Chuck Waldron is the author of four riveting mystery, thriller and suspense novels and more than fifty short stories. Inspired by his grandfather’s tales of the Ozark Mountains and local caves rumored to be havens for notorious gangsters, Waldron was destined to write about crime and the human condition. With literary roots planted in the American Midwest and South, and enriched by the fertile culture of metropolitan Ontario, Waldron now resides on Florida’s fabled Treasure Coast with his wife, Suzanne. While keeping an eye out for hurricanes, alligators, and the occasional Burmese python, visitors will find Waldron busy writing his next thriller.
Background and influences
Born and raised in a medium-sized city in Iowa, I thought about what to tell you about my experience and decided to reach back to some very early memories. My father used to tell my younger brother and me wonderful stories about a family of friendly ghosts. I can still hear him talking about them, Who-am-I, Where-am-I, What-am-I, and a whole cast of characters based on that theme.
His father was an Ozark Mountain story-teller and could tell stories that would weave truth and fiction into fascinating tales. When I was 10 or 11, one of his stories sent me searching his farm, looking for the cave where he told me Jesse James hid money from one of the gang’s bank robberies. Alas, I never found it. Go figure
When I realized I inherited the BS gene, why not put it to good use?
During my working years, my writing was mostly confined to letters, some professional papers and more memos than I care to remember. It was hard to write memoranda without slipping in something whimsical or funny to see if anyone was paying attention.
Retired is an odd word for me. I no longer work for a paycheck, but I now spend more hours per week writing than I ever did working for pay. My working life was launched after my discharge from the U.S. Army (1955-1958), I worked as an office clerk, construction, truck driver, real estate salesman and letter carrier. Those are the ones I remember.
In the mid-sixties, I finally cashed in some of my VA benefits, ending up with a graduate degree in Social Work. My professional career started with children’s mental health services and ended up with non-profit management, oddly enough, not with kids, but services for seniors. I guess I was preparing for my own retirement age.
That professional career stretched from Illinois to Ontario to Florida and ended in Georgia.
I almost forgot to add that my wife and I both quit our jobs in 1985 and moved onto our sailboat for three years before starting our careers again.
Had I not slept through high school English classes, I would know when to put in a comma or take one out. If I used my VA benefits mastering creative writing, my career might likely be very different.
As it was, I stumbled into a world of creative writing, unleashing my imaginary character friends, beginning with a class on short stories as a community college in Sarasota, FL. As a therapist providing mental health services for abused children at that time I really, really needed an escape from the job realities.
That was in 1988, and twenty-five years later I can’t stop writing. To help me develop my writing skills I have been a part of writing groups and classes in Florida, Georgia, and Ontario. A particular highlight was a wonderful three weeks at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop summer program a few years back. My writing was trashed by a creative writing grad student. He said there was a lack of organic, textual in my writing, whatever that meant. Fortunately, the workshop director pulled me aside and told me to ignore that and keep writing “a good story, well-told.”
Turning back to that first class on short stories, my very first short story was called Tears in the dust. When I retired in 2004, I sat down one night and wondered if I could write a back story and carry it forward. I wasn’t completely sure of where I was going. What I lacked in the technical part of story-arch, sub-plots and all the other elements I worked at creating what I thought were interesting characters and having them do interesting things.
That carried on with Remington and the Mysterious Fedora and then Served Cold.
I started with historical fiction, moved on to fantasy, and then a thriller.
I jumped in with both feet with The CleanSweep Conspiracy. I knew I wanted to write a thriller and figured a dystopian view would serve to tell the story best. That title has now led me to write a sequel, coming summer 2017. I love my character, Matt Tremain. Why not go for a trilogy, I thought. The third in the series is now under construction.
You asked about writing and the impact on time with family, etc. I have enjoyed the support of my wife, Suzanne, throughout. If I’m “in the zone” and tell her, she not only leaves me alone but stands guard at the door to prevent interruptions. On the other hand, she’s not reluctant about claiming valuable family time.
But I’m rarely without a notebook or recorder. I’m thinking about characters and stories when I’m riding a bike, walking on the beach, or other activities.
Along with reaching retirement age goes increasing family health issues. Both of my parents passed in the ten years I’ve been retired. My wife’s father is now gone, and we’ve moved to Florida to be able to provide support for her medically fragile mother. Until her passing, that was job number one, just ahead of writing.
Suzanne and I take time to volunteer at the world’s largest chimpanzee sanctuary just a few minutes from where
We travel, go out for dinner; go to movies and the stuff that makes life fun. My vice now that I have quit smoking is an occasional trip to a casino. Thankfully it wasn’t necessary to give up wine.
With four church missions to Cuba under my belt, I still trying to learn conversational Spanish.
Everything I have written, beginning with the first sentence above, is all mixed up somewhere in my writing, as it is with us all.
I can’t imagine a life without writing now.
If I’m not creating great literature that will someday be dissected by English majors, I know I’m crafting compelling stories, well-told.
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