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Photo Montage Created by Author Daniel L. Carter

by Daniel L. Carter

Reprinted from “A Christian Man’s Perspective”

 Daniel L. Carter: I am always pleased to introduce my readers to visiting authors but today is truly an honor. My guest today is not only a talented author but has been an interviewer to the stars for years. Ranging from Clint Eastwood to Jane Russell this talented woman could be categorized as a Hollywood schmoozer! Without any more introduction, I’m blessed to call Betty Dravis my good friend. Welcome to my website, Betty. Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Betty Dravis: Hi, Daniel, and everyone. Thanks for inviting me to “A Christian Man’s Perspective.” To start at my humble beginnings, I was born in Hamilton, Ohio, second youngest of seven children born to John and Felda (Crawford) Barger. I came to sunny California after I graduated from high school and liked it so well I never went back home to live. But, Go Bucks! (laughs)

Most of you know me as the quirky lady you bump into all over the Internet. You know, the one who’s always pushing her own books and books of her author friends. (laughs) In recent years, I’m best known for my celebrity interviews, including actors, authors and artists of all types, but during my career I was a journalist, newspaper publisher and hosted a TV talk show.

But first and foremost, I’m a mother and grandmother; my family is my “real” life. All else is just icing on my cupcake… I had six children, five daughters and a son, but two daughters are now angels in heaven, having left us too soon…too young. Those were the saddest times in my life, but I’m consoled that they’re in Heaven now and our family circle will be complete as each of us find our way to them when our time on earth is over. And rather than mourn our loss, I treasure their memories and the children they left behind. I have nine grown grandchildren, five precious great-grands and one adorable great-great grand. They are what keep me so young at heart and filled with energy.

Daniel L. Carter: You are amazing! Your most recent book Star Struck: Interviews with Dirty Harry and Other Hollywood Icons. Tell us about your book, Betty.

Betty Dravis: Well, Daniel, you asked the right question here. There’s nothing I like better than talking books with another author. As you know, I write in many genres of fiction and also write non-fiction. I actually have six books on the market; three still in print format, two that were print but now “e-incarnations,” and two more e-books.

My latest is a short e-book, Star Struck: Interviews with Dirty Harry and Other Hollywood Icons. In this book I share behind-the-scenes happenings of some of my favorite celebrity interviews. You know, Daniel, the usual: What led up to the interviews and my feelings and impressions during and after the meetings… Among those I was fortunate enough to interview were: Actor/Director Clint Eastwood, Senator Ted Kennedy, 40’s Star Jane Russell, Singer/Actress Tanya Tucker, Mayor Joseph Alioto and Actress Ann Sothern. Those were “heady” days for a young journalist just starting my writing career. As delighted as I was to land such coveted interviews back in the day, in this day and age, I’m crowing over the fact that John Locke wrote the foreword for Star Struck. I consider that a feather in my cap because John’s the darling of the “e-book crowd,” having been the first self-published author to sell a million books on Kindle. Wow!

Daniel L. Carter: Out of all the stars you’ve interviewed, which of them did you most identify with?

Betty Dravis: Of the six high-profile people in Star Struck, I more closely identified with Clint Eastwood because he was sought after by every writer in the world and I was grateful that he chose me. I was a bit in awe of him, but identified with him because he was so kind, complimentary and considerate to me during and after the interview. I admired what he’d accomplished before I met him, so followed his career with great interest. From that day forward, I strove to be as good a writer as he is an actor, so eventually turned to him as my role model.

Daniel L. Carter: You’re not just a great interviewer but you’re also a talented author. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Betty Dravis: At age eleven, I started writing poetry and little short stories–more like life observations, from this viewpoint many years later–but even though my family encouraged me and my high-school, creative-writing teacher marked my papers as “best in class,” it was years before I took it seriously. You see, Daniel, in those days we were trained and encouraged to be wives and mothers, so I didn’t take writing too seriously until after my first child was born. I started out in journalism, writing columns for local dailies in various cities and eventually worked up to publisher. I always wanted to write a novel–try my hand at fiction–but journalism was a more steady income, so with six children to raise, I stuck with newspapers. I didn’t have time to write my first novel until I retired at age 62.

