MWSA Interview with Joe Epley

Date of interview: 4 August 2017

Joe Epley is a guy who has worn many hats over his life -- Green Beret, television journalist,  public relations executive, change agent and now, novelist. 
     Joe led Epley Associates, a successful public relations firm in Charlotte, N.C., and achieved international recognition for his leadership in the field. He was president of the Public Relations Society of America, and at various times, head of its prestigious College of Fellows, Counselors Academy, and the PRSA Foundation.
       In addition to his day job, he continued his military service in the Reserves, mostly in Special Forces units,  retiring as a Master Sergeant.
       He was a co-founder and global chair of the Worldcom Public Relations Group, the world’s largest consortium of independent public relations firms. In addition to lecturing at universities and before professional groups throughout the world, he helped introduce the PR profession to Russia in the waning days of the Soviet Union. During his career, Joe held leadership roles in many organizations. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of The Marketing Alliance, a publicly traded life insurance brokerage firm that serves independent agents nationwide, and the Military Writers Society of America.
     Among Joe’s honors is the Public Relations Society of America's Gold Anvil, the highest award in the public relations profession for lifetime achievement. In addition to his election to the University of North Carolina’s Journalism School Public Relations Hall of Fame and the alumni hall of fame for the Defense Information School, he has been awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest award for noteworthy citizens.
     After selling his business in Charlotte in 2005, Joe retired with his wife to the wooded hills near Tryon, N.C. where he continues public service work in addition to researching and writing about the American Revolutionary War. 

MWSA: How long have you been associated with MWSA?

Joe Epley: I joined the MWSA in 2011.

MWSA: Why Why do you write about the Revolutionary War?

Joe Epley: I've always had an interest in history.  I remember walking the Kings Mountain battlefield as a kid and later, taking my own children on hikes there.  In my Special Forces training, we studied the partisan war exploits of Francis Marion - (AKA The Swamp Fox) who was the most famous guerrilla fighter for the American independence movement.
As I began studying the revolution more closely, I learned that there were more battles in South Carolina than in any other colony, and most were Americans fighting Americans in a bloody civil war that eventually drove the British out of the Carolinas.  Most of the participants were in militia units using partisan tactics employed today. Neither adversary has control of their area and conventional forces were not near. Yet history books have virtually ignored the Revolutionary War in the south.

MWSA: Why historical fiction instead of factual history?

Joe Epley: Several reasons.
 1) I can provide readers with a better understanding of the big picture through a series of human stories that include intrigue, adventure, romance, and day-to-day life in the era.  
2) In much of American history books and articles about the revolution, there are many conflicting facts, misleading statements, and lack of understanding of the people involved who are below the rank of general.
3) I chose to write ""A Passel of Hate"" about the battle of Kings Mountain because it was, as Theodore Roosevelt said, a ""brilliant victory that marked the turning point of the American Revolution."" Yet when most historians wrote about Kings Mountain, they failed to tell the story of the overmountain men, some traveling more than 300 miles without orders from higher authority.  While the story culminated on the battlefield, the real story was in the determination and hardships endured by those 'Liberty Men' who furnished their own horses, weapons, and food and lived in harsh conditions rarely experienced by modern society.  
4) The motivation of the partisans in that war usually was not the simple, noble catch phrases found in most histories, but rather a wide variety of reasons ranging from family influence to personal experiences or for personal gain. It was not unusual for men to switch sides.  
5) Since most of these side stories have not been documented or only partially recorded in family histories and pension statements, I use my creative skills to humanize the events and principals with plausible situations and dialog to supplement the facts that we know about events, people, and situations.

MWSA: You write about brutality on both sides.  Was life that cruel back then?

