Almost everyone I know can verify that – much to my chagrin – I do not have a single degree of musical ability.
Well, one small degree: I can find middle C on the piano. And then . . . apart from having poor hand-eye coordination, an ear as flat as an empty pillow, and a sense of rhythm that keeps me lagging several beats behind everyone else – apart from all that, I would be great jazz bassist.
But that sad fact does not keep me from recalling something Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. wrote: “Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.”
In a versatile career of professional writing, college and university teaching, spirituality, U.S. Navy service, and other callings, I have tried to play (or sing) many different types of “music” resonating within me.
This multifaceted career of striving to get my music out of me has ranged from journalism (daily newspaper and freelance), historical fiction, oral history, higher education teaching, scholarship, essays, and more.
History continues to be one of the most recurring themes in my work. Someone once called doing journalism as writing history on the run. I also wrote a film history dissertation for a Ph.D in History, Images of Journalism in Film 1946-1976, (a Dissertation of Distinction at the University of Albany), Dissertation Abstracts International (#3134656).
And of course, historical fiction: one published novel (1996; 2016), and a completed murder mystery set in the Lower Hudson Valley and Brooklyn during the Great Depression (2017).
A native of Texas, I have lived also in Turkey, Missouri, New Jersey, and New York, where I reside now in the Upper Hudson Valley. In the 1960s, I worked as a reporter on dailies in Texas, and beginning in the mid-1970s taught journalism and media at the University of Missouri, Rowan University, and, from 1984-2011, the University at Albany where I directed a journalism program several times and helped to create a documentary studies program.
The doctoral work encouraged me to indulge in a love since childhood: historical fiction.
The first result of that was Moses Rose: A Novel of the Alamo and Survivors, published by Dan River Press in 1996, and reissued as an eBook by First Edition Design Publishing in 2016 (available on Kindle, Nook, etc.). In one review,The Dallas Morning News called this an “imaginative tale in which Rose must deal with many different meanings of heroism, survival, loneliness, and love.”
Recently, I finished The Killing of Hannah Doyle, a mystery set in the Great Depression Summer of 1934 and occurring primarily in the Lower Hudson Valley and Brooklyn. The Depression was one of my areas of study for my doctorate, and Hannah Doyle draws from extensive research in order to weave a richly detailed narrative of the Depression into an intriguing plot about why a young woman is murdered, and why hers is the first of several. I am now submitting this manuscript.
This Fall, I will begin a second novel involving some of the Hannah Doyle characters in a story about a bomb plot in October 1934.
I served in the U. S. Navy 1969-1973 (naval intelligence), stationed in Turkey for 2 ½ years, an experience that continues to shape me in numbers of ways.
Since retiring from the University at Albany, I have become a Certified Lay Minister in the United Methodist Church, a Certified Spiritual Director, and a volunteer chaplain at Albany Medical Center.
Memberships: The Authors Guild, the Spiritual Writers Network, Spiritual Directors International.
Web 2.0: www.williamrainbolt.com, Facebook, Twitter @BillRainbolt, LinkedIn.