Daniel L. Carter: You are my role model! (smiles) If you could give advice to other authors or aspiring authors what would say?

Betty Dravis: I would tell them to take as many classes as they can, read all the books on writing in their selective genres, and to keep at it. Write! Write! Write! Even if it’s just little thoughts that come to them from time to time, write it down. Practice is what makes us better at our craft. And never let life’s setbacks (or negative people) stop them. Of all the ultra-successful people I’ve interviewed, they have all agreed: Keep focused on what you really want to do and you’ll win in the end. Persevere!

Daniel L. Carter: Great advice, Betty! What source or sources do you draw from when creating a new story? Personal life, your faith, the world around you, all the above…?

Betty Dravis: That’s an easy question to answer, Daniel, but harder to describe. It’s all of the above! I truly believe that everything we’ve ever seen, heard, read or experienced becomes part of us at some hidden level and that all of our accumulated information and experience filters up through our subconscious when needed. Whether we need information for a book we’re writing or other circumstances in life, our cumulative life experiences are there for us when most needed.

Daniel L. Carter: If I asked you to pick one of your characters as your favorite who would it be and why?

Betty Dravis: I have many favorites, Daniel. In fact I like all my characters, for one reason or another. But in giving it deeper thought, I will have to choose David Wetterman, the weatherman-turned-prophet in my first-published novel, Millennium Babe: The Prophecy. Why? Because he’s such a funny, likable little guy… He’s definitely not the image of your average hero; he’s just an ordinary, kooky guy who always bungles things, but somehow manages to end up “smelling like roses.” He’s what you call a “real character.” On the order of Jim Carrey, I suppose…

Daniel L. Carter: What was your greatest challenge, personally, when writing Star Struck?

Betty Dravis: My current book, Star Struck, is non-fiction, so it came with a unique set of problems. Since these six celebrity anecdotes were previously published in Dream Reachers, I had to get permission from my co-author Chase Von to put them in this book. He readily agreed, so that problem resolved amicably. My second problem was that, in addition to photos I owned, I also wanted to publish a few photos of the celebrities from their public life. That entailed either getting their permission or finding photos in the public domain. Since some celebrities’ managers charge as much as $200 per picture and take too long getting back, I opted for the public domain. That took a bit of digging, but it all worked out. And finally, I had to sell my publisher, Wendy Dingwall of Canterbury House, on trying the 99-cents price. Thank God, she agreed.

Daniel L. Carter: That’s great that your publisher was willing to work with you on the pricing. What factors do you use that tell your book is done?

Betty Dravis: Daniel, I consider a story finished after I’ve answered all the questions (tied up all the loose ends), making everything clear to my readers. And I always proof-read my books several times, trying to catch all the “nits.” I believe what Stephen King says, though: He said (in so many words) that if he had waited until a book was perfect in his eyes, he would never have published a thing.

Daniel L. Carter: That is so very true! Tell us, Betty, why did you choose to write in different genres?

Betty Dravis: When I first started, I thought I would write in the horror and thriller genre because that’s what I love to read. However, life just threw particular stories at me and I ended up writing an epic romance about my beautiful older sister (faction, my word to mean it’s based on a true story but is highly dramatized for commercial reasons). Then The Toonies Invade Silicon Valley came at me in such an unusual way, I just had to write that young adult. Once again I lucked out with another “famous person” boosting me along. Steve “The Woz” Wozniak agreed to play a speaking role in my Toonies. And so it went…until I ended up with one romance, one YA, one supernatural fantasy adventure and two non-fiction celebrity interview books. And yes, Daniel, I finally wrote my thriller and a horror. (laughs) I have those in the wings, waiting for perfect timing to publish. I think you’ll like them.