Joe Epley: As the war progressed,  actions of partisan fighters were motivated more and more by vengeance than by patriotism.  There were no prisons in the Carolina backcountry. If an adversary was captured, he might be turned loose with a pardon and promise never to pick up arms again.  But if the captive were suspected of undue causing harm such as burning houses, killing a friend or relative or another mischief, they would be beaten or executed, usually without trial.  Both sides had their share of rogues. There was little training or discipline in the small units that operated only when they felt there was danger in their region.
     Also, life was harsh back then. Families eked out a living on what little they could grow or hunt. There were no grocery stores.  Clothing had to be made from scratch -- creating the fibers from wool, flax or cotton, spinning thread and using a loom to make the cloth.  Most backwoods families rarely had more than one change of clothing, if that. Rifles were hand made by a few gunsmiths using primitive tools.

MWSA: What new books are you working on?

Joe Epley: There are hundreds of great stories in the Revolution. All require research and attention to detail. Phrases we take for granted today may not have been used back then.  For instance, I can't use 1780 dialog about a 'guerrilla fighter' because the word guerrilla was not mentioned before being used by the Spanish fighting the French in the early 19th century.  
     So to write another book, I have to spend considerable time in research if the finished story is to be true to the era.  To me, research is as enjoyable as the writing; so I take more time that some writers, particularly when I can't find answers to questions that nag me.
     But if the good Lord sees fit to keep me around a few more years, there probably will be another book, probably in the Passel series.

MWSA: How has MWSA helped you?

Joe Epley: I joined the organization initially to see what it was like to be with kindred spirits, and as many, to help promote my first book, ""A Passel of Hate.""  
     Having been in the leadership of the premier professional society for the public relations profession, I understand how a collective thinking of members can produce positive benefits.  MWSA is still in its infancy, but with more members volunteering their time and talents, we can be more than a book awards organization.  I think we can offer our members more regarding knowledge and skills in writing,  publishing, and marketing. 
     With dedicated leadership and motivated members, MWSA has the potential of bringing our kindred spirits closer together and being far greater value to its members.


MWSA Interview with Joyce Faulkner

Date of Interview:  4 August 2017

Joyce Faulkner is an author, publisher, graphic artist, and a retired chemical engineer. She is a past President of Military Writers Society of America and past Board member. She is also the past chairman of the Programming committee and with Betsy Beard cochaired the awards committee in 2016. Together with Pat McGrath Avery, she designs, writes feature articles for and produces the quarterly MWSA magazine, Dispatches. Through Red Engine Press, she also designs and produces the MWSA annual anthologies.

Joyce writes in several genres including historical fiction, mystery/thriller, Humor, and history. She has received awards from multiple organizations including MWSA. Her historical novels include "In the Shadow of Suribach,"(MWSA Gold, 2005, Bronze, Branson Stars and Flags, 2014), "Windshift," (Silver, Global ebook Award for Historical Fiction, 2014, Silver, Branson Stars and Flags, 2015, First Place for Historical Fiction, The Author Zone, 2015), and recently released "Vala's Bed." Her mystery/thriller is "Username," which received a Silver Medal for the audio version performed by MWSA member Michael D. Mullins.

She has several collections of short fiction including "Losing Patience," "Chance and other horrors," and "For Shrieking Out Loud," from her humor column on the, The Weekly Shriek.

Joyce's other works with writing partner Pat McGrath Avery include "Sunchon Tunnel Massacre Survivors," which received a Bronze for History from MWSA in 2008 and a Gold from Branson Stars and Flags, 2009. She has also designed and produced several children's books with Pat that include "Fun Days in South Padre Island, "Fun Days in Pittsburgh," (Third Place, The Author Zone, 2015), and "Fun Days in Kansas City." A children's adaptation of her novel, "Windshift," "Someday I'll Fly" by Rebecca Evans received First Place from The Author's Zone.

MWSA: How long have you been associated with MWSA?

Joyce Faulkner: 2005

MWSA: Tell us about your latest book.

