In 1974 John Egenes saddled his young horse, Gizmo and set out to do the impossible. Together, the pair started down the trail on a quest to cross the North American continent. This is the true story of their seven-month adventure, a journey that took them across the United States, from ocean to ocean, across an America that no longer exists.
Have you ever just wanted to get away from it all and explore the world? John and his horse Gizmo did just that in the memoir, Man & Horse: The Long Ride Across America, that will take you back to the America of yesteryear, and to get us travelling, John has kindly returned to ItsWriteNow.com to chat. John, it’s great to see you back again, what’s been going on for you since we last caught up?
I’ve been busy writing a novel, which is a whole lot more difficult than writing the memoir was. I’ve also been writing music, producing records for people, doing recording session work, and performing live here and there. Also been doing a bit of leatherwork, making fancy carved leather covered guitars. Just sort of keeping my nose to the grindstone, so to speak.
Tell us a little bit more about your adventure in the world of novels. What’s it all about?
I’m writing a novel, set in the late 1960s in southern Texas and Mexico. It has adventure, intrigue, crime, and a whole bunch of wacky, oddball characters. And buried treasure… don’t forget the buried treasure.
You never want to forget that treasure. With this new novel, you’ve written both in fiction and non-fiction and expanded your skills as a writer. Do you still find the writing process exciting, or is it getting a little exhausting?
Both. It can be a chore, a plodding, exhausting thing that weighs you down until you think gravity is going to squash you like a bug. And it can be exhilarating, a tonic that makes you feel like you’ve plugged yourself into an endless power supply. I wish I knew how to tap into that power supply at will. Sadly, I’ll just have to keep struggling against the force of gravity.
You’ve already had some success battling against that gravity so I think your odds are good, especially when we acknowledge the success of your book, Man and Horse. For readers who are new to this book, what can you tell us about it and what inspired you to write it?
It finally bubbled to the surface after 40 years of simmering. I felt the time was right, and that I could finally look back and appreciate the ride for what it was, for its lifelong effects upon my Gizmo and me. I wrote with the advantage of wisdom and hindsight, and did my best to place it all within a perspective that readers can relate to.
So all the characters you and Gizmo meet in this book are all real?
Yes, they were all real, so I didn’t have to make them up [grin].
It’s handy not having to make stuff up. Were all the experiences that readers see all authentic as well, or did you decide to add a little extra to spice them up?
Being a memoir, this book was all about life experiences [laughs]. And yes, I managed to combine my experiences on the trail with earlier ones from childhood, with some comparisons to today’s world. I wrote with the perspective and knowledge that only comes with age, with looking back upon the miles traveled, and with knowing that what lies ahead will never be what you think it will be.
Tell us a little more about that perspective, knowledge and what you ultimately learnt from getting your journey down onto paper and into this book?
Writing a memoir sometimes took a lot out of me. Going back through old pictures and letters, reading diaries and logbooks, news clippings and magazine articles. It brought back the past in what seemed like an avalanche at times. But it was so rewarding, and I’m truly glad that I finally got on with the doing of it. I was surprised at some of the epiphanies I had during the writing of this book. I learned a lot more about myself than I had expected.
Did you also learn if you are left or right handed?
Both. I eat with my right hand, write with my left. Bat left handed, kick with my right. Shoot a rifle left handed and shoot pool right handed. Use my saddlemaking tools with either hand. Swing a hammer with either. Oftentimes, I’m not sure which hand or arm I’m meant to be using. I’ve always been a confused person.
*Laughs* Your confusion hasn’t held you back, so I think you’re fine! Other than the usefulness of using both hands on your travels, what did you really feel that it was important to share with readers in this book?
There were many little things I wanted to say, and I said them. But I think the main reason for writing the book was that I wanted to finally say thank you to a horse who was my companion for his entire life, and for a very large part of mine. And I wanted to do that, finally, in a very public way.
What a fantastic way to pay homage to one great companion. What kind of response have you received from people who have read this book and embraced your public thank you?
Gizmo and I have been warmly accepted by so many people from all over the world. The book has received more than 200 reviews, and almost all of them are 5 stars. It won a Gold Medal in the Readers’ Choice Awards. I must say, it is all very humbling, and I appreciate it so much. I’m so happy that my old pal, Gizmo, is finally getting the kudos he long deserved, and I only wish he was still here with us to bask in it all.
He’s definitely here in spirit. For those people who have fallen in love with your story (and of course Gizmo), where can people find you these days?
People can find me in a couple of places:
You’ll find some book excerpts to read on Gizmo’s and my website: http://johnandgizmo.com
And stop by and say hello on the Facebook page:
I’m sure you’ll get a few more readers dropping around there once they fall in love with Gizmo! I can’t wait to hear more about your next book so I’m going to let you return to your upcoming novel for now, but I’d like to thank you for coming back and sharing your adventure with Gizmo with myself and the readers today.
Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘Man & Horse: The Long Ride Across America ( ASIN: B075821TZ7 )‘.
Want to find out more about John Egenes? Connect here!