Daniel L. Carter: I am so looking forward to buying my autographed copy! (grins ear to ear) Do you have any favorite authors?

Betty Dravis: Indeed I do, Daniel. In fact, I have many, but my all-time favorite author (living or dead) is Pat Conroy. He amazes me with his beautiful words, perfect phraseology, dialogue, plotting and everything. I absolutely adore his poetic, flowery­­–some critics say too flowery—prose and his similes are to die for. To me, he’s a genius…

I have at least a hundred authors that are friends on the Internet and many, including you, who are my new favorites. You have a surprising number of great writers on Author Central, your popular page on Facebook. Of the ones I’ve read, at least fifteen blew my mind with their powerful, entertaining stories. Wow! I wouldn’t want to offend anyone by mentioning my favorites; actually, there are too many to list.

Daniel L. Carter: (Laughing) That’s alright, Betty. I know where I stand in your heart… wink wink. Are you working on a book now, and if so, tell us a little bit about it?

Betty Dravis: In addition to the horror and thriller mentioned above–Evil Voices at Circle Lake and Dead Women Don’t Talk Back (both finished except for a final proof)–I’m trying to find time to finish a second in the young adult Toonies series: The Toonies Rock New York. It’s similar to the first Toonies, with good cartoon characters escaping out of a humanoid boy’s computer into the world. The bad ones follow them out and wreak all kinds of havoc as they try to destroy everything in their paths. It’s another story of good versus bad, with good winning in the end. (laughs)

Daniel L. Carter: Now that sounds fantastic! You could have them come out of their IPhone…hehehe. If you were stranded on a deserted island and could pick only two books to have with you, what would they be and why?

Betty Dravis: The first one is a no-brainer. I would choose The Holy Bible because it’s always been my inspiration and I need it to refresh me on a daily basis. I’d also like to take a book that I wrote, 1106 Grand Boulevard, because my family members are in it and it has special meaning to me; many fond memories of my parents and siblings. Since there are only two surviving from our family, I would most likely get the most benefit and enjoyment from that book.

Daniel L. Carter: Hopefully readers have guessed that I am very fond of you as a friend and a writer, Betty. I pray they caught of glimpse of what a special person you are. Before we say goodbye, I want to thank you for sharing with us today. I’m sure you have intrigued many today. Where can people go to get more information about you and your books?

Betty Dravis: Thanks for the opportunity to reach more people, Daniel, and for giving me a chance to share my links. I wish you best of luck with your amazing G-6 Chronicles trilogy. I’ve read the first two and they’re very exciting and original; love the children in your books. Can’t wait to read the third one.

My website:

My Amazon Author Central page:

My DOD blog:

My Orangeberry Books page:

Daniel L Carter
Author of The G-6 Chronicles



Betty Dravis: Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Chase. As you know, we interview a lot of authors, but we also feature people from all walks of life. Since you wear a lot of hats––poet, author, celebrity interviewer and publisher––I think our readers will be very interested in you. I want to tell our readers right up front that you are the co-author on my latest book “Dream Reachers.” Can you tell us a little bit about the experience of working with me? You don’t have to tell them what a big whip I carry, Chase.headshotthough. And please don’t pump me up…LOL…

Chase Von: Working with you, Betty, has been one of the very best experiences of my entire life. I will admit though, it wasn’t easy dealing with a perfectionist and I found out really quickly you’re a sweetheart outside the writing world but inside it, when it comes to things being as they should, you’re a TIGER!

(Good thing I’m the Last Panther or you’d be picking your teeth with my bones. Heh, heh…)

Being a poet first (where there is so much artistic freedom), I wasn’t prepared for the truly technical structure of writing that you brought to the table. But I’ve learned so much from you and consider you not only a co-author and a friend, but also a mentor. Mentally, you’ve smacked me around quite a bit, but I really have to thank God for your being in my life and I say that in all seriousness because you are an angel.  You’re hard, but fair, Marine…er… I mean Betty! Heh, heh… But there’s no doubt in my mind, you could be a Drill Sergeant.

