Name: Roland Jenkins
Where are you from?
I live in a small town in southwest Washington State. I was born in Indianapolis, Indiana at age 3 we moved to a small town in southwest Michigan then at age 10 we moved to the west side of Chicago. When I was 13 my parents moved us out to the suburban town of Lisle where they remained and were finally buried in the local cemetery at the turn of the century. I called Lisle my home base going to high school, returning there after the Army, attending junior college and returning several times after moving to Minnesota and Colorado until finally relocating to the mountains west of Denver, Colorado where I met and married my wife. In the mid ’80s due to the downturn in the economy we moved to Las Vegas and lived there for more than 20 years until in 2010 we retired and moved to Washington State.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Aside from organizing the chapters for my next book and writing the few chapters necessary to complete the work I spend most of my energy in yard work or volunteering time, money and energy to our local no-kill animal shelter. Our children and grandchildren still live in Las Vegas so we make frequent trips there to share as much of life as we can with them.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
As a child when visiting my grandmother in Northern Minnesota my brothers and I would go to bed eagerly because as soon as we were in bed and quiet she would come into the bedroom, sit down in her corner chair and with no light in the room except what filtered in the windows from the moon or starlit night she would start to tell us a story. While each story was different they were all about the adventures of 3 young boys with their canine friend always out in the forest. Her voice was so melodic and soothing that unfortunately we would often fall asleep. Try as we might the next morning over breakfast to get her to retell or finish the story she would make us wait until that evening and pick up where the first one had succumb to slumber.
In that bedroom she had a framed picture of “The Lone Wolf”. I would stand in front of that work and take in every detail immersing myself in the moment. I would wonder what was going through the mind of the Wolf and wonder what was going on behind the warm light spilling out onto the frozen snow below. Much later on in my life I found out that was a very famous and much copied piece of work. A couple years back I found one at an antique shop and bought it. It now hangs in the hall between our kitchen and living room so that each and every day I get a chance to stop in front of it and regain for the moment that time so long ago.
I always admired my grandmother’s story telling ability and tried several times to emulate her for my children, but I just could not.
Then in 1979 I had an experience that I just had to share and sat down to write my first story, “Running with the Herd”.
That story became the cornerstone of my writing method and focus. I was intrigued with the notion of living life “in the moment” as I had sensed the Elk and wolves do every waking moment of every day. What if we humans were as focused and intent with every move as the animals of the wild are? Just think how much more living we could squeeze out of the hours that we have to enjoy on this plane. From that day forward I have tried to remind myself that time is limited. I should not let an adventure slip past if I have the energy and inclination to step forward.
When I sat down to write “Running with the Herd” I had no idea what style I was going to use. My first couple attempts were too descriptive and rambling then I thought of how my Grandmother seemed to just let the words roll off her tongue. I began again and in one sitting the story just rolled out of my memory and onto the page. With the exception of some word and sentence editing I had created my first short story and my style.
Just as the “Lone Wolf” stood on the hill top contemplating his next moment I feel the energy of my Grandmother in each story I write and in that moment I draw on the “Wolf Within”.”
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
As a kid, “The Hardy Boys” series was my first real interest
As a teenager the classics such as “Old Man and the Sea”, Treasure Island”, “Kidnapped”, “Robinson Caruso”, Lord of the Flies and “The Yearling.
As a young adult, “Animal Farm, “1984”, “Helter Skelter”, “The Hobbit” and “Don Juan”.
As a young construction manager, “The Art of the Deal”, The One Minute Manager” and “Winning” by Jack Welsh
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
“A More Perfect Union” by Ben Carson
“Infinite Monkeys” an Anthology
“the Letter” an Anthology
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
The anthology “Wolf Warriors” was the book that featured my first story. I read the whole anthology and found the young author who’s story preceded mine to be very similar in style and quite interesting although fiction. I would love to read more of her work. Selah Gaynor is a fiction writer living in Littleton, Colorado.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I have the majority of chapters written for two more works. In 1970 I became a student of the martial arts and have put together enough short stories to document that adventure mixing the technical aspects of the art with real life stories. For the third book I did a bicycle trip in the early 70’s from Chicago to Denver as a college project. That was quite the adventure.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I don’t completely understand the focus of this question. If it is mentors you are searching for my high school football coach and my first employer are tops on that list. Both have chapters in the book devoted to them.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I am retired and plan to stay that way. If my books become popular then so be it. I got time to deal with that. I write as much for myself as I do to share with family and friends. What has been interesting is the fact that people that do not know me are able to relate to my stories and my style.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
It is like my years as a father. I so enjoyed growing with my children but know I made some mistakes. I would not want to do it over but I sure would like to do it again.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings while not a new author I would like to read more of her work as I feel her style is quite similar to mine and I feel I could learn much from studying her.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I provided the photo of my dog Buck II. Jonathan handled the design. He had a picture of another dog he wanted to use but I convinced him that this photo would be the third leg of the trilogy that is “Living in the Moment – Lone Wolf” and that the first two chapters would clarify that.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The actual writing of the stories is the easiest. For me the hardest part was collecting, organizing, coping, emailing the stories and communicating the edits. Jonny and I were introduced when the year prior his company organized an anthology to support the preservation and education of the wolves in Canada and North America. I submitted a story “Buck Proof” and two photos, one of which became my cover. My work got accepted and he wanted to know if I had any more stories as he really enjoyed my style. The rest is history, but the process was not without bumps as it was my first attempt.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Organization is the key. You can have a wealth of material but unless you have structure you got nothing.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write from the heart. Have structure and purpose in your thoughts and don’t clutter the page with unnecessary words.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just like a painting that draws you in let the words paint a picture that will take you away.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Hardy Boys Mystery
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
The older I get the harder it is for me to laugh and the easier I cry.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
This is not a fair question. I would love the opportunity to sit down to one more family dinner with my Mom and Dad, my Grandmother and the Uncle I was named after, My coach and my English teacher, My first boss Wanda, my football teammates Dave and Bob who gave their lives to the war in Nam, my martial arts buddy Chuck Shields and most of all my son Mathew just to name a few of those who no longer share this journey.
As for people that have gained notoriety for reasons of intellect or accomplishment there is only one name that comes to mind, Jesus.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
“A person’s life is judged by how it has affected the lives of other”
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Volunteer work with our No Kill Animal Shelter Organization, HAVA
My “Creative Partners” project which I send a letter to my young friends that is a structured piece of paper folded in half to create the sending envelope on the outside and the return envelope on the inside with a stamp so they just have to reverse it to send back to me. On the full back side of the sheet I draw a picture specific to their age and likes. The older and more talented they are the less I do for them. Then they finish the art and return it to me. I have notebooks full of returned work. I also create all my own greeting cards.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
“Big Bang Theory” “NCIS” “Blue Bloods” “Stand By Me” “Uncle Buck” “Adventures in Baby Sitting” “Mr. Holland’s Opus” “Remember the Titan’s” “Rudy” “Goonies”
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Fleetwood Mac, Moody Blues, Stones, Linda Ronstadt, Allison Krause
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
My greatest work and accomplishment was becoming and being a father. It is my hope that I live long enough to be a real Grandfather.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
No but am starting to think I need one.
This is from chapter “Three in a Buggie”.
Me and Buck