Author interview with John Egenes of ‘Man & Horse: The Long Ride Across America’

Author Interview with John Egenes

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:

https://facebook.com/johnandgizmo

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!

Author interview with John Egenes of ‘Man & Horse: The Long Ride Across America’

Author Interview with John Egenes

In 1974 John Egenes rode his young horse across the United States. The book is a recollection, a memoir, and a look back at an America that no longer exists. It’s about a young man coming to terms with himself, and how a little Quarter Horse named Gizmo showed him how to do that. Ride with them on a journey that could only be experienced step by step, mile by mile, with a view from between a horse’s ears.

 

“What a gem this book is. I loved each and every page.” ~Amazon Review

 

 

Do you wish you could see the America of yesteryear? Want to be guided by a gem of a pair? Then you need to pick up a copy of ‘Man & Horse: The Long Ride Across America’, straight after you meet the human side of the team, John Egnes. John, it’s lovely to see you back at ItsWriteNow.com. What’s been going on since we last chatted in January?

Well, you know what they say… every day above ground’s a good day. I’ve just been keeping my nose to the grindstone, teaching, writing and recording music, and getting well into writing a novel.

 

 

Indeed, those are good days! Good to hear that you’re well into a novel. What can you tell us about it, and perhaps a little of your other writing projects?

I’m always involved in songwriting, so that’s an ongoing proposition. As a university researcher in music, I do a bit of academic writing as well. But what’s driving me these days is a new novel I’m hatching that takes place in Mexico and Texas in 1968. It has a lot of wacky characters in it and I hope to coax an entertaining tale out of it all.

 

 

I’m sure you’ll manage to get a suitably thrilling tale out of those wacky characters. Wacky characters do make interesting reading! Since we last chatted, do you feel that you’ve started to change how you’re approaching your writing journey from feedback that you’ve received from readers, or others?

The book seems to have touched a lot of people, and I am humbled by so many profound responses from them. It is heartening to have made a tiny difference in a person’s life, and I’m so glad I got the chance to do that, and that it continues.

 

 

It’s wonderful that it continues. But for some readers, it hasn’t started yet. So let’s wind back our chat a little so that we can introduce some of our newer readers to the world of the US in 1974, and the life of Man and Horse. For our new readers, this book is all drawn directly from your life, correct?

Yes, this was my life’s learning experience, not only at the time of the ride but throughout the years afterward. So yes, I drew upon my entire life in looking back upon those seven months in 1974.

 

 

Gizmo, your horse, is one half of dynamic duo that readers will follow throughout the book. How did you and Gizmo come to be together?

I raised him from a six-month-old weanling colt and he was with me all his life until he passed away at twenty-two. He and I were two peas in a pod, I reckon.

 

 

From what I’ve read about the two of you, I completely agree! So, on your ride, how did you and Gizmo meet new people and characters for the book?

Usually very slowly, as Gizmo and I rode up to them. We were blessed with a wonderful array of characters, as varied and wildly different as they could possibly be.

 

 

*Laughs* I can imagine! And I’m sure Gizmo loved meeting each and every one of them! One of the big things I got from Man & Horse was that Gizmo was pretty awesome. Was the bond between a man and his horse the most important thing you wanted to share with readers?

There probably wasn’t a single most important thing, though there were quite a few things I wanted to say. Instead of revealing it, I’ll let the readers decide which are the most important to them.

 

 

I think that’s a good strategy. Looking back, what do you felt you learnt by sitting down and putting your experiences onto paper?

Besides learning to deal with a huge cathartic undertaking, I have learned a lot about the book publishing business, though I’m still a babe in the woods. Fortunately for me, I’m the curious type and always look forward to new things.

 

 

Was learning how to write, how to deal with the emotions and all about the book publishing business exhausting, or were you energised by the process?

It can do both sometimes, but mostly it energizes me. I reckon that’s why I’m writing this at 3:15 in the morning.

 

 

So, when you’re sitting down at 3:15 am, for example, tapping away on a tale at your keyboard, what are you usually thinking about?

I try to picture myself in the scene… like I’m literally there. And since I’ve always talked to myself, it’s not much of a stretch to place myself in a scene with other characters and talk with them. I do wish I were better at character dialogue, though.

 

 

Well, practice makes perfect. And with a new book in the midst, you’ll certainly be getting a little practice. With this new book, do you feel that you’re starting to see a progression in your writing and voice?

I hope it has. We’ll see. The proof’s in the pudding. I try to work to my strengths, to stay with what I know, but I also try to push my boundaries a bit, too.

 

 

The last time we spoke, you mentioned that you weren’t really into creating an author brand. Have you pushed your boundaries at little to explore branding?

I’m not much into branding or any of that sort of thing. I just do what I do and let others worry about what it is and what it isn’t.

 

 

Fair enough, best leave it to the experts! And let’s take a few minutes out from pretending we’re writing experts and have a little fun with some quirky questions! Let’s start with what is your favourite word?

