Blog Tour: Then Like the Blind Man: Orbie’s Story by Freddie Owens (spotlight, guest post)

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Then Like the Blind Man 7Then Like the Blind Man: Orbie’s Story
written by Freddie Owens
published by Blind Sight Publications

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book: A storm is brewing in the all-but-forgotten backcountry of Kentucky. And, for young Orbie Ray, the swirling heavens may just have the power to tear open his family’s darkest secrets. Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie’s Story is the enthralling debut novel by Freddie Owens, which tells the story of a spirited wunderkind in the segregated South of the 1950s and the forces he must overcome to restore order in his world. Rich in authentic vernacular and evocative of a time and place long past, this absorbing work of magical realism offered up with a Southern twist will engage readers who relish the Southern literary canon, or any tale well told.

Nine-year-old Orbie already has his cross to bear. After the sudden death of his father, his mother Ruby has off and married his father’s coworker and friend Victor, a slick-talking man with a snake tattoo. Since the marriage, Orbie, his sister Missy, and his mother haven’t had a peaceful moment with the heavy-drinking, fitful new man of the house. Orbie hates his stepfather more than he can stand; this fact lands him at his grandparents’ place in Harlan’s Crossroads, Kentucky, when Victor decides to move the family to Florida without including him. In his new surroundings, Orbie finds little to distract him from Granpaw’s ornery ways and constant teasing jokes about snakes.

As Orbie grudgingly adjusts to life with his doting Granny and carping Granpaw, who are a bit too keen on their black neighbors for Orbie’s taste, not to mention their Pentecostal congregation of snake handlers, he finds his world views changing, particularly when it comes to matters of race, religion, and the true cause of his father’s death. He befriends a boy named Willis, who shares his love of art, but not his skin color. And, when Orbie crosses paths with the black Choctaw preacher, Moses Mashbone, he learns of a power that could expose and defeat his enemies, but can’t be used for revenge. When a storm of unusual magnitude descends, he happens upon the solution to a paradox that is both magical and ordinary. The question is, will it be enough?

Equal parts Hamlet and Huckleberry Finn, it’s a tale that’s both rich in meaning, timely in its social relevance, and rollicking with boyhood adventure. The novel mines crucial contemporary issues, as well as the universality of the human experience while also casting a beguiling light on boyhood dreams and fears. It’s a well-spun, nuanced work of fiction that is certain to resonate with lovers of literary fiction, particularly in the grand Southern tradition of storytelling.


A Less Than Easy Experience With Author Freddie Owens

Orbie Ray Tells All…

Then Like The Blind Man is a book about me – Orbie Ray – when I was nine and didn’t have nobody to play with; when I put dents in Granpaw’s hubcaps with a ball peen hammer and killed a bunch of flies on Granny Wood’s back porch. It’s about when Daddy got killed at Fords and Momma had off and married his boss, a slick talking man with a snake tattoo; it’s about all the god awful sum bitchin things that followed – like the insides of a Frankenstein storm, geechy witch doctor rain, Elvis and Johnny and nig.., I mean, colored boys galore! It’s a goddamn good story, Blind Man is, but I been told not to cuss about it. I try not to, at least not in front of Momma, but sometimes I cain’t keep from it ’cause of how Freddie Owens made me. Freddie Owens lives above the keyboard there. He’s the one sent down the words what turned into things – like lightning and bad breath; like a sand papery beard on smooth skin.

At first I didn’t know how it would turn out. I mean I was real worried at first ’cause Freddie killed off Daddy and had Momma marry that man and dumped me off on a dirt farm in Kentucky with all those hillbillies gawking about – colored people too, at church, crying and jumping together like something electrocuted and handing out snakes – and me just a city boy from Detroit, about to pee in my pants watching it all. He put me in a bunch of bad places, Freddie did, but I showed him; I had to, to make the story come true. And it did, I figured it out; it wasn’t Freddie at all; and don’t let him tell you it was either. It was just me, and me alone; fact was, I had to whisper it in Freddie’s ear; I had to let him in on the secret, that there was something special here, something nobody had tried, something I had to find out about myself first – in all the mess Freddie had made.

I probably knowed Freddie better than Freddie knowed Freddie. I mean I was the one got him to keep writing even when he was – after so many years – about to give up on the thing. I think it was ’cause of what a weird kid I was turning out to be, looking at things in ways what made them walk off the page – like if you was to watch a picture show or something and the people on the screen all of a sudden started going every which way, coming out in the audience, touching your face and smelling like body odor.