Betty Dravis: I told you not to pump me up, Chase, but I kinda like it! (I just wanted you to admit I do have a tougher, more serious side than most people see, especially when I’m editing.) But back to you: I know you are an esteemed poet with two published volumes. The titles of both are unique, but I’m most curious about “Your Chance to Hear the Last Panther Speak.” I understand that you are “The Last Panther.” How did that come about and what does it mean?

YourChancetoHear.bookcoverChase Von: I think it’s in recognition of my American Indian heritage. Ethnically, I’m black, Blackfoot Indian, Cherokee Indian, and according to family lore, French, as well.  The Last Panther is no different to me than saying Black Elk or Sitting Bull. It confuses some people; they read it wrong and think I’m a “Black Panther.” I’m okay with that, as well.  If you read my books or get to know me, you know I’m not a member of that organization, but I also understand why that group formed and I also know they’ve done a lot of good, like initiating the before-school breakfast programs, for one example. Speaking of that, did you know there is no such thing as a black panther? Tigers have tigers, lions have other lions, and so on, but there is no “black panther” species.  Sometimes some are born black, though. It always mystifies me how people get “Black Panther” when I clearly state “Last Panther.”  I guess their minds wander when they read…

Betty Dravis: I like that name for you, Chase; it suits you and your philosophy of life. And thanks for the information about the panther species.  I also think our readers will be interested in your poetry. I’ve read PANTHER and am impressed that your words seem to flow from your heart; you have penned some powerful thoughts. I’m even more fascinated by your celebrity interviewer status. Author Christy Tillery French termed me a “celebrity interviewer” but when I interviewed a few stars back in my day, I was actually a columnist and it was just part of my job at the various newspapers where I worked. How did you get started interviewing celebrities? I notice that all the people you interview aren’t celebrities in the normal sense of the word. What is your definition of celebrity?

Chase Von: I got introduced by Willard Barth to Judyth Piazza, and did an interview with her. She’s the creator and founder of the Student Operated Press. After the interview she asked me if I would like to write for her.  Because I write, I’ve met a lot of interesting people, so in addition to mentoring on SOP and sharing some of my own work, I decided to interview some of the very interesting people I know. They are not  “world famous,” but they’re extremely talented and if they stretch to reach their dreams, they could one day be icons. I interview interesting people whether they are famous or not. To me each person is to be celebrated, whether they are known only by their family and friends or by the whole world. I enjoy meeting new people, talking to them, learning from them and writing about them. And I do it for that reason.  I like learning because if you aren’t learning, you aren’t growing, and there is no better way to learn than to ask questions.

Betty Dravis: I admire that about you, Chase, and I agree; everyone’s life is a celebration of wonder. Now I’m curious about which genre you most enjoy writing: poems, short stories or nonfiction, such as “Dream Reachers?”

Chase Von: It’s still something that confuses me unless I really think about it: Fiction isn’t true, and nonfiction is…yes?  For some reason, that just seems backwards to me.  So let’s just say “real” or “made-up” to make this easier for me. (Maybe I’m a tad dyslexic.)  With my own writing, I prefer making things up, mostly because that’s what I do. I’m a “thought catcher” who turns thoughts into poetry. Whether I write about love or dreams, I hope readers can relate to it in a “real” sense––pulled out of thin air or not. It’s always interesting to interview people and write the facts of their lives, but poetry is my first love.

Betty Dravis: I can understand that, but getting back to celebrity interviewing, since you do your interviews by phone and email, have you met any celebrities in person? If so, tell us a little about the first one and the most recent one you’ve met.

Chase Von: The first celebrity I met was the famous boxer Joe Frazier; I met him at a 7-Eleven when I was going to a high school football game. And famous Olympian Carl Lewis’s Dad was my winter track coach in Willingboro, New Jersey. The last celebrity I spent time with on the phone was Hollywood actress Jenny McShane, who is a beautiful person both inside and out. The last one I have actually spent time with is musician M.T. Robison and his band “The Messengers.” I was a personal guest at their recent gig in Hollywood.