Kaybo Swabber (“KIE-bow SWAB-buhr”): the person who cleans the portable toilets.

 

 

Oh, that’s a new one for me! And I haven’t met anyone employed in that area either, but there’s still time! What is your zodiac sign?

Aries, Aries rising, with moon in Aquarius

 

 

Very precise! Are you left or right-handed?

Ambidextrous. Always confused, though. I do some things right handed and some left-handed, and I often forget which one I’m supposed to be using.

 

 

*Laughs* I’m not sure there are any hard and fast rules, whatever works should be fine! We know that you love to do lots of different work. If our readers wanted to check up on some of the stuff you’ve been working on, where can they find it online?

Well, you might want to check out my Bandcamp site, where you can download all my music for free. It’s at:

https://johnegenes.bandcamp.com/

 

I’ve been putting up a few excerpts from “Man & Horse” on the website, so if you haven’t read the book and want to take a look at it, go here:

http://johnandgizmo.com/the-book/

 

 

I’m still at the facebook pages and on Twitter and GoodReads, so please stop by and say hello. Indeed we will! But until then, I’m afraid we’ll have to say goodbye, but let’s say goodbye on a high note. And the high note of today will be your favourite line from Man & Horse. What can you recommend?

“Unrequited love to the sound of a steel guitar.”

 

 

What a great picture of leave in our heads from this interview! John, thanks so much for chatting with me today and letting people know about Gizmo, and I hope to hear from you soon when we chat about your next book!

 

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!

Author interview with John Egenes of ‘Man & Horse: The Long Ride Across America’

Author Interview with John Egenes

‘Man & Horse: The Long Ride Across America’ is a memoir that tells the tale of the journey taken by John Egenes in 1974 with his young horse, Gizmo. Together they rode across the United States, coast to coast, seven months, forty four hundred miles.

 

 

Have you ever wanted to ride across the American wilderness? John Egenes and his horse Gizmo has done just that, and has kindly taken a few minutes from his day to recount his forty-four hundred mile adventure documented in ‘Man & Horse: The Long Ride Across America’. John, what can readers expect to see in ‘Man & Horse’?

The book describes some of our adventures, along with some personal history and homespun philosophy thrown in for good measure. It’s a tale of challenge and accomplishment.

 

 

I’m sure there are one or two readers out there who may not believe that you rode coast to coast across America, so can you confirm for the sceptics among us that your book was all your personal experience.

This was all life experience. It took me a very long time to finally write this book. In waiting many years to write it, I was able to paint the picture with a much broader brush and, hopefully, arrive at a vantage point from which I could view the experience from a more contemplative place.

 

 

Do you feel it was a good move to wait until you’d reached that more contemplative place?

I’m glad I waited, because I was able to view the ride with enough hindsight and (I hope) wisdom that I could put it into a proper perspective, for both myself and the reader. I tried to intersperse the past and the present, and to illustrate how very different America was back in 1974–an America that no longer exists.

 

 

I love that juxtaposition between the past and the present that you tried to create to show these changes. Since it’s been a few years since 1974 how did you make sure the characters and American life from that time was accurately portrayed?           

I kept a logbook on the ride and I used it to jog my memory. I was able to recall characters I’d forgotten about, and they’d come back to me as vivid as the day I met them. It was such a profound experience, going over old maps and reading a diary that I hadn’t looked at in many years. So many unique and wonderful folks that Gizmo and I met along the way.

 

 

I’m sure that what made it into the book was only half of the amazing and unique encounters that you had on your travels. What was the most important aspect that you hope people take from your journey with Gizmo?

I wanted people to know what a wonderful horse Gizmo was, and how lucky I was to have had him as my compatriot for his entire life. I hope I did him justice in all of it, though I’m not really sure if that’s possible.

 

 

It’s hard to feel like you’ve given justice to a compatriot like Gizmo who took up such a large part of your life, but I’m sure you did him justice. You wouldn’t have published it otherwise. Looking back how do you feel that you have been personally rewarded by looking back on your adventure and documenting it for others?

Just the fact that I could do it, I reckon. I set out to put words on the page and just kept at it. Eventually, the book just sort of popped out, though it took an incredible amount of editing and other work to finally publish it. I have a huge, newfound respect for authors now.

 

 

Was editing one of the areas where you experienced the greatest amount of learning?

Being a songwriter, I know a bit about editing, so that wasn’t as difficult as it might be for first time authors. But being introduced to the whole publishing thing, well…. that’s a whole different deal. I was a babe in the woods (still am, for that matter), and I’ve been fortunate to meet incredible people who have helped me along the way.

 

 

I agree, there are some amazing people out there who have fantastic advice for all of those new authors who feel like a babe in the woods. Have these incredible people inspired you to work hard to develop your own author brand to distinguish your work so that you feel less like a newbie?

