Wendell Affield

Biography

It’s one thing to write a book; it’s another to live it. Wendell Affield never knew who his father was. His childhood was punctuated by a volatile mother and stepfather. At sixteen he left home, rode the rails out west, and lived in hobo camps. At seventeen he enlisted in the navy. At twenty, he was wounded in an ambush while driving a river patrol boat in Vietnam and medevac'd home. He spent thirty years working in the food industry.
Affield retired in 2001 and knew he had stories to tell. He spent several years attending Bemidji State University (BSU), learning how to tell a story. His Vietnam “memory stories” evolved into a memoir, "Muddy Jungle Rivers." The memoir has opened surprising new paths. Today he speaks to groups about PTSD. Autumn 2016 he taught a writing workshop to veterans. Spring 2017 he’ll speak to students who are using his memoir in a history class, at Indiana University, South Bend.
Affield’s mother, Barbara, lived an unusual life. He began a series of interviews with her, hoping to tell her story, never suspecting that the key to it lay decomposing in an old building seventy feet from where they sat visiting in the old farmhouse. After she died in 2010, Affield and his sister discovered and salvaged their family history, dating back to 1822. Over the past six years, he has spent countless hours studying, scanning, and transcribing the documents he discovered locked in the Chickenhouse on his childhood homestead.
Affield lives with his wife, Patti, in a log cabin overlooking a small lake in northern Minnesota, where they enjoy feeding birds. They have three children and several grandchildren. Sadly, their son, Jeff, died in 2015. Affield continues to write, study writing, and psychology. His greatest fear: that he dies before all the stories are told.

Smashwords Interview

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in New York City. In 1949 my mother met my stepfather through a mail order bride newspaper and we moved to a farm in northern Minnesota. I was two years old. How did this influence my writing? There's an old adage, "write what you know." The first book I wrote, "Muddy Jungle Rivers," explores my 1968 tour of duty on a river boat during the Vietnam War.
In 2010, after my mother died, I discovered 200 years of our family history locked in the Chickenhouse on our old farm homestead. This second book is the first in a series, "Chickenhouse Chronicles," as I explore my past and how multi-generational mental disease has impacted our family. Follow along with "Herman, 1940s Lonely Hearts Search," as he hunts for a wife.
When did you first start writing?
I remember the autumn of 1964--I was sixteen, had left the farm, and rode the rails. I spent the summer in the Northwest, hobo camps, and working for farmers. I came home that fall for school and discovered that "Readers Digest" was open for submissions. I wrote about my summer adventures--cursive, on lined yellow paper--and sent it in. That was my first rejection.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Wendell Affield online


Where to buy in print


Books

Herman: 1940s Lonely Hearts Search Chickenhouse Chronicles, Book I
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 15,710. Language: English. Published: January 31, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Historical biography, Nonfiction » Psychology » Mental illness
Affield reconstructs his stepfather’s early life, war experience, and Herman’s four year search for a wife, culminating in the tragic discovery of the author’s mother. After WWII Herman returned to his farm with a dream and PTSD. December 1945 he received The Exchange, a mail-order bride catalogue. In 1949 he discovered Barbara in Cupid’s Columns.
Muddy Jungle Rivers
Price: $9.95 USD. Words: 92,680. Language: English. Published: March 8, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Military biography
Muddy Jungle Rivers is a close-up look at life on a gunboat during 1968, the bloodiest year of the Vietnam War. It's the story of a seven-man crew captained by a volatile pro-war enlisted man. Like Philip Caputo's "A Rumor Of War," this narrative takes the reader into frustration, rage, terror, death, betrayal, and the search for redemption. Muddy Jungle Rivers has 29 chapters, maps,and photos.

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