an outline? How well do you know your characters?

BW: I write in blocks, taking an idea and writing about it until I’ve exhausted either the subject or myself. The books come about by linking the blocks together in some semblance of order. I’ve never been disciplined enough to do a coherent outline. As soon as I start one, I get enthused about some item in the outline and start writing about it. Sort of like a dog seeing a squirrel.

DLB: We’re very familiar with that behavior. Any advice for other indie pubs?

BW: Don’t fall in love with your words. After you’ve edited the life out of your baby, give it to a professional editor and take their advice.

DLB: Great advice! What is your dream writing space?

BW: In my dream writing space I’d never get any work done. I do lots of my writing deep in the bowels of a prison where there’s absolutely nothing to do except write. Does wonders for concentration.

DLB: We’ll take your word for it. Any upcoming news or promo spots?

BW: The sequel, Jailhouse Doc, will be published in mid-September. It’s about being medical director at the county jail. I’ve started my third book about “kites”, the messages that inmates use to communicate with the medical clinic. 

DLB: ‘Jailhouse Doc’ is the best sequel title in the history of titles. We can’t wait! Thanks, doc, for being so awesome. 

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