I’ve pulled security for Sinbad, Cedric The Entertainer, Shelia E’s family and The Weeper and I’ve also met Kidd Rock, Alyssa Milano, Lee Anne Womack, Brittany Murphy and many others.  I do want to say here, though, that Brittany Murphy and Jenny McShane are like twins, personality wise.

Betty Dravis: What are your ideal writing conditions? Do you listen to music while writing? And how do you go about promoting your books when published?

Chase Von: I really don’t have any ideal conditions, as I’m a “thought catcher,” as mentioned before.  I might be on a bus, in my backyard, on a ship or driving in a car and something will hit me and I have to write it down.  I don’t have to catch all of it, but the gist of it. I might write it on a matchbook or a napkin, or if I’m lucky enough to be at home, the computer.  Thoughts don’t always introduce themselves at convenient times; they come when they want to come.

Betty Dravis: I suppose most writers are a little bit like that, too, Chase.  You know, I love the complete act of writing and hate the marketing.  What do you love about it? What do you hate? I bet your answer will be a lot like mine, but this curious mind wants to know…as I’m sure our readers do.

Chase Von: I think in today’s world, writers have to help sell their own books…to make a dent, but I much prefer writing to marketing.  Marketing is work; writing is a part of who I am. It’s also difficult for me to “sell myself” because I don’t think on the level of: I’m all THAT and a ‘bag of chips.’ I’d call it humility, but if someone likes what I write, I’m deeply touched. I’m the type of person who likes to let what I do speak for itself. Perhaps this is outdated, but what I’m generally saying is, if you’re good, the world will beat a path to your door. So I’m waiting.

Betty Dravis: What advice would you give other writers?

Chase Von: Read!  Writers to me are like verbal painters, and if you have a limited vocabulary, it’s like trying to paint a picture with two or three colors when you could be using the entire spectrum of colors.  Another thing is: learn things you don’t know and admit that you don’t know it all.  I’d like to share a poem here, if I may?

There are so many people

Who will never know

More than what they know

Because what they know

Actually prevents them

From learning

What they could know

Betty Dravis: That’s lovely, Chase…thought-provoking… Do you have a current mentor? If so, tell us about him or her and about others who have influenced your life.

Chase Von: Not to sound corny, but I think just about everyone that teaches me things I don’t know is a mentor: Judyth Piazza, yourself, Willard Barth, Bryant McGill, Ed Roberts…and I could go on and on here. But I also want to say something that might sound a bit crazy to a lot of people—God! Someone gave me something years ago, a little card that said…and this is from memory: “God Still Speaks, To Those Who Listen.” I believe that.

Betty Dravis:  That doesn’t sound crazy at all to me, Chase, because I credit God as my main mentor too.  Now, tell us a little about your family who must be thrilled that you’re a published author.

Chase Von: I have a lovely wife and three kids…a dog and two fish… And no matter how others might admire things I do and have done, to my kids I’m Dad. I’m the one my youngest shows his cars to, my daughter tells about her “Beanie Babies,” and whose oldest son has to be called a couple of times because he can’t hear because he’s on the phone with a girl….

Speaking of family, I would like to wish my Mom a happy birthday in a public format; she celebrated in July. She turned 29 again. Heh, heh…

Betty Dravis: Well, that’s a woman’s prerogative, they say, Chase, but I know a few men like that too. But now for the fun question: I waited till the end to put you on the spot, but do you mind sharing the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you in connection with your writing?

Chase Von: Perhaps not in the vein you’re expecting, but a teacher once told me and the entire class that “few people change.” It triggered me to write one of my first poems: “So long.”  When I showed it to that teacher, she couldn’t believe that I wrote it and thought I had copied some adult’s writing. To prove (to herself, I imagine) that I didn’t write it she had the entire class do something else and told me to write a poem.

