This is a collection of some of my favorite stories.
“Paradise Lost” (originally published by Lapham’s Quarterly)
Aaron Burr spoke of far-flung fortune, and then the Blennerhassetts’ West Virginia Eden went up in flames.
“How Gillian Welch Created an Americana Touchstone in ‘Revival'” (originally published by Rolling Stone Country)
This is a longform story about the creation of Gillian Welch’s album, Revival, featuring interviews with Welch, her partner David Rawlings, producer T Bone Burnett, and other people instrumental in launching this landmark debut.
“Live from Oak Hill” (originally published in the spring 2017 issue of WV Living)
A brief history of professional wrestling on WOAY-TV.
“In Search of the Stone Man” (originally published in the Fall 2016 issue of WV Living)
Russ Jones, West Virginia’s leading Bigfoot researcher, is a passionate man. And it doesn’t take long for that passion to rub off.
“A Job You Wear” (originally published in the Spring 2016 issue of WV Living)
Danny Jones has worked as a bartender, bouncer, cook, waiter, gravedigger, bottled water salesman, restaurant owner, public relations man, county sheriff, state delegate, radio talk show host, and, most importantly, Charleston, West Virginia’s longest-serving mayor.
“Dogs by Design” (originally published in the February 2017 issue of Wonderful West Virginia)
“Evans was a designer, by trade and by nature. When he decided to be a magazine illustrator, he spent years crafting a portfolio that would appeal to Cosmopolitan magazine and landed a job the day he dropped it off.
When he saw magazines transitioning from illustrations to photography, he designed a life for himself and Kay at Old Hemlock, where he drew on a lifetime of hunting experience and fashioned a new career as an outdoors writer.
When he couldn’t find a bird dog that suited his tastes, he decided to design one of those, too.”
“High Hopes for a New Cash Crop” (originally published in August/September ’16 issue of Morgantown Magazine)
Could the humble hemp plant—banned by the federal government and given a bad rap because of its psychedelic cousin—become the next big thing for West Virginia’s agriculture industry?
“Casts of Character” (originally published in the Summer 2016 issue of WV Living)
“The Native American hunter, all bulging muscle and sinew, lies close to his horse’s neck as the beast reaches full gallop. He clutches a flint-tipped spear in his right hand. With his left he holds a buffalo hide, draping the skin over himself and his pony.”
“Blackout: Scenes from a Coal Dependent Economy” (originally published in the January/February 2016 issue of West Virginia Focus)
Boone County is the home of West Virginia’s coal industry and was long the state’s leading coal producer. But when the industry suffers, so do the people of Boone County.
“The Polecat Rampage” (originally published in the fall 2015 issue of WV Living)
Each spring, a diverse fraternity gathers in the West Virginia woods to eat ramps, drink, and tell stories.
“Late Edition” (originally published in the September/October 2015 issue of West Virginia Focus)
“When everyone was assembled, recently named Gazette publisher Susan Chilton Shumate spoke up with an announcement: Effective immediately, everyone worked for the same publication, the Charleston Gazette-Mail. The brand-new publication would go to press in just a few hours. After more than 100 years as fierce competitors, the Gazette and Daily Mail were no more.”
“Shot at a Second Chance” (originally published in the March/April 2015 issue of West Virginia Focus)
“In late October 2011, storm winds brought down trees all around James Ball’s home near Danville, making the road to his home impassable. It was a terrible time to have a drug overdose.”
“The Flip” (originally published in the March/April 2015 issue of West Virginia Focus)
My first cover feature as managing editor of West Virginia Focus, the flip details how Republicans took over the West Virginia Legislature for the first time in more than 80 years.
“Logan County bat maker is fueled by his love of the game” (originally published October 22, 2014)
Mike Crosby didn’t achieve his goal of becoming a big-time professional baseball player. But he’s found a way to stay in the game he loves, making professional quality custom bats in a shed beside his Man, W.Va. home.
“Zac Jones to fight in Rough ‘n’ Rowdy Brawl” (originally published Jan. 9, 2014)
When I found out Zac Jones, son of Charleston mayor Danny Jones, was fighting in an amateur boxing contest, I immediately called him up. I never expected to get the interview. He’d had his share of trouble with the law, as well as the media. But as you can see in the story, I got far more than I expected.
“State of Confusion” (originally published June 20, 2013)
This is a story about how West Virginia very nearly became “Vandalia.”
“The curious case of Sherlock Holmes and the Norwood Building Inspectors” (originally published Jan. 3, 2013)
This story explores the history of literature’s greatest detective through our local Sherlock Holmes society.
“Miseries now preoccupy city protesters” (originally published Nov. 29, 2011)
It was still summer when Occupy Charleston, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, set up camp in a Charleston city park. But once the weather turned cold, the group’s Twitter account began sending out distress signals.