Welcome to John Colyer, My Guest Hound
By Jeff Salter
Folks, over the 275 weeks I’ve been the resident Hound at Four Foxes One Hound, I’ve hosted my share of Guest Foxes… but only about three Guest Hounds. So, when I decided it was time for another Hound to join me here, I contacted my talented friend, author Kathy Ragle, who’s also a publisher specializing in regional authors.
“I know just the hound,” said Kathy, and she proceeded to track down John Colyer and see if he was available to howl a bit. He was. It turns out I’ve met John before, at one of our local library’s annual events to showcase area authors. And we renewed that acquaintance this very week when the library held another event. Like me, John focused on poetry for many years… but he’s also written a novel, recently released. Naturally, I asked him to tell us about it.
The War is Over
The civil war has ended and a young battle hardened 19-year-old ex-Confederate soldier is ready to put the war behind him and return to his home in southern Kentucky; a journey that will prove to be as hard and bloody as the war.
He finds a 12-year-old former slave girl lost in the wilderness; knowing the child can’t survive on her own, he assumes the unwanted responsibility of her well-being.
As if the responsibility of an orphaned child isn’t enough he finds himself building an unwanted reputation as a gunfighter.
Haunted by nightmares of the war, the responsibility of an orphan child, and his fast growing reputation of a gunman his journey home becomes a fight for survival.
- When did you start writing creatively and what type things did you first write about?
** JC – I was 7 years old when I read my first poem and I became fascinated with poetry; that fascination become a passion. Marty Robbins was also a big influence; I love his western ballads, the poetic and rhythmic play on words to tell a story. I started writing at the age of 10. Some of the first things I wrote were western gunfighter poems.
- How did you find Gibson-Ragle Publishing Co.?
** JC – I met Kathy Ragle (Gibson-Ragle Publishing) at a book signing shortly after my first book ‘A Gun and the Cross’ was published. Without mentioning names, I was unhappy with my publisher and I had two more books ready to be published — ‘Then the Darkness Comes’ and ‘Echoes of the Past’. We talked and I was impressed with her desire to help new authors so I asked if she would consider publishing my books. My first book ‘A Gun and the Cross’ was re-released under Gibson-Ragle Publishing Co. with a new cover and since then I’ve had five other books published through Gibson-Ragle Publishing Co.
- Have you ever encountered people who seem unable / unwilling to comprehend that writing poetry is something you are driven to do?
** JC – I would have to answer yes to this, though no one has ever really said anything. I do get some stranger looks when I tell them my writing is almost like an addiction, it’s something I have to do. I have all this stuff going through my head and I have to get it out.
- If you were not a poet / writer, can you imagine what else you might do to express the creativity within you?
** JC – If I were not a poet/writer I’d probably be a starving artist, a painter. I have dabbled with drawing over the years though I’m not very good at it; it was a point of interest when I was younger, but I never developed the same passion that I have for writing. I’ve once heard “A picture can paint a thousand words.” I say one hundred words can paint a thousand pictures.
- How would you describe the TYPE of poetry you write?
** JC – I’ve been asked this question a lot; there are so many different types of poetry I can’t remember the most of them. I usually describe my poetry as stories in rhyme, stories that everyone can relate to. Poetic stories that stirs the emotions and challenges the imagination.
- Give us at least one example of someone who has contacted you and expressed how much your poetry meant to them.
** JC – I was at a book signing here in Somerset last year (2015) when a young lady approached me, she said she had purchased my book ‘A Gun and the Cross’ for her father, a Vietnam veteran, at a prior signing. She said she read it before giving it to her father and she got a better understanding of what was buried inside his heart and mind, the things he couldn’t talk about.
Another lady from Tennessee sent me an e-mail, she said she purchase a copy of ‘Then the Darkness Comes’ and that she cried through most of it (which is the reaction I wanted from that particular book). She said it meant a lot to her because her father was a Korean Conflict veteran who wouldn’t talk about his time in service.
Most recently I had the pleasure of speaking to some young people at a middle school on career day, when I passed my books around to let them look through them. One young man stood and said one of the poems broke his heart and made him cry. He said he had a better understanding of what veterans go through and a lot more respect for them.
- I understand you also have a new western coming out soon. Tell us about that novel.
** JC – With six poetry books in publication this is my first novel, titled ‘The War is Over’. The story begins at the end of the Civil War; a nineteen year old ex-Confederate soldier haunted by nightmares of the war starts his journey home. Along the way he finds a 12 year old orphaned former slave girl which he reluctantly assumes the responsibility of her well-being. Aside from the nightmares and responsibility of a child he begins to develop an unwanted reputation of a gunfighter.
- What types of employment have you had during your working years?
** JC – In my early teens in Cincinnati, Ohio, I worked the train yards after school unloading box cars. I spent several years working in factories… didn’t care much for that. I’ve worked Security, Janitorial, Carpentry, and Construction. I’ve done some seasonal work in the hay and tobacco fields – that was real work.
- Which job was your favorite? And why? [Or… which PART of that job did you most enjoy?]
** JC – This one is really hard to answer because I’ve never had a job I didn’t like, but if I had to choose it would be Security. I worked a lot of bad areas in the city and there was always some excitement going on.
- Which job was your least favorite? And why? [Or… which PART of that job did you least enjoy?]
** JC – I would have to put the factories at the bottom of my list; though I enjoyed the work I didn’t like being restricted to one area. I’ve always like the freedom to move around as I pleased.
- What is one writing question you’ve WISHED had been asked of you… but never has been asked? Then answer it here.
** JC – Why Do You Write?
I write because it’s a passion, almost an addiction I suppose. I have a deep passion for poetry and I enjoy telling stories so I combine the two. I find it very therapeutic. It has helped me through some bad times in life when I felt everything was lost. It also gives me a reason to dig deep within myself to take a close look at the darker side within. A lot of my poetic stories have a personal story behind them. Some are drawn from people I’ve or seen on the streets. Some are nothing more than fantasy, but all are from the recesses of my heart and mind.
- I understand you’re a veteran. In what branch of the military did you serve? When?
** JC – I spent 12 years in the military between 1975 – 1987; though most of it was with the Ohio Army National Guard, I did pull a stint in the Army.
- How do you picture your typical reading audience?
** JC – I picture the common man/woman from age 35 and older, the hard worker struggling to get by day to day. These are the ones who can relate to my stories and say I’ve been there or I’m going through that now.
- What would you say (about your writing) to someone who’s trying to decide whether to buy one of your books?
** JC – Don’t judge a book by its cover and never judge a person by their outward appearance; you never know what is there ‘til you get inside. Do you want to see what goes on inside the heart and mind of a writer? Walk through the caverns of my mind and see things through my eyes; take a journey into the unknown. Step through the portals between reality and paranormal into a realm of darkness or spiritual light. Let these poetic stories take you on a journey of thrills and chills and stir your emotions both of joy and sorrow.
FB: John Colyer Storyteller Page
Have you got any questions for John?
[ JLS # 275 ]