Joyce Faulkner: Vala's Bed is historical fiction about the impact of the holicaust on a German war bride and her children. It was the result of a trip to Auschwitz in 2002. Shocked by own reaction to the events that took place there, I started a seventeen year journey to explore the various sides from the point of view of a child named Emo Johann Hess, who becomes EJ Logan and must come to terms that although he is now American and sees the world through mid-20th century American values, he is the product of Nazi Germany and the values it embraced. 

MWSA: What is your next project?

Joyce Faulkner: I am working on another historical fiction piece, this time set in my own hometown, Fort Smith, Arkansas, in the 1910s, called "Garrison Avenue." Fort Smith has a rich literary background as a frontier town with a "cowboys and indians" culture mixed with tales of the "hanging judge" Isaac Parker. However, "Garrison Avenue" focuses on a different era...when the townsfolk are transiting to a culture of business and theater and law and order. Now they worry about getting grants for their library and design proposals for paved roads and bridges and encouraging investments in electic parks and fancy hotels. And then, what might have been acceptable ten or twenty years before, a lynching, forces the town to look at itself in an entirely new way.

MWSA: What do you enjoy most about MWSA?

Joyce Faulkner: I love the stories. Regardless of genre, MWSA encourages authors to focus on veterans' stories and tales associated with our own a country, and in our relationships with friends and enemies around the world. It also supports writing technique and growth over time. And most of all, the organization provides authors with activities that encourages growth...wherever members are in their writing careers. 

MWSA: What do you hope comes next for MWSA?

Joyce Faulkner: I am hoping we will be able to provide opportunities for our members ...things like learning how to use podcasting to further our storytelling. I love when our events provide us with a better understanding of history or when it gives us a deeper a deeper look into techniques like blogging or short video. 

MWSA: What do you recommend for MWSA writers interested in writing historical fiction and history?

Joyce Faulkner: Travel. One to one interviews. Spending time in newspaper archives. Working with libraries and museums. Creating detailed timelines that combine history and your plotlines.


MWSA Interview with Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe (born Edgar Poe; January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, editor, and literary critic. Poe is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the macabre. He is widely regarded as a central figure of Romanticism in the United States and American literature as a whole, and he was one of the country's earliest practitioners of the short story. Poe is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre and is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction.[1] He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.
[Copied from Wikipedia]

MWSA: How did you find out about MWSA?

Edgar Allan Poe: Well, to tell you the truth, MWSA wasn't created until well after my death in 1849. Let's just say that I heard about MWSA from this Raven and decided to join your wonderful organization as soon as I could.

MWSA: Why did you become interested in writing?

Edgar Allan Poe: I first started writing (under a pseudonym Henri Le Rennet) while living in Boston.  I mostly wrote articles for a local newspaper. However, I must admit that my earliest attempts at writing didn't go too well, so I decided to join the Army in 1827.  I didn't like that job very much, so I figured I better start upping my writing game.

My experience in the US military and my interest in writing is what first made me consider joining MWSA.  They are uniquely qualified to help out authors like me, who have a connection with the military.

MWSA: You often write about disturbing subjects such as murder, revenge, torture, the plague, being buried alive, and insanity.  Why is that?

Edgar Allan Poe: That's a difficult question to answer.   Perhaps it's because I often write during dreary midnight hours-- and often while I'm pondering weak and weary.  I guess that has tended to make my writing a bit dark.

MWSA: Is there any significance to the title of your third volume of poetry?

Edgar Allan Poe: Well, since I went out on a limb and titled that collection "Poems," I guess you could say that there isn't a whole lot of significance.

MWSA: What writing projects are you considering now?

Edgar Allan Poe: I think I mentioned the fact that I'm dead; so most of my projects are already done.

MWSA: Do you have any suggestions for our current MWSA authors?

Edgar Allan Poe: Other than writing as often as they can, and that they consider hiring a talented editor, I'd suggest that they take the time to create an MWSA interview so that it can be posted to this website.  That way, they'll be able to get the word out about who they are and what writing projects they're considering.