I even remember what I wrote that day…  From memory:

I’ve been on this earth

Since my birth

Like most others

I’m pretty well sure

A brain I am not

But I know quite a lot

Enough to get by

I’m sure

I could go on and on

About the things I know

How the sun stays lit

And why rivers flow

But there’s one subject

I will never know

And that subject

Is life

Well, in her thinking, it wasn’t on the same level as “So long”––so I was embarrassed, even when I shouldn’t have been. It was years before I showed anything else I wrote to an actual “Adult.”

I was in Ansbach, Germany when my former high school counselor asked me if they could put one of my poems in a high school yearbook.  (It was my rival high school, and she and my former teacher had ended up there, both on the yearbook staff.) “Probably Will” was included in that yearbook and when the teacher recognized my name, she said, “I remember him!  He’s the one that wrote this?”  She then went on to tell my once-high-school counselor about the childhood incident and the counselor said, “So you’re the one?” The teacher then relayed an apology. A little late… Nonetheless, I forgave her long ago and don’t want to end this on a sour note, but to be accused at such a young age, sat off by myself and forced to write (which any writer knows isn’t how any of us do it)…. Well, that brings a two-time war veteran like myself to unfavorable memories because it is still painful to be treated like that by someone in an established position, one who you thought you would be pleasing.

Yes, that was embarrassing, but I got over it. But any teacher who jumps to conclusions about how advanced a young child’s writings skills should be––or whatever talent they exhibit––isn’t a teacher to me. She (or he) is a “Dream Vampire!”

I survived and went on to win accolades for my poetry. I wonder how many people out there might have laid down their pens for good because of experiences like that.  And this isn’t a book plug––though some might think it is––but I’ve learned not to be too concerned with that as of late. I really think people who have had similar experiences need to read the book we put together, Angel Betty: “Dream Reachers.”  If they are still letting something like that hold them back, maybe our book will inspire them to forgive and move forward to go after their dreams.

I’ll be damned if I’m going to let anyone slow me down or stop me from reaching for my dreams. No one has the right to take that from me, regardless of what their credentials might be.

Betty Dravis: It’s sad, Chase, that some teachers intimidate students that way, and I agree: it can harm them for life. I’m glad you came out okay and continued writing inspiring poetry­­––like my favorite one that’s on the final page of “Dream Reachers.” Do you mind sharing it with Dames of Dialogue and our guests? We all appreciate your visiting with us today and I think it would be a perfect way to end this interview

Chase Von:  Sure, I’m happy to share the poem, and thanks for inviting me to be your guest.  It’s been my pleasure. Peace and love to y’all.

If the universe

Is big enough

To hold countless stars

And uncountable galaxies

Is it really a stretch

Of the imagination

To believe within it

It can also hold

Your dreams?

Author Betty Dravis and celebrity interviewer and poet Chase Von have together penned an inspiring collection of interviews with people who not only dare to dream but strive to make their dreams happen, ranging from mega movie star/director/ producer Clint Eastwood to politico Ted Kennedy along with a plethora of actors, dreamreachersactresses, poets, artists, singers, dancers, musicians, photographers and more. One of this reviewer’s favorites: the interview with Debra D. Griffin, author and photographer, who lost her battle with cancer. Debra’s inspiring words: “Smile and keep a lot of smiling faces around you. Keep busy; take this time to do all your favorite things. Sing and make a joyful noise.” Very poignant words from a gifted woman.

One common denominator that stands out with this collection of interviews: the belief that life is a gift. These talented people understand and appreciate they are each unique unto themselves and blessed with life, which inspires them to reach for their dreams, some of whom have made it, others who are well on their way.

Dream Reachers is an intriguing read which will motivate those readers who until now might not have taken that first step toward their dream to reach out and grab for it as well as those working toward their dream to keep going. All readers will enjoy the stories behind the interviews and the powerful message each interview delivers.

The authors generously donate a portion of the profits from the sale of this book to the Breast Cancer Care Research Center.

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