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"Hamlet’s experience simply could not have happened to a plumber."—George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw had no idea what we plumbers go through. Moral dilemmas? Existential crises? I’ve had ’em. And a client murdered, too.
I self-published my first two novels, then got “discovered” by the big publishers for a run of a couple decades. Now I’m back to self-publishing including podcasts, audiobooks, e-books.
I’m the co-founder and host of a monthly “Lit Night” in our little town of La Honda. It’s an open mic that started in the bar of a restaurant where people would read poetry or tell stories and try to be understood, or at least heard, through the din of people eating and drinking. Now we meet in the abandoned restaurant. We encourage all forms of literature from cowboy poetry to slam, from folk song to children’s stories to Shakespeare. We’ve had readers as young as twelve; we’ve had homeless people.
My bias is inclusive. I support writing that is accessible and immediate. I want to create poetry that makes sense to the roofers and backhoe operators and cement truck drivers I work with. And I don’t underestimate their intelligence. I aim high but not highfalutin.
Same with kids. I’ve had five novels published for children. Again, let’s not underestimate them. I never write down. Children like to read up.
By day, Joe Cottonwood has worked as a carpenter, plumber, and electrician for most of his life. By night, he is the author of nine published novels, two books of poetry, and a memoir. He grew up in Maryland, bonded Appalachian, and now lives in the coastal mountains of California where he built a house and raised a family under (and at mercy of) giant redwood trees.