When I'm not reading it again, A Wayward Wind has a place of honor on the top shelf of my library. The emotion within the novel is real, compelling, and easily pulls you in.
Set back in the 1960's, and touching a bit on the Vietnam War era, John gives you a generous glimpse of the America we were through the eyes of three unforgettable characters.
Today, John joins us to give an insight into one of the most beautiful novels I've ever read, A Wayward Wind
Your narrative smoothly moves the reader through an intricate timeline. How are you able to accomplish such a precise sense of time on the page?
JWH: I originally wrote the whole novel from beginning to end, then split it into the past / present time-frame's to ensure the flow was smooth and that the transitions worked.
Two part question: We meet Jay Harte as an adult, recently home from Vietnam. He then takes us to his days as a kid. The realism of your characters begs the question, is there a real Jay Harte?
Few authors share your gift for characterization, would you tell us a little about Ollie and Hattie?
JWH: Jay Harte was based on myself as a young man. My name is John Wayne Huffman... so as you can imagine, I hated it. My friends called me J.W., which eventually was shortened to "Jay". Oliver Freedman is based on a childhood friend of mine named Truman Oliver, and Hattie Trudeau is based on a young lady I prefer not to name.
You must have your reasons for keeping Hattie to yourself.
JWH: Hattie was the love of my life... I often wonder what happened to her. I pray life has been good to her.
You most definitely wrote a great tribute to the way she touched your life. She's tough to forget. Her role in the novel provides just one of the different layers to A Wayward Wind; different messages that readers will understand depending on their life experience, but what's behind the pages of A Wayward Wind?
JWH: A true experience. Ollie did live with his aunt, a religious nut, and we did hitchhike to New Orleans to find his mother, who he had not seen since he was six years old when she dropped him off with her sister. We did become runaways, and I spent three months in the boys reformatory when we were caught some six weeks later. All the way up to where Hattie is hiding in the garbage can in the alley when Ollie and I are being carted off by the police after Ollie's mother turned us in, is pretty much true... afterwards, it's all fiction. I never saw Hattie again.
I'm certain I'll be reading it again with a new appreciation. So, is it safe to assume the confrontation with Ollie's aunt actually happened? That's one of my favorite scenes in the story.
JWH: I was messed up in the head when I returned from 'Nam, and the old witch had cancer and wanted me to find her sister (Oliver's mother) whom she had disinherited years before. I did find her and brought her back, where she inherited all that was lost to her when the old witch died.
Every story needs a catalyst, sometimes in the form of a religious nut.
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As I've found recently, personal accounts are the most difficult to write. It takes courage to write the story. Often, as an author, you're forced to relive events that affected you profoundly enough to commit them to the page.
I've looked forward to this blog for some time, and it turned out to be more than I imagined. John's candor and honesty reflect his passion for the times, people, and events behind the pages of one of my favorite novels, A Wayward Wind.
Javier A. Robayo
You can find John's works at