Friday, December 11, 2020

Girl in the Cotton Castle: A Christmas Interview with Returning Author Jerry Green


Hello, friends. The Christmas season is upon us, and although Christmas looks different to us outwardly than it has looked before (thanks to Covid restrictions), the reason for the season is as unchanging as ever: everlasting joy in the celebration of Jesus' birth here on Earth. I am absolutely thrilled to be featuring an author whom we got to know a couple of years ago here on Writing Belle: Jerry Green. You will most likely recall the feature we did, which included his experiences while working as the Entertainment Director at Universal Studios (check out the 2018 story here). 

Now, Jerry has released a new book called Girl in the Cotton Castle, which is the perfect read for the holiday season. If you're like me, there's nothing like getting toasty under a warm blanket with a cup of coffee (or your beverage of choice), and reading a nice story for Christmas. To grab Jerry's book, check it out in the Amazon Store

I have a real respect for this author, as he brings a fresh, realistic view about engaging in creative endeavors, particularly from the viewpoint of a Christian - which is something that not a lot of people talk about! From working at Universal Studios, to meeting President Ronald Reagan, and finally all the way to authoring novels, he is definitely an author to watch. Jerry graciously took the time to participate in an interview with us here at Writing Belle, and it was so much fun to learn about his new book and books to come. I hope you enjoy, and be sure to check out the links at the bottom so you can follow Jerry on social media and beyond! 

Interview with Jerry Green

Welcome to Writing Belle! Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you came to be a writer!

      I came from a small town in North Florida, we were extremely poor, but I often scraped up enough money to go to the movie each Saturday. I always dreamed of being an actor, but never thought it might happen.  However, when I was a teenager my mom and her new husband moved West, and since I was underage, I came with them.

      I started my career at Universal Studios as a tour guide, hoping to use that as a springboard to an acting career.  However, I quickly discovered the roles I was auditioning for were parts I couldn’t do as a Christian … vulgar language, nudity, etc.

      In the midst of my career at Universal, a friend and I decided to write a script for a TV series called Emergency!  Although it wasn’t picked up and used in the show, it sparked my interest enough to try my hand at writing another script on my own.  The first one was titled My Little Brother Petie, and the second one, A Minor Inconvenience, which came oh so close to being turned into a movie.  How that came to be is a story in itself.     

      After finishing a script called Stealing Dawn, it sat on the shelf for years and years until about five or six years ago I became curious … could I turn that script into a novel?  I wanted to write stories my kids could read or watch on TV that weren’t filled with gross language or sex, stories I call ‘reader-friendly.’  


You have quite a diverse background, from working at Universal to being a playwright. Do you have a favorite job or area of expertise?

      I still feel like a novice when it comes to writing but, if I have an area of expertise, I suppose it might be hosting or MC’ing live stage shows.  Like I said, over 32,000 at Universal, and another 3,000 or so in other venues.  In addition to hosting shows, I also wrote, produced, and directed many of the stage shows at the studio, plus I trained scores of people as ‘show hosts’ for Universal, both in Hollywood and Florida.


Tell us about your newest book, 'Girl in the Cotton Castle.'

      Cotton Castle is the story of our heroine, Jenny, a young lady raised in the small town of Cove Creek.  She and her mom were abandoned by the husband/father when Jenny was just an infant.  Then when Jenny was twenty years old, her mom died.  Since that time Jenny’s life has evolved into a normal, yet predictable, existence.  That is until three weeks before Christmas when a newspaper reporter, Mark, comes to town on a mission.  He’s been sent by his editor to write a story about the family who once owned the house Jenny now lives in.  Mark dubs her house ‘The Cotton Castle’ because Jenny thought of it as a castle while growing up poor.  The house belonged to people of wealth, and her only view into their world was an occasional glimpse through the window.  She never dreamed she would one day live in it.  And that’s another thing, the circumstances surrounding her buying the house, a house she could not afford, were mysterious to say the least.  After all, she now owns a crafts store that provides a modest income, but certainly not enough to pay the overhead, plus the mortgage on her house.  But each month a check appears in her mail box to cover the difference.

      As the story unfolds we are introduced to Adam, a man who works at the local junkyard doing odds jobs.  He’s mystifying for sure, having arrived in town only two or three years ago.  So how does he fit in with Jenny, Mark, and … the character I get the most comments about, 83 year old Noah, a man who’s been like Jenny’s guardian angel since her dad abandoned her.

      As our reporter, Mark, digs deeper into the history of the Cotton Castle, his story morphs from a one-and-done feature article for Nashville Gazette, into a series of seven articles that transform not only Jenny’s life, but brings to light secrets hidden for years, secrets that have impacted many in the small town of Cove Creek, population - 15,000.  Jenny’s life is about to change this Christmas!


What inspired you to write this novel?

      I wanted to write a Christmas story, the kind my wife watches faithfully each year on Hallmark and Lifetime channels.  But I didn’t want to be wholly committed to the tried-and-true plotlines Hallmark and Lifetime movies have.  At the same time I didn’t want to stray too far afield so as to offend their fan base.  There’s a fine line which I hope I didn’t blur too much.  I also wanted my story to appeal to guys as well as the ladies, you know, with a little macho stuff thrown in.  Adam, one of two male heroes in the story, has a Navy Seal background, and brings that to bear in Cove Creek.


What is your writing process like?

