- Gulfport Blues (2001)
by Lindsay Hanson (SHS) 2002
William Owen was born in Gulfport, Mississippi, on October 17, 1942 (Owen). He is the son of Edwin Charles Owen and Alice Ruttledge from Lamar County in Mississippi. According to Owen, his father comes from a long line of Welsh rogue singers, criminals, and soldiers. His mother is descended from a signer of The Declaration of Independence and an ancestor on the Mayflower (Owen). As a native of Gulfport, Owen has written six novels (Owen, blurb). He has one novel published called Gulfport Blues. Owen has been reading ever since he was three years of age. To this day he still reads two to three books a week. Owen has one son who is chief engineer for Fox Sports in LA (Owen).
In addition to being an author, Owen has had many jobs. He has been a General Practitioner, a merchant seaman, and a rodeo bull rider. He is currently a dermatologist. Owen served in the U.S. Army twice, once as an Intelligence officer in Viet Nam and once as a doctor in Korea at the only MASH hospital in the Army. He studied dermatology and received his diploma at the University of Wales. He also studied the Inca ruins and collected butterflies when he lived for a short time in Peru (Owen, Blurb). As a hobby Owen also writes songs. He has written about thirty songs. William Owen not only writes novels and songs, he also writes poetry. Owen was on television in April 2001 on WLBT in Jackson with Bert Case about the book Gulfport Blues.
A Review of Gulfport Blues 2002
by Lindsay Hanson (SHS)
If you would like to have a good laugh, you should read Gulfport Blues by William Owen. The setting is the Mississippi Gulf Coast during the 1970’s (post Vietnam era). This book is a humorous story about a doctor named Rory Ripple, who is an ex-Army Intelligence Officer in Vietnam and now a psychiatrist in Gulfport, Mississippi. He becomes involved in solving a drug-related crime just by taking on a patient who worries over his next door neighbor’s unusual behavior.
Psychiatrist Ripple enlists the aid of Sarge, his Vietnam friend, Ma Palmer, his secretary’s mother and Mrs. Palmer in his solving of the crime. This book is a funny whodunit. Throughout his workday, Ripple has patients of all varieties. He is asked to dinner by one of his patients, Gaston Bourgeois, to observe his crazy neighbors’ behavior. While at this dinner, Dr. Ripple sees again his First Sergeant in Vietnam, Willie Ray Gates, who is now going by a different name, “P’tat Jean.” I will stop right here because I do not want to spoil the surprise.
Rory Ripple and “P’tat Jean” have a plan to get what they want. This book is a good pick if you like a comical mystery. The suspense is a thriller because there is a bad guy in the book, but it is hard to figure out who it is. There are numerous hints throughout the book, however, which lead up to the ending of the story to reveal who the bad guy is. The author keeps you interested throughout the novel. A word of caution, this novel does use some profane words. I would recommend this book for any adults but not for younger students.
by Lindsay Hanson (SHS) 2002
Is Gulfport Blues an autobiography?
“No, it’s not an autobiography, but most writers draw from their own experiences, either first hand, or second hand. For example, “Robinson Crusoe” was written by Daniel Defoe from a story told to him by a sailor who had experienced something very like it. After the book made some money, the sailor sued. He lost.”
How many books have you written so far?
“I have written six. You know what they say, someone who has six novels lying around may well be an undiscovered genius. Someone who has seven is probably and idiot. So I quit writing at six until I got one published. I’ll wait and see what this one does before attempting to publish the others or writing again.”
How long did it take you to write Gulfport Blues?
“Hard question. I wrote the first draft in a bout five weeks. There were several drafts after that, including a draft in the third person. My longest novel, Public Work took a year. It’s eight hundred pages long. I can’t even get anyone to read it. I have two more novels about Rory Ripple, Dog Days and Rough Diamonds, each took me about three months.”
What is your favorite book that you have written?
“Public Work, by far. Truly a good piece of writing, though no one will ever read it.”
Who is your favorite author/authors?
“I have several; Graham Greene would be my favorite. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlins, Harper Lee, Evelyn Waugh are up there. My favorite novels are The Comedians by Graham Greene and Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner.”
What author do you think has influenced you the most?
“Marjorie Kinnan Rawlins.”
What got you interested in writing?
“I started reading when I was three and for all my life have read two or three novels a week, even now.One leads to the other.”
What were your grades in school like?
“Indifferent. C’s mostly, but then I already knew what they were trying to teach me. It surprised everyone at my high school when I became a National Merit Finalist.”
Do you have any advice for future writers?
“Write a lot and learn to accept rejection. Many are called, but few are chosen. Write for yourself, because you like it.”
Do you have any advice for students today?
“Read a lot. It is sad how little kids know, how little they have read.”
How have your experiences in Mississippi influenced your writing?
“I have lived all over the world but I always come back to Mississippi. I have a love/hate relationship with it.”
Are you currently working on a new book?
“No. I have Dog Days, Rough Diamonds, and Public Work already lying around. If any interest is shown, I’ll do a little revising and publish them. If that happens I’ll start writing again. I have a thousand books in my head.”
- If you would like to learn more about William Owen’s home town, visit this website.
- Amazon sells the book.
- Owen, William. Gulfport Blues, Jacket Blurb. Jackson, MS: Town Square Books, Inc. 2001.
- Owen, William. “Re: MS Writers Project” E-mail to Lindsay Hanson.23 March 2002.
- Owen, William. America Online Instant Messenger with Lindsay Hanson. 10 April 2002.