I’ve produced record albums for a lot of people, so I do know a little about creating an author brand. But I don’t pay much attention to that sort of thing for myself. I just write, put it out there for the world to see, and maybe try to promote it a little. Hopefully, if it’s any good, people will find it.

 

 

I like that method of giving it a little help, but ultimately allowing the work to speak for itself. What is it about writing books or even songs that keeps drawing you back to write another work that will speak for itself?

I like to write, probably because I’ve always loved to read, and I like nothing more than reading a brilliant writer. And though I certainly don’t place myself among the brilliant writers of the world, they do set the bar for me and give me something to shoot for.

 

 

Becoming close to the world of brilliant writers is a great start! When you’re thinking of starting a new project, what do you do to make sure your storyline in shooting in the right direction? Do you like to plan out where you’re going to make sure you hit your target, or do you let it unravel as you write?

I think it’s a bit of both. The way I write, I tend to plan things out very generally, without too many specifics. Just a general idea of what I want to say. Then when I start into it, ideas pop into my head and I put them down. Afterward, when I get to the editing stages, I realize that a lot of those ideas were terrible, so I start cutting things out. Eventually, it all winds up together (if I’m lucky).

 

 

What steps do you take when you’re writing to try and guide your ideas and your writing into the brilliant realm?

I try to write a little every day. It’s not always the same piece. I write songs, compose music, and write blogs and short stories all the time, so I’m always involved in writing something. I think the best way to write good work is to just write a LOT of work. It’s okay to write bad stuff, as long as you recognize that it’s bad and don’t try to convince yourself it’s something better. By writing sheer volumes of material, you develop the habit of writing. Pretty simple, really.

 

 

Once you have something written, how do you go about editing your work so that it becomes close to your bar and the work of the writers that you admire? Is editing a task that you like to take on yourself?

I do edit a lot, and am reasonable meticulous about it. That said, I turn it over to a story editor who points me in the right direction. After I finish editing that part, I send it to a line editor who corrects all the typos, spelling, grammatical errors that I was certain I had already fixed. But, at some point you have to let go of it and consider it “finished”.

 

 

As you’ve successfully reached the finished stage, do you have any tips for other authors who might be looking at their old logbooks and thinking of documenting their stories?

Not really. Maybe sharpen your pencil periodically. I’m a newbie, so it’d be a bit presumptuous of me to try to offer tips to others. But there are lots of writers’ forums and social network places online where writers can get good advice.

 

 

 

Yep, great help is only a Google search away. When you’re not searching for the next piece of advice, what writing project or projects have been piquing your interest?

I’m starting a fictional story that takes place along the Texas-Mexico border in the 1960s. It has lost treasure, hippies, bandits, bounty hunters, and even some aliens. Lots of side stories going on, so I’m hoping I can actually tie them all together by the end of it all.

 

 

With a cast of characters like that it sounds like you will have the challenge to wrangle them all into a single story. Maybe you just need a little more creativity to get them together. Let’s see if we can entice a little more imagination into your life by playin with your quick-fire questions today. Let’s kick off the fun with what is your favourite word?

Flutney.

 

 

That’s a great word! What is your zodiac sign?

Aries

 

Are you left or right-handed?

I’m ambidextrous, believe it or not. I often get confused as to which hand/arm/foot I use for any given task. For instance, I write with my left hand, eat with my right hand, bat from both sides of the plate, play musical instruments right handed (though I could just as easily learn them left handed). I shoot pool right handed, but I shoot a rifle left handed. I’m confused…

 

 

*Laughs* It sounds like you have everything working well despite your confusion! If you could breed two animals together to defy the laws of nature what new animal would you create?

I don’t need to breed a new animal. I have cats, and they already defy the laws of nature.

 

 

Yep, I have to agree with that! Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavour, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?

For the same reason that they don’t call them lemon liquid or dishwashing juice.

 

 

*Laughs* I quite like the sound of dishwashing juice. It makes the dishwashing process sound a lot sweeter than it really is! What happens when you get scared half to death twice?

Well, half of a half is a quarter. So, I reckon you’d have a quarter of a death left over.

 

 

Is a quarter of death fatal though? It might be something worth considering while we ponder the wonders of TEFLON. If nothing ever sticks to TEFLON, how do they make TEFLON stick to the pan?

TEFLON is a myth. There is no TEFLON in the pan because there’s no such thing as TEFLON. They just want you to believe there is.

 

 

Just another marketing myth! Now for something that is much more than a myth, what is your favourite line, quote or statement from your book?

“Unrequited love to the sound of a steel guitar.”

 

 

Is there anything beyond the unrequired love of a steel guitar that we should look for after we’ve polished off ‘Man & Horse’?

Hmmm, let’s see…. I suppose that after you read my book, you could go over to my Bandcamp website (look me up there) and download some of my music for free. That’s right, it’s there for the taking, folks.

 

 

Your talents continue! John, thanks so much for sharing your cross country journey, and I wish you the best of luck with your 1960s fictional adventure.

 

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!