I kept telling Freddie not to give up on me; I kept telling him I had a bunch of things to tell about and I could do it real good cause I could see and feel things like nobody else could see and feel things and it’d be so good and people would love it and him too for writing it all down. And I told him he had to keep on even after he was done with writing the thing, even after nobody wanted to make it into a book you could buy at a for real store. I kept saying to him, Look Freddie, people will love me, you’ll see, you got to keep trying and he went on and did what I told him; put it all down in this book he made all by his lonesome and then them people who read things for a living, they came and said it was just a goddamn good book – and there I go cussing again – and anyway other people came too, what bought the book and liked it and wrote about it on Amazon – what made Freddie and me go Hot Damn!   You should read it, it’s good.


Freddie Owens 7About the author: A poet and fiction writer, my work has been published in Poet Lore, Crystal Clear and Cloudy, and Flying Colors Anthology. I am a past attendee of Pikes Peak Writer’s Conferences and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and a member of Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop in Denver, Colorado. In addition, I am/was a licensed professional counselor and psychotherapist, who for many years counseled perpetrators of domestic violence and sex offenders, and provided psychotherapy for individuals, groups and families. I hold a master’s degree in contemplative psychotherapy from NaropaUniversity in Boulder, Colorado.

I was born in Kentucky but soon after my parents moved to Detroit. Detroit was where I grew up. As a kid I visited relatives in Kentucky, once for a six-week period, which included a stay with my grandparents. In the novel’s acknowledgements I did assert the usual disclaimers having to do with the fact that Then Like The Blind Man was and is a work of fiction, i.e., a made up story whose characters and situations are fictional in nature (and used fictionally) no matter how reminiscent of characters and situations in real life. That’s a matter for legal departments, however, and has little to do with subterranean processes giving kaleidoscopic-like rise to hints and semblances from memory’s storehouse, some of which I selected and disguised for fiction. That is to say, yes, certain aspects of my history did manifest knowingly at times, at times spontaneously and distantly, as ghostly north-south structures, as composite personae, as moles and stains and tears and glistening rain and dark bottles of beer, rooms of cigarette smoke, hay lofts and pigs. Here’s a quote from the acknowledgements that may serve to illustrate this point.

“Two memories served as starting points for a short story I wrote that eventually became this novel. One was of my Kentucky grandmother as she emerged from a shed with a white chicken held upside down in one of her strong bony hands. I, a boy of nine and a “city slicker” from Detroit, looked on in wonderment and horror as she summarily wrung the poor creature’s neck. It ran about the yard frantically, yes incredibly, as if trying to locate something it had misplaced as if the known world could be set right again, recreated, if only that one thing was found. And then of course it died. The second memory was of lantern light reflected off stones that lay on either side of a path to a storm cellar me and my grandparents were headed for one stormy night beneath a tornado’s approaching din. There was wonderment there too, along with a vast and looming sense of impending doom.”

I read the usual assigned stuff growing up, short stories by Poe, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Scarlet Letter, The Cherry Orchard, Hedda Gabler, a little of Hemingway, etc. I also read a lot of Super Hero comic books (also Archie and Dennis the Menace) and Mad Magazine was a favorite too. I was also in love with my beautiful third grade teacher and to impress her pretended to read Gulliver’s Travels for which I received many delicious hugs.

It wasn’t until much later that I read Huckleberry Finn. I did read To Kill A Mockingbird too. I read Bastard Out of Carolina and The Secret Life of Bees. I saw the stage play of Hamlet and read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle too. However, thematic similarities to these works occurred to me only after I was already well into the writing of Then Like The Blind Man. Cormac McCarthy, Pete Dexter, Carson McCullers, Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Conner and Joyce Carol Oates, to name but a few, are among my literary heroes and heroines. Tone and style of these writers have influenced me in ways I’d be hard pressed to name, though I think the discerning reader might feel such influences as I make one word follow another and attempt to “stab the heart with…force” (a la Isaac Babel) by placing my periods (hopefully, sometimes desperately) ‘… just at the right place’.

Find Mr. Owens here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads





  1. Just from the name I would have guessed it was a Roy Orbison biography! This sounds much better, haha.

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