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Volume 26, Number 7 — July 2019

Joe Tennis is 'Compelled to Write ...

Joe Tennis is a feature writer for the <em>Bristol Herald Courier</em>.
Joe Tennis is a feature writer for the Bristol Herald Courier.
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"... It's Just a World I Can Climb Into"

By Leslie Grace / A! Magazine for the Arts | June 26, 2012

Joe Tennis also earns his living in journalism as a feature writer for the Bristol Herald Courier. He says, "I either write, or I talk. It's impossible to shut me up, either way. I have always found that I enjoy visiting with folks, which is why I like being a newspaper reporter and writer. I have done that for more than half my life and have little, if any, interest in being an editor. I like to be in the field, researching or talking to people and getting to another story. I am compelled to write because it's just a world I can climb into and release thoughts. Usually, after doing that, I feel either satisfied or relieved or both."

Tennis sees his books as puzzles. "Each one is a challenge and becomes more of a challenge once I can see the entire book in my head. Then it's a matter of getting it on the page. This has happened a couple of times with books, as I formulate the journey that each is going to take. All my books are a journey."

His books have led him throughout Southwest Virginia and along Route 58 from the beach to the mountains. Along his journey, he wanted to try something different and created the characters for Finding Franklin. His trek into the lost State of Franklin took him and his characters, Zakk and Thomas, on a quest to find a missing fortune. As in all his books, history plays an important role. The story, set during a time in local history when Tennessee was part of a state called Franklin, is based on a mystery involving a missing cabin.

"That book has been a blessing, because I believe it shows a different side of me," he says. "It captures this overgrown kid who's inside me. Some part of me is either Zakk or Thomas, and I'm with them as they explore three states looking for clues to what they think is a mystery. The book is fun and funny, but there is a lot of history along the way. I could not have just written an empty story. I had to have all that history with it. So it actually fits into everything I have done with books. But Franklin is different, and I think that's great. I like having a book of fiction."

Craig McDonald

Topics: Literature