Welcome to Hound Day, Phil
By Jeff Salter
I’ve not yet had the opportunity to meet Jonathan Phillip Godbey, but his publisher, Kathy Ragle, said Phil was the author I needed to invite to 4F1H. Phil becomes the fifth author I’ve hosted from the writing stable of Gibson-Ragle Publishing Company.
In the interview, you’ll see several aspects that interested me, but I was especially intrigued to find his setting (for the newest title in his series) is right here NEAR Cumberland Falls. [You’ll soon see why I put “near” in caps.]
Without further introduction, come meet Phil and then let’s hear what he has to say.
Jonathan Phillip Godbey, 27 years old, lives in Leslie County [Kentucky] and is a full time pastor. Dedicated husband and father. Writing has been a passion of his for many years. Trackforce is set in his home state of Kentucky where he is so proud to represent and show a fictional side of this wonderful state.
- Like you, I’ve lived in Georgia. In my case, Macon… for two years as a kid and later for my college freshman year. What would you say are the similarities between Rome GA and Somerset KY? What are the differences?
[*** JPG ***] — I don’t really remember much about Rome GA I was just born there but I did spend a lot of time Fairmount. Fairmount is a very small town north of Atlanta. There are not many similarities between Fairmount and Somerset expect for the moral fabric of society. As far as differences, Somerset is now a booming city while Fairmount is just a small spot on a map.
- Besides currently pastoring two small churches, what jobs have you held?
[*** JPG ***] — I’ve had a wide range of vocations ranging from Save A Lot employee (stocking milk and getting the carts from the parking lot) and moving furniture at a furniture store. I was a bookkeeper for a few months for the county clerk and I even worked at a sawmill. The ministry has been by far the best and hardest career.
- Your bio shows a variety of interests — from wrestling to writing. Why / how did those diverse interests become important to you?
[*** JPG ***] — Wrestling became my outlet my escape from reality if you will. See, my family was broken for the most part and it was a way (just for a few hours) I could just watch and forget my problems. It was also what me and my dad did together we would just sit and watch it together. Writing was the same for me — I could imagine a whole new world in my head and just escape.
- I’m really intrigued to know how Pro Wrestling led you to meet your future wife. And since she’s a big fan of your writing, tell us if your wife also writes.
[*** JPG ***] — My wife and I actually met on a wrestling based message board dedicated to wrestling fans. We messaged for a while just as wrestling fans. That led to talking on Chat, then Facebook, then texting, then to phone calls. From phone calls to love and meeting each other. She was living in Indiana at the time and I was in Georgia. From there it led to marriage. My wife can do anything she wants to do — she’s so smart and extremely talented. She has written a children’s book but it has not yet been published.
- You live in a small mountain town which is near the famous Harlan KY. Have you encountered any prejudice from “big city” folks in which they’ve allowed common misperceptions to shape their views of most residents in your area?
[*** JPG ***] — I’ve encountered several people who diminish the intelligence of someone from a rural area like Harlan. They often hear a southern accent and automatically deduct IQ points. Folk often fear Harlan because of the coal wars in the 70’s. Because of the coal wars Harlan was nicked named “Bloody Harlan.” I suppose society still tends to look down on us. However we are doing our best to prove them wrong.
- Explain how / why S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders” had such an impact on you (as a youngster). Were you much of a reader before encountering that book in seventh grade?
[*** JPG ***] — I have read a lot of books as a younger child such as Boxcar Children and Goosebumps. There was just something about the way S.E. Hinton could reveal everything I was feeling as a teenage boy. Which is why she is still my favorite author. She’ll never know how much she impacted my life.
- Your bio mentions your eye problem. Would you care to elaborate on how you’ve overcome that obstacle?
[*** JPG ***] — I don’t even think about it. I’ve never not remembered being blind in my left eye so I don’t know any different. I guess the only obstacle I’ve had to overcome was driving. I can’t see very well but at night it’s worse so I don’t like driving much. With being able to type almost everything now-a-days that has eliminated a lot of my handwriting problems.
- I know many authors who (in their entire career) may not have an author event in a big name store. Tell us about your experience with Barnes & Noble.
[*** JPG ***] — The Barnes & Noble experience was a very humbling one. I thought just by being a local author or someone born in that area would somehow bring people in. When it didn’t I was very disappointed and had even considered to quit writing — but I’m too passionate to stop. That being said I would do another event like that in a heartbeat if given the chance.
- A lot of writers have “dry spells” — such as yours, between high school and married life. During that time, how did your creative urges express themselves?
[*** JPG ***] — Mostly though music all kinds of music from country to gospel to hip hop and everything in between. I love to sing and play guitar. I did write a little poetry for my wife before we got married.
- Your stories about a giant underground town beneath Cumberland Falls sound quite interesting. What nudged you in the direction of a “local” setting… but with such an unusual twist?
[*** JPG ***] — I thought it would be so intriguing if there was an underground society in the midst of a conglomerate tourist attraction and yet nobody knows it’s there. I’ve been to Cumberland Falls several times and there are definitely places where one can get lost. So in my mind I constructed an entire town… which is the basis of the setting for all the books.
- Have you encountered any congregation members who “disapprove” of their pastor writing fiction? [No names, please.]
[*** JPG ***] — No. Actually, everyone has been really supportive of my books. Several have helped with encouragement and some have read and enjoyed them very much.
- If sales (money) and critics (reviews) were immaterial to you, what genre and length would you write?
[*** JPG ***] — I would still stick with mystery fiction. That to me is the most fulfilling part — taking people on this journey with all the plots and twists that go along with it.
- Have you ever encountered people who seem unable / unwilling to comprehend that writing is something you are driven to do?
[*** JPG ***] — I’m sure there were some who thought it was just a senseless hobby but nobody has said to my face that I shouldn’t be writing.
- If you were not a writer, can you imagine what else you might do to express the creativity within you?
[*** JPG ***] — Honestly no. I enjoy music and other things but writing allows me to escape from everything while also getting lost in this fiction world that I made up. Which allows me to express myself in the purest form. So, no, I can’t imagine what I would do if I couldn’t write.
- Give us at least one example of someone who has contacted you and expressed how much your writing meant to them.
[*** JPG ***] — A lady at my church got the books and mentioned more than once how much she enjoyed them. My aunt (who now is a principal at a middle school) has contacted me about teaching my books to some of her classes. She would have but my first book deals with the death of the main character’s mother and a kid in class had just lost his mom.
- In the conversations (about writing) that you’ve had over the years, what is one writing question which you’ve WISHED had been asked of you… but never has been asked?
[*** JPG ***] — I would loved to be asked: Where do I see my books going, what market would they be in and would I like to turn it into a TV series?
- What’s your answer to # 16 above?
[*** JPG ***] — I would love to be a best selling author. I don’t think anyone sets out to do something with the anticipation of failure. My market is driven by a teen demographic and, yes, I would love to see my books as a television series.
Set under the tourist attraction of Cumberland Falls — this investigative team uses first rate technology, intense training, and (most of all) an undeniable love for one another to crack the complex case. Danger hits to close to home for the Trackforce team as they attempt to unravel the mystery, causing the team members to suspect each other. Can one trust the other or will this most elite force crumble to the ground?
Blog readers, Phil would appreciate your input on this:
When you think of undercover police officers that are the best of the best… what comes to mind?
[JLS # 385]