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I was asked why I'm a writer and responded with the following. I didn't choose writing, it chose me. I've spent the better part of my life (and I'm 60 years old) writing, but I still hesitate to call myself an Author. I've written and published seven books, six are fiction, and still I don't feel like a writer because I don't fit my mental image of one. I don't feel compelled to be the next Mark Twain or Tom Clancy. I don't want to get filthy rich from my writing and I don't care for the glory of being recognized while walking down the street. All I want to do is entertain people and hold that wisp of power and control knowing I can make you laugh, or make you cry. I can take you to heaven or send you straight to hell, all with a few words placed appropriately. I can do in one paragraph what God needs seven days to accomplish. Best of all, I can make you think great thoughts or I can help you dream in a reality that I create. A reality you can enjoin or not with the flip of a book cover or press of a digital reader button. All of this isn't writing, it's insanity and escape for the sake of entertainment.
Before turning to fiction writing, Wells spent most of his career as a newspaper reporter and journalist in middle Georgia. He covered everything from high school sports to front page news stories. During the last fourteen years of his career he worked as Managing Editor for “The Robins Review” a military town’s 25,000 weekly edition publication. The city’s mixed population of civilian and military called for a unique brand of writing skills that Wells found comfortable supplying. The highlight of his career was in 1988 when a sharply written article was picked up by the national wire services and republished around the world. The topic was the advance of technology in the Air Force’s electronic warfare division and aptly titled “Stone Age to Star Wars.” Copies of the article made it to the desk of then President Ronald Regan who had initially emblazoned the term into the minds of the world.
The article also caught the attention of an NBC News Producer as well as ABC’s nightline’s Associate Producer, Terry Irving. The sad news through it all was that just as Wells’ writing career was taking off, his personal world was “going south and silent.” Plagued since childhood by an ongoing progressive hearing loss, Charles Wells lost all usable hearing and went completely deaf. When the handicap peaked, Wells found it impossible to function for the newspaper any longer and resigned at age 38. He fell back on his original “day job” returning to work as an electronics technician at the same military base where he once “entertained the troops.” When his hearing problems also unraveled his efforts there, he threw in the towel, took a disability from service and dropped out of sight for three long years.
During that time he switched his writing presentations from the “pomp and ceremony” of print to the more open and space filling approach of the www. The writing needs of that medium grew to an insatiable level as more and more quality articles and information was needed to fill the millions of web pages springing up online. Best of all, those markets offered Wells a “deaf friendly” environment in which to work. He began his new career using old skills after refocusing his talents and adjusting them to the new technology and class of readers it presented. By swapping pen and paper for a keyboard and mouse, he positioned himself on the cusped of the informational highway. Still, he needed to crack the shell and get inside the medium which meant calling on his reputation as an old print writer and trying to capture the younger audiences of the internet.
Normally bashful about self promotion, Wells shamelessly flaunted his accomplishments from the newspapers and soon gained the attention of higher ups in the news organizations that were testing the waters to see if there really was an audience online. All those “loud noises” made during his print career opened the doors for Wells and landed him a “digital online” job with CNN News of Atlanta. His “computer based” job description became one of the first “telecommuter” jobs in the world and for the next year he worked from home full time.
CNN’s bold move to the internet was followed by a joint venture between computer software giant Microsoft and television’s NBC network. The two companies formed what is today MSNBC and then took CNN’s internet/TV interactive format and ran it deeper into the digital realms of society. Both networks quickly discovered the power behind having instant viewer response taken from “online news chat rooms.” MSNBC realized it faster and quickly moved the concept deeper passing CNN’s online presence during the second year of operations. After that, MSNBC became the envy of every news operation on earth especially to those wanting to work for them on the computer. Wells, still with CNN when MSNBC went flying past, watched and waited, trying to gauge the right moment to attempt a jump over to MSNBC. That moment came when MSNBC hired ABC’s Terry Irving and put him in charge of the “Don Imus in the Morning” simulcast show on the network. Irving’s first order of the day was to start an online interactive chat room and the man he wanted to operate it was Charles Wells. He had quietly spent a lot of time online in the CNN chats and had watched how well Charles had interacted and inspired comments from the users, comments that quite often made it to the bottom of any given news show’s TV’s screen as well.
Wells enjoyed the interactivity and fun dealing with regular people online and relaying their questions and responses over to the on air television people. Best of all, his handicap wasn’t an issue or a problem. It never interfered with his work because one didn’t need to hear the words spoken. His computer scrolled them across his screen flawlessly. Still, Wells was a writer at heart and the tug to write fiction adventure stories was still strong but dormant.
During the year he stayed at CNN he was constantly asking for web space in which he could write short journalistic features, a concept that today is referred to as “Blogging.” Wells idea was simply too far ahead of the times and his idea fell on deaf yet hearing ears at CNN. When he persisted and then demanded the space, his manager made it clear that CNN was not interested and to not mention it again. They felt that online readers would never sit still long enough to read a thousand words of personal opinions and commentary.
Frustrated at the lack of insight shown by his employer, Wells resigned and almost gave up entirely on his attempt to join the web. He was on the verge of unplugging the computer when Terry Irving heard about his departure from CNN and dropped him an email asking if he was interested in opening a new chat room for radio personality Don Imus. Wells agreed to do so on the condition that he would get a small spot on the MSNBC website to write his daily commentary feature. Irving loved the idea and six weeks later, Imus in The Morning on MSNBC took to the air on the same day that “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” by Charles Wells hit the MSNBC web pages. It lasted over eight years and Wells never missed a deadline.
The highlight, if one cares to look at it that way, of his career at MSNBC happened on that fateful morning of September 11, 2001. Wells was in charge of the morning Imus chat and assisting another host working in the news room chats. Between the two, there were over 150 visitors in the two chat rooms when the first aircraft hit the World Trade Center. His steady and cool handling of site visitors as they flooded in for the latest information, established his reputation as being one of the internet’s top hosts controllers after he juggled a staggering 2400 chatters solo for almost an hour until help could arrive. He then stayed on duty for a solid twelve hours straight.
Even with such public exposure under his belt, Wells did not feel quite ready for prime book publishing especially since he was switching from factual reporting to fiction mystery as his genre of choice. After MSNBC ended the chat room days and let Wells and a dozen others go, he stayed below the radar for several years until 2009 when his first fiction novel hit the markets under the name “Sand Hill Estates the Murders.” That book, one of the first classes of digital only books offered online, trudged along quietly with modest sales but drew few raves or reviews outside the mystery community. In 2010 he took the characters and plots and reworked them, then expanded into today’s “Whispering Pines.” From one book grew a six and counting series of fast paced suspense thrillers geared for all age groups. Book seven has a tentative release date of January 2012.
On several occasions during interviews, Wells was asked if he had plans yet to eventually wrap and end the series. “I haven’t told all the stories yet so no. At this time I’ve still got one story in progress and two more in mind waiting.”