I would like to introduce "The Memorable Mike Ragland" as our "Author of the Month" for the month of February. Here is the personal interview that we were blessed with.
Candie & Michelle: Tell us about yourself.
Mike Ragland: I was born and raised in the Cotton Mill village of Lindale, Georgia. Both Parents were avid readers. I can remember my mother being in a Book of the Month Club, and I still have some of those books. She died when I was fifteen.
I worked in the Mill during the summers, and J.C. Penney's during the year while finishing Pepperell High. Graduating in 1963, I joined the Navy and Volunteered for Submarine Duty.
I received orders to the USS Chopper ( SS 342 ) home ported in Key West. For the next three and a half years we visited nearly ever major port on the east coast. We were in the North Atlantic on barrier patrol, in Cuba counting Russian ships. Spent six months with the sixth fleet in the Mediterranean. Visited many Caribbean ports, and a couple in South America.
After being discharged, I applied for and was accepted by the Rome Police Department where I remained for forty years, rising to the Rank of Major.
Retiring in April 2007, I began my Writing Career....
Candie & Michelle: Thank you for your service to our country and the city of Rome. Have you always known you wanted to be a writer? Did anything happen to push you in that direction?
Mike Ragland: I've always enjoyed hooking words together and reading a variety of books. The last fifteen years I was on the P.D., one of my duties was being principal grant writer.
After retiring, I wondered what I would do to occupy my time. Everyone says they're going to travel (my wife is disabled, and I knew that wasn't going to happen). Being a fan of history, I thought about writing some columns for the local newspaper on little known local facts. I sent in a few and they printed them. After a year of columns, I thought it was time to try a novel.
Candie & Michelle: All of your fans are glad you chose to write your books. :) What was the hardest part in getting your writing career started?
Mike Ragland: Wow! Let's see. The discipline to make myself sit and begin. It still is. I don't write on a deadline, nor on a contract. I write because I enjoy it, when I enjoy it. To me it's not a case of have to, it's a case of want to. Strange as it may sound, I may go days without writing a word. Then one or two of my characters will get in my head and start telling me what's going on in their lives, where they are, where they're going, and where the story is going. I basically just follow along, watching them, taking dictation. This may last an hour or two, or go on for days. When it's the latter, with the story pouring forth, I get very little rest. Those are the times I love. When characters come to life, it's a great moment.
Candie & Michelle: Yes it is. My characters usually are born by visiting me in my dreams first. For those who haven’t read your books yet how would you describe your writing style?
Mike Ragland: I write in a thing called third person unlimited, which means I'm the invisible guy in the room, the fly on the wall, just taking dictation. I have no more idea what the characters are going to do next, no more than the reader does. I use a lot of dialogue. That's what makes the story take off. I'm not big on descriptive narrative. I won't spend two pages telling you she wore a blue dress. There are pitfalls with the style I use. If you're not careful, you can have so many characters the reader gets lost. I have to be careful with that. My books are action packed and are on the fast line. I've had to add slow down spots so readers can catch their breath.
Candie & Michelle: I know a lot of friends that love to read a fast paced book. I'll have to ask them if they have read yours. :) Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Mike Ragland: Even though I write historical fiction, I want to have as much fact in the story as possible. In the latest, "Time to Gather Stones", it's set in the Southern mountains in 1715-16. The story is fiction, but the way the Native Americans live, eat, and dress is correct. The research that precedes my novels is as correct as I can make it.
Candie & Michelle: That's what makes your books so great. What is something you do to overcome writer’s block?
Mike Ragland: I really seldom have a block. I usually write when I feel the characters have something to say. I don't struggle that way. Since I'm in no hurry or on a timeline, it comes pretty easy.
Candie & Michelle: That's good. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Mike Ragland: There are several. John Steinbeck, Clive Cussler, Mark Twain, Louis L'amour, and, my favorite, Earnest Hemingway. I've enjoyed them all. They were masters of the simple word. They never use a page when a paragraph will do.
Candie & Michelle: All amazing choices! If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Mike Ragland: Probably "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck.... Why ..??... Because it deals with a little known time in history.... The great Dust Bowl in the midwest during another traumatic time in history.. The Depression.. Then takes into account the great Migration from Oklahoma to California... With a lot of Biblical paraphrasing built into the Story.... A classic indeed.....
Candie & Michelle: That book is definitely a great choice! As a whole which character has been your favorite “good guy” to write about? Who has been your favorite villain?
Mike Ragland: Let me reverse the order of the Question. Bertha, the title of my first book was a great villain. I guess because she was a real person. Indicted and tried twice for poisoning her second husband. Indicted for poisoning her parents. Accused but never investigated for killing her two week old baby, she manipulated both men and women. A pure sociopath before the word was invented. My favorite hero would have to be "Liube" in my latest story, "A Time to Gather Stones". She had to endure so many personal tragedies, and yet was able to do so with style and grace. I think we may meet her again in another segment.....
Candie & Michelle: Both sound like unforgettable characters. :) Out of all your books do you feel like there is a particular character you relate to the most?
Mike Ragland: Probably Frank Russell, the Chief investigator in "Bertha." I policed for 40 years and investigated many murder cases just as Frank is doing. Yes, we used different techniques, but it still consist a lot of leg work.
Candie & Michelle: :) Is there anywhere that you have traveled to that has inspired you to use it one of your upcoming books?
Mike Ragland: I Love the Southern Mountains. I used them extensively in "Stones". I also like the Southern port cities of New Orleans, Mobile, Savannah, and Charleston. Look for any of those to appear in future novels as we travel back in time....
Candie & Michelle: Can't wait! What book are you reading now?Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Mike Ragland: I am a big Terry Kay fan. Presently reading the "Valley of Light" for the third time. Not for contact, but just to see how he strings words together. I think he's a modern master. Now, for a new author. Hmm, that would have to be Victoria Wilcox. Her attention to detail and research is impeccable. I've been fortunate to have attended book signings and sharing a table wit her.... Just listening is a seminar in itself....
Candie & Michelle: We will have to check them both out. What advice would you give to your younger self?
Mike Ragland: Read even more than I did, in different genres. Read everything you can get your hands on. When in college, grab a creative writing class or two.
Candie & Michelle: Good advice. What advice do you give to other aspiring authors?
Mike Ragland: The same thing everybody says. Write, and keep writing. You learn to write by putting words on paper...
Candie & Michelle: Completely agree. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Mike Ragland: No matter how much you write, nor how good you become, after you've finished all your rewrites... Make sure you have a good editor.
Candie & Michelle: :)
Thank you so much Mike for taking the time to sit down with us. We both feel blessed to be featuring you this month.
-Candie and Michelle
You can follow Mike on the following social media sites:
Facebook Page: Mike Ragland Writes
Add him on Facebook: Mike Ragland
You can order his books at: