Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one-hundred and thirty-eighth, is of children’s author Joe Means.
Joe Means was born in Youngstown, Ohio (September 7, 1956) he was raised on a farm, where he did chores and grew a vegetable garden. He spent a lot of time reading in his early years and grew up with authors such as: Arthur C. Clark, Isaac Asimov, Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, and even Douglas Adams. They filled his mind with wonderful far off places, where danger and wonderous discoveries lurked around every corner.
During his youth, NASA launched missions into space and even landed on the moon. At that time, it was the childhood dream of most children, to become an astronaut and explore the farthest reaches of space and time. TV shows like; Lost in Space, Star Trek, The Outer Limits, Night Gallery, and My Favorite Martian, flooded air waves and every young boy stayed tuned in to the never ending supply of new adventures.
And now from the author himself:
The early 1960s was a great time to be a kid. Everything was stable and most children had a safe and comfortable home. Everything was looking up and the future was bright with endless possibilities. The kingdom of Camelot was in full bloom.
I was born in Youngstown, Ohio (September 7, 1956) and was raised on a farm, where I did chores and grew a vegetable garden. We were far from rich, but we were not poor either. The second oldest of a family of five and the oldest male, I worked hard and tried my best to learn everything I could about everything.
After high school, I enlisted in the Army and became an Airborne Ranger at Ft. Stewart, Georgia. It was an amazing time as we traveled to many places that I had only ever dreamed of, like: Panama, Alaska, and Germany. That is when I was bitten by what the Germanys called: Wanderlust! I fell in love with different cultures and different lands. My life as a gypsy had begun.
After the military I attended the Alabama Aviation and Technical College in Ozark, Alabama and graduated with honors, and received my Airframe and Powerplant License. This license became my passport to travel.
My first job in aviation was at Grand Isle, Louisiana, where I began applying my trade. Grand Isle was another bite of different cultures and I began writing about the Creole food and the Cajun people, which I met there. The different ways they spoke, their food, and their different mannerisms.
My next job took me back to Alabama, where again, my northern upbringing was assailed with a more laid back sort of living, where slow pace of life was governed more by the sun than a clock.
From there, I was offered a job in Germany. My lucky day! Living in Wiesbaden, was a dream come true. I could write travel logs about all the journeys that my family and I went on and what was even better, the internet was beginning to blossom so I had an outlet to let others know about the wonderful places we explored.
I could not wait till the weekend to map out a different castle, forest, fest or even a different country to discover. Weekends were a time of discovery and learning. All of Europe was at our fingertips. Where traveling a few hours, we could be in the mountains, on a lake, or in a different country, practicing the few words we learned of the language and discovering their food, their culture and their history.
While in Germany, I had to chance to deploy with the unit I was working with [5/6 CAV] to Saudi Arabia where I kept a journal of the daily events of the First Gulf War. After the war, I later typed it into my computer and e-mailed the whole experience to family and friends. I feel that this gave them a better understanding and appreciation of the hardships that the servicemen and women went through during that time.
After that, I went to Turkey with a small group of soldiers and civilians to a remote outpost near the ancient city of Diyarbakir. What an incredible history this country has, traced back to the Garden of Eden.
My rich exposés were filled with the Battles of Normandy in my next trip to Honfleur, France in 1995, where our maintenance team took care of the multitude of aircraft that flew in for the 50th anniversary of the Normandy “D” Day Invasion June 6, 1944. I was amazed at all the information that I learned about the 2nd world war and all the incredible men and women that served.
Later, my journals grew as I chronicled the Invasion of Baghdad, and the war in Afghanistan, from the many sites that I worked in during both wars.
Over the years, I have written many stories about the men and women that I met from the armed forces of the many nations that participated in these wars. Their stories ranged from heartbreaking to triumphant in as many scenarios as you can imagine.
Needless to say, I enjoy writing. Recently, I have begun a series of children’s books that I call, The Millie and Honey Series. The first book: CATATONIA is currently out now and the second book, APPLEOPOLIS will be out later this fall.
I also write a blog that is more like a series of short stories about the characters in the books. It is fun to set up a story about one of the characters and develop them more than what is in the books and it gives the readers a more personal glimpse into the persona of each character.
Currently, my wife, Rose, and I, and our 4 children (Honey, Thomas, Rags, and Archie) live in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where I work as a Maintenance Planning Supervisor for Global Aerospace Logistics in Abu Dhabi. We love the people here and the rich culture and ancient history of the region. There is no place on earth like the U.A.E.
You can find more about Joe and his books and weekly blog via: http://www.millieandhoney.com and also Author’s Den and Wattpad.
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with portal fantasy author Jinn Nelson – the five hundred and fifty-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.