      I know some writers like to first outline their story, while others create a detailed synopsis (an oxymoron I know) before delving into their work, so my approach probably isn’t typical.  I like to have a general idea of how I want to begin my story, and how I want it to end.  Then I start writing and see where my characters take me.  It’s always a fun ride.  One scene will lead to another and, as long as I keep the end goal in mind, the experience of discovering and fleshing out my characters is always exciting.  That being said, sometimes I have to adjust the beginning and/or ending to accommodate the story as my characters come to life.  But that too is exciting.

      I usually write 5-7 hours a day, taking breaks often to refresh my mind.  However, that isn’t a schedule I adhere to religiously.  I try to keep a rigidly flexible routine.


What other books have you written?

      Stealing Dawn was my first book.  Someone reviewed my books and commented that it was like reading a movie – (a compliment or not?  Hmmm?).  Perhaps the reason my books read like movies is from my ‘scripting’ background.

      When I was half way into writing the sequel, a couple of my kids encouraged me to write my autobiography and chronicle my life at Universal.  I had never given it much thought, but decided to have a go at it.  So the Uni story jumped ahead of the sequel and became my second book, 25 Years Inside Universal Studios.  (In January 2021, the publisher is releasing the updated version of that book retitled, Universal Studios – The Golden Years.  The updated version is filled with new stories that were unintentionally left out of the first edition.)

      Since my first beginnings as a writer I’ve completed seven books, I know, still a long way behind your 25 or so novels.

      To date I’ve written a three part book series: Stealing Dawn, Stealing Eagle Flats, and Stealing Stone.  That has been a great adventure.  I’m planning a fourth book in the series that will immerse the two lead characters into an event the Bible refers to as The Rapture.  I’m really anxious to see how the story unfolds as Stone and his love interest unravel the trauma they will face.  I have a beginning in mind, and I’m pretty sure someone else has already written the ending.  I just have to work my two characters in at the finish line.

      Not long after I finished my autobiography a friend asked me to write his father-in-law’s biography.  It was a project two years in the making.  Of course I also interspersed a couple of other writing projects in while tackling my friend’s request to write the story of Mehrdad Pahlbod.  It’s a name unfamiliar to most people unless they were from the Middle East.  Mehrdad was married to the older sister of the Last Shah of Iran, and served as Minister of Culture and Fine Arts for over twenty years.  When the revolt took place in 1979, He and his family escaped, finding a new home in the United States. 

      Devotion: The Memoirs of Mehrdad Pahlbod, is a story of his fascinating life while serving under the Shah, where he helped shape face of his country, a land considered the Jewel of the Middle East.

      Of course Girl in the Cotton Castle, was released in November, 2020, and the next in the series (although it isn’t a sequel in the truest sense), The Treasure of Donovan’s Bay, is about 80% complete and will come next year.

      The Christian’s Journey – Even While in Show Biz will come also in 2021.


Can you tell us a bit about working at Universal Studios for those who may not already be familiar with your work?

      Working in the entertainment industry was something I dreamed of doing, but never envisioned it would actually happen.  But then came the opportunity at Universal Studios where, as I say in my story, for 25 years they paid me to play for a living.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  I started my career as a tour guide, then became a show announcer (the person who introduced other shows), then was given the chance to host/MC a show.  Hosting shows, or as we called it, ‘directing,’ was where I spent most of my Universal life.

      While at Universal I was even allowed to split my time one summer and perform with Joan Embrey on stage at the San Diego Zoo.

      In 1985, Universal promoted me to Director of Entertainment.  Then I spent the last few years in Planning and Development (now called Universal Creative) setting up shows at the studio in Orlando, Florida.

      A special assignment Universal afforded me was coordinating with President Reagan’s staff in the opening of his museum and library in Simi Valley, California, and then meeting with him personally.  That’s forever etched in my memory as a profound happening in my life.


Can you talk briefly about 'A Christian's Journey'? I saw the advertisement on your website and it intrigued me!

      A Christian’s Journey – Even While in Show Biz tells of the challenges, struggles, and temptations while living the Christian life in the world of show business.  Moreover, it speaks of how to walk the Christian life, not only in show biz but life, regardless of what profession a person finds themselves.  It addresses what’s really important in a world that has lost its way?  How do we deal with the challenges?  It’s intended to help lead someone who’s searching for meaning to the only true and honest answer, and it’s done with a bent toward show biz.


For those who are pursuing any type of creative endeavor, what advice would you have for them?

That’s an easy question to answer – never give up!  However, I will say, as was true of my life, be open to what might come your way.  What I started pursuing morphed into something I never expected.  I started out with the dream of being the next Paul Newman, James Garner, or in today’s market, Tom Cruise or Hugh Jackman.

But my show biz goals were altered (by God) into a different path, still in show biz, but fit me to a ‘T.’  As I said earlier, be committed to remaining ‘rigidly flexible.’  There was only one thing that we should not compromise on - our values, our integrity.  Let’s face it, we can have just about everything taken from us now days, but integrity is something we ‘choose’ to give up.

 If you want to write, then sit down at the keyboard and write.  You’ll find there are very few rules that have to be followed.  If you want to act, or be in the music business, go for it.  Just remember, hold fast to your integrity.  What you compromise on today will make it easier to negotiate away tomorrow.


Where can readers find you online?

      My web address is:

      Plus - Facebook, Instagram, MeWe, Twitter, Parler, Linkedin


Thank you so much for your time, and have a very Merry Christmas! Visit again soon! 

 Thanks again Summer.  Have a wonderful Christmas filled with all the blessings that come to those who follow the Lord.

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Get fictional - it's fun! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you again soon!