Author believes in writing from personal experience

From the Idaho State Journal - October, 11 2003

Kirby Jonas has been sprayed by a skunk, eaten a moose's nose and intentionally started a cow stampede to help himself describe situations in his western novels.

Jonas, a Pocatello firefighter and author of seven Westerns, believes authors have no business writing about things they've never experienced, no matter how unpleasant they might be.

His books, printed by his own publishing company, Howling Wolf Publishing, have sold 30,000 copies internationally and have earned him an income roughly equal to what he makes as a firefighter.

He and 1960's Western actor Clint Walker will soon release a book together called "Yaqui Gold," in which the main character gets his feet skinned by Indians and has to crawl 150 miles through the desert.

To understand his character's pain, Jonas, 38, crawled over gravel at Scout Mountain.

In a book he wrote set in Pocatello and Soda Springs, "Death of an Eagle," he planned to have a character eat skunk and moose to prepare himself to live in the wild.

A friend on the fire department trapped him a skunk which sprayed his firefighter's uniform. He never got to taste skunk, so he left it out of the book.

"It was about six months before I could wear that uniform again," Jonas said.

Another time, Jonas was out hiking and saw a herd of cows gathered near a fence. Since he planned to write about a cattle stampede, he snarled lke a wolf to make them run.

"The whole place exploded like you wouldn't believe. There was dust everywhere, and there was this rancher on the other side of the fence looking at me like I was crazy," Jonas said. "When I describe stampede's now, it's authentic."

Before he joined the fire department about a decade ago, he worked three years as a Pocatello police officer. He said the experience helps him describe Western gun fights.

"I've never had to shoot anybody, but there were several where I almost had to pull the trigger, so the feeling's there," Jonas said.

Jonas, who grew up watching "Gun Smoke" and reading Louis L'Amour, spent one week on the No. 1 best seller's list with his book "Death of an Eagle."

His most recent release, "The Devil's Blood," was a rewrite of his first book, The Season of the Vigilante.

20 Questions with Kirby Jonas

 

ISJ: If you could have dinner with one famous person, who would it be?

Jonas: Dead? John Wayne. Alive -- ah, nobody.

 

ISJ: Who inspires you the most?

Jonas: Clint Walker, cowboy actor.

ISJ: Who is your ideal next-door-neighbor?

Jonas: Jose Olano, the main character of my fourth book (Death of an Eagle); he can shoot the toes off a gnat, so I'd feel pretty safe...unless he got mad at me.

ISJ: What's the heaviest peice of furniture in your house?

Jonas: My log bed.

ISJ: If you won the lottery, how would you spend the money?

Jonas: Paying off my bills and traveling the world.

ISJ: What was the last good book you read?

Jonas: John Grisham's "The Firm."

ISJ: What was your favorite vacation?

Jonas: Yellowstone Park, my honeymoon week.

ISJ: What's under your bed?

Jonas: I'm afraid to look. I got bit last time.

ISJ: What was the best piece of advise you ever received?

Jonas: Don't quit your day job.

ISJ: What's your favorite movie?

Jonas: "Heaven Can Wait," Warren Beatty.

ISJ: What's your guilty pleasure?

Jonas: Dark Chocolate -- way dark.

ISJ: What was the first album you ever owned?

Jonas: "Cool Water," Sons of the Pioneers.

ISJ: Favorite entertainer?

Jonas: John Denver.

ISJ: What is your ideal "last meal?"

Jonas: Fried potatoes and salsa, corn on the cob, deer steak.

ISJ: What's your greatest fear?

Jonas: Drowning -- tried it once, wasn't fun.

ISJ: What's your biggest pet peeve?

Jonas: Overpaid athletes and actors.

ISJ: How would you like to die?

Jonas: Freezing to death in the Arctic tundra.

ISJ: What would you like to be reincarnated as?

Jonas: A golden eagle.

ISJ: What's your motto?

Jonas: If you love someone, tell